Nearly every Friday I attend a yoga class taught by a friend who lives in her body in the most beautiful way. It’s yin yoga – a series of gentle postures held for long periods of time, and it’s the perfect way to end the week after walking, hiking, or lifting weights on other days.
This morning, as I watered the garden and tended to the plants, I thought about the yoga class and how it’s helping me to slow down and move more intentionally through life. As I pruned back the squash leaves dominating the vegetable bed, cut lavender to dry in the pantry, and harvested piles of purple basil for pesto, I made a point to do one thing at a time with patience and presence. I lightly watered the plants rather than blasting the hose and overwhelming the foliage. I carefully removed spent leaves from around the base of each plant instead of leaving them behind to form a wet mess over time.
I used to garden like I worked, an industrious multitasker with attention to efficiency and speed. Life was a race and my goal was to get to the finish line as soon as possible so I could get on to the next task. Slowing down was a luxury I couldn’t afford because my nervous system was trained to move at lightning speed.
But nervous systems grow old. Years of pushing too hard causes the body to rebel and that’s when we’re forced to make peace with putting the brakes on in order to stay well. It’s not easy. There are some days when I still feel like an Arabian horse charging into the day, moving so quickly (and unconsciously) that I miss my life. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve forgotten what I had for breakfast or walked into a room only to have to retrace my steps to remember what I was about to do. I forget these things not because I’m getting old or developing dementia. It’s because I’m not there. My head moves before my body has a chance to catch up and the whole system falters.
Self-care in the wisdom years has been about pulling back on the reigns. Slowing down. Doing one thing at a time. Canceling the whole notion of emergencies altogether. After all, I have enough history behind me to know that there are very few things that require my immediate attention and more things worth lingering over.
So, there you have it, sweetheart. The old Arabian horse is becoming a mature mare who saunters into the day with joy and ease expecting life to wait for her.
And it does….