I always wondered what I would do with my time if I wasn’t required to be somewhere or do something specific. I would do these exercises years ago where I would pretend I was free of all obligation. I could choose whatever I wanted with my day. It was really hard at first. I was trained to completely escape or “veg” out on my days off.
The days that I worked, I would reluctantly get ready and go work, come home and rest. I incorporated gym time and cooking and errands into my days, but that was it. It was all scheduled, all required.
Eventually something started shifting. I would wake up feeling free, like I was choosing my day. I wasn’t a robot going about my tasks. A new idea was arising, c-h-o-i-c-e. I was choosing my activities instead of feeling the obligation of them. Such a subtle but powerful change in perspective. It made me feel more empowered.
In the past, it seemed as though if nothing was required of me, I would be in bed all day long, every day. I thought I would waste away into nothingness without structure. I realized that was an old way of thinking. The depressed mind. Dissociated, escaping. But that wasn’t me anymore, and I had to update my fears to fit where I was now.
When I let go of obligation, I didn’t turn into a sloth (no offense to sloths). I became more self-disciplined. Self-driven. I started to get to know who I really was and what I was like, without external context.
I wanted to feel my own rhythm. Did I like to wake up early or stay up late? What was my work style? Do I like one long break, or lots of little ones? I never got the chance to understand how I was most effective and what it was like to move through my day with inspiration rather than fear or duty.
When I was young, I was forced to do everything . I wasn’t allowed to have a choice or an opinion. Most of what I came to know as “me” or “my preference” was a rebellious/opposing response to what I had been forced to do.
So who the heck was I? Without fear of authority or resentful rebellion- what was Heba like?
I started to flow with my own rhythm, after I had disentangled it from shame. It felt so wrong to move with my natural impulses. Like someone, somewhere was yelling at me. It took practice. It took being so nice to myself through the process.
My way of doing things was nothing like what I had been made to do when I was young. And it wasn’t like the stubborn, opposing Heba either.
It takes so much to honor your own flow, but it’s worth it. If ever you want to be free of the machine, you have to understand who you are.
What do you look like without the system imposed upon you?
I thought about how this time in my life is what I wanted all along. A container, a bubble, where nothing is required of me. The machine has slowed, and stopped in some areas. I had nothing but myself and time. I knew I had to take advantage of it. I had to discover who I was beneath my masks. This wasn’t a time for fear or panic. It was a time of letting go. A time of s-u-s-p-e-n-s-i-o-n. A time like this would not come again.
Here is what I naturally felt inspired to do during this period (so far):
-Developing my business from the inside out. Making sure my intentions are clear and steady and that I have put to bed any fears or doubts.
-Dancing. I’ve not only been practicing my belly dance “moves”, but an overall attitude. Feeling the energy flow through my body and outward as I am dancing.
-Painting. I picked up my watercolors and have been painting regularly.
-Exercising. I’ve been running and weight training (improvised weights), as well as calisthenics.
-I love being outside! I spend every moment outside that I can. I love walking for hours (far away from people) and spending time in our yard.
-Writing. Besides this blog, I’ve been journaling and writing poetry and prose.
-Playing music. I’ve been practicing my djembe and zills.
Aside from t-h-i-n-g-s I’ve been doing, they also seem to have a natural flow. Some days I feel more physically active, others I can spend writing for hours. I can paint some days and others I ignore my painting completely.
Some days feel so productive and others are soft and quiet. I spend them inside meditating, chanting, chatting with friends or watching tv.
It’s been so enlightening to live day to day without judgement of what I’m doing. It seems I get just as much done in a week moving with my natural rhythm as I would yelling at myself every day to live up to some kind of ideal of productivity.
My days don’t look the same, though I may do the same activities. Each one seems to be unique. Every run I go on looks and feels different. I think it’s because I wake up and I allow myself to listen to my internal impulses. This keeps me in the moment. I’m not running an an old software program; I am more present in each activity.
Something magical happens when you stop pushing. When you push too hard, you push back against yourself and so you have lost your natural impulse. This doesn’t apply to pushing yourself in a particular activity, like running. That’s different. That’s firing yourself up to reach new heights. That’s inspired.
But pushing from a place of fear or inadequacy or judgement is toxic. It makes you imagine as though that will lead you to accomplish your goals, but it’s a lie. Even if/when you do accomplish your goals you will have developed a toxic system for yourself. The ends never justify the means. (This is excluding extreme circumstances.)
What have you learned about yourself during this time? What habits would you like to keep? Did this time feel like syncing back up with yourself?