What can I do when I am overwhelmed?
In February 2023, projects that should have been completed in 2020 were finally over but instead of resulting in a sense of relief, it made me realise how much I had been operating on inertia. Now I am through it all. I did it, but I am exhausted, running on empty and have lost direction. What lies ahead of me?
In 2020, Rosina passed away and in the midst of grief I inherited the studio. While running it and working with Kate certainly has moments of joy, it is something that takes a lot of my time and energy. We went through finding our feet with the studio admin and finances, to living and operating in a pandemic, coming out of the pandemic and working in times of a serious economic crisis. And that is only the studio. I also had to adapt for my job and my external yoga classes.
Since then, I have not been able to think clearly, and my body has been giving me little signals indicating that change is needed. I have not had time to make artwork and this I crave enormously, as much as I miss having a sustained period of time to dedicate to my yoga practice, without having to rush through the door to teach, to attend a meeting or to solve some emergency. Making art requires sustained, single-focused immersion, and depth.
I only know one way of going deeper: slowing down.
By slowing down, things take more time, occupy more space. In this, I am not only able to see things more clearly (constant movement blurs vision) but I also have to make decisions about which of all the myriads of possible things I choose. I think this is an important exercise to do regularly. Am I going in the right direction? Is this the life I want to live?
The end of February found me in Tenerife, at Kia’s retreat in Purple Valley. There, I saw all this: the slower practices, the time to just be, the concentration on one thing, more or less. So I missed finishing and sending the newsletter I had already drafted. And it felt good. Sometimes I take on tasks as if I was on a hamster wheel. Getting off for a month was great. When did I become so predictable? It takes courage to bring projects to an end, as my dear husband writes about.
This is not new. It did not begin in Tenerife. It has been coming and going for the last few years. I get to a point of collapse, I rest for a bit and then carry on. Having this pattern as my future fills me with dread. I don’t mind being tired but I don’t want a life of exhaustion and joylessness.
I am not asking for forgiveness. Someone recently wrote to me: ‘accusation and shame are enemies of well-being’. I have somehow gone into the side of many enemies of well-being and I need to change direction, slowing down in the process to orient myself. On my first summer in the Spanish Mountains with Kia, she told me to modulate my breath in such a way that I am not giving it all out, keeping some pranafor myself. This is what is happening now: I have given too much and nourished too little. For the sake of those I am supporting as much as for mine, I need to take care of my system being well.
I need to see how my energy is in the next coming months, to see how I re-learn to rest and recover more deeply, to work at a slower pace. I might change how I do things, how I write, how I teach, how I practice, how I engage with the world. Because I do want to engage with the world, with all of you.
If you choose to slow down, I hope you find beauty in the things previously unseen.
Kia is coming to Glasgow 14-16 April for ‘The Boundless Wisdom of Heart’, an Ashtanga Yoga, Mysore Style, Meditation, Pranayama & Philosophy programme. I am very much looking forward to this because listening to the wisdom of my heart is exactly what I am longing for. There is still time to join us if you want to book. It will be a phenomenal reset of the mind, body and breath, with the most beautiful teacher I know. Her classes are not only lessons in yoga, but in life too, honouring the true and deeper meaning of the word.
To prepare, I have been listening to Closer Together, her podcast with Yotam Agam. Many resources there have sustained me in these last years: talks, soundscapes for my home practice .. At the moment, S 3: Episode #5, a meditation on saṁkalpa gives me just what I need. There is also a companion talk on saṁkalpa, which is worth listening to, as it enhances the meditation. Kia writes:
Saṁkalpa is a very particular word in the Sanskrit language. The most common, but somewhat simplified English translation is “An Intention Formed by the Heart“. But the power of Saṁkalpa is really embedded into the very sound of the word itself. So its potency is directly reliant on our capacity to listen deeply. Kia relates to Saṁkalpa not so much as an intention but as an Inner Resonance that we listen for and reflect upon.
It is in quietude that we can move closer to our hearts so that we can hear the resonance arising from within: Saṁkalpa the very depth of our being coming into manifestation.
Saṁkalpa is not superimposing anything onto, or giving meaning to, what we do, but listening to what is already there, to what was always there but perhaps we lost touch with. Only slowing down, we can get to this deeper listening.
I have found that wisdom is often a whisper …
My Yoga Moves Glasgow classes run at the Arlington Baths from 18 April:
Yoga (Mysore) | LIVE |
Tuesdays, 07.15 – 09.00
Thursdays, 07.15 – 09.00
Pranayama on 25 April, 30 May, 27 June
All classes are open for booking here.
Royal Conservatoire of Scotland take place during term time.
For staff: Wednesdays 1-2pm. Contact HR for details.
For students: Fridays 1-2pm. Get in touch with Meg Baker at RCS Sports for details or check out the RCS Sport instagram feed.