How Full is Your Wagon?

Empty it for a Good Night's Sleep.

Empty it for a Good Night’s Sleep.

A client mentioned how she woke at 2am and proceeded to take stock of all the details of the previous day, saying it helped her to make sure she took care of everything properly. I remembered the all-too familiar winding of the mind at all hours of the night.

I used to dread night-waking to pee because if I actually had to get up my mind would take over and all sorts of crap would start to flow during my time in the loo, none of which belonged there. A bit crude but accurate.

Mental diarrhea would take over my good night’s sleep and make it difficult to get back to dreamland. It’s easy to second-guess yourself in the quiet, dark hours of night.

It feels like years since my mind has kept me awake taking inventory of my day. No one particular thing eased me into dreamtime. Yoga, meditation, and practices like the one I share here, all played a part.

As my client talked about her busy mind, I shared how I used to drag my workouts or, more recently, my writing, through my day. I’d plan the session and show up for the workout or the writing but then rush off to pick up kids for lunch and continue to process my session in my head, not particularly present with the kids, lunch, or myself.

Maybe I should have done more reps. I don’t think my cardio was long enough. I could have pushed more weight. What if the flashback is better in the first chapter? I could have done a better job of describing that scene.

On and on I dragged these sessions through my day, revisiting what I’d already done.

As we talked about the behaviour pattern familiar to many female clients, friends, and myself, I saw in my mind a woman pulling a red wagon. She started with it empty and she looked fresh. Then as she went about her day she piled each activity into her wagon. The cargo grew and she tired under the weight she hauled along.

By bedtime the wagon overflowed. Her mind used nighttime to empty the wagon so she could fill it again the next day.

What helped me to stop dragging writing through my day was to take a conscious moment to consider myself complete with what I had just done. I sat down to write, I was present while I wrote, and I finished it for the day. I even had a ritual- symbolic of my completion with the task at hand- I wiped my hands like a Vegas blackjack dealer leaving the table.

Another technique I learned in yoga and use regularly is saying the word swaha to signify the end of one chant before moving onto the next. I have recited swaha - a sanskrit word used in this case to mean so be it - in my day when a particularly stubborn activity or thought hangs on. Firmly stating it aloud signals I am done with the task or thought. Occasionally I need to yell it repeatedly, drawing the belly and breath into it, to get my mind to let go.

What if we had a conscious completion to each part of our day, a personal acknowledgement that we did our best and that task is complete, at least for now? A conscious pause before moving onto the next item on our daily agenda. Mini-savasanas between practices.

I see the woman and her little red wagon. She places an item in her wagon and walks with it. When she gets to her next item she removes the first from her wagon, gives it a good once over and accepts it as complete. It is what it is for now. She sets it down and takes a deep cleansing breath. She places the next item in her wagon and carries on with it, removing it prior to her next stop.

She deals with one item at a time: meditation, breakfast, shopping, work, lunch, exercise, interviews, coffee, dinner, argument with partner or kids…that can tend to cause a mess in the wagon that may require more considerate clean up.

What unique way can you symbolize your completeness with each activity in your day?  A jig? A whoohoo! A pat on the back or hug? A deep breath and a moment of stillness? An affirmation or perhaps a round of self-applause? Maybe a big ol’ swaha!

Take a moment at the end of each day, maybe on your mat in yoga, on the floor in meditation, a walk in nature, at the table with a doodle pad, or in the tub with your favourite aromatherapy or salts. Check your wagon for any leftover cargo. Anything hanging on? If it’s not empty, take a moment to remove any items before slipping between the sheets.

Doodle your doubts, warrior I your worries, om your overactive mind…just for today you are complete. Just for today you let everything go. You’ll address tomorrow when it emerges and you’ll be restored and renewed from a good night’s sleep because you saved dreamtime for dreaming.

 

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