“You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes a day, unless you are too busy, then you should sit for an hour.” ~Ancient Zen proverb
I used to think that life was about powering through things. I’d grab a latte, write my to-do list, and proudly cram as many things as possible into my day.
At work, there was staff, payroll, invoices, customers, marketing, and the occasional cleaning of an office bathroom. At home, there was parenting, dinner, cleaning, homework, bedtime, laundry, and plans for the next day. When my eyes could no longer remain open, I’d fall into a restless night’s sleep accompanied by a busy mind and grinding teeth.
I figured I had no choice. I had two kids, a husband, a landscape business, a school that wanted parent participation, a co-housing community with obligations, and an overachiever complex.
There was plenty on my plate just being a mother of two with a family business. But what made matters worse was me going above and beyond. I was president of the school foundation, head chef for community meals, point person for committees, and in my free time, (when was that exactly?) an aspiring athlete training for triathlons. I wanted to be the woman who could do it all, and do it well.
Being busy made me feel important. The more I juggled, the more praise and attention I got from others, fueling my sense of purpose. It fed my ego and gave me the adrenaline to keep going.
Without being busy I thought my life would look insignificant. I might disappear like a beige house in a sea of endless tract homes, bland and provincial. So I filled every second of every day with a sense of purpose and a mission that never left room for rest. When no one needed me, I scrambled for something or someone to engage with. I’d repaint a bedroom or rework our website to keep from being unproductive.
My busy-ness became an addiction. Another project complete, another shot of adrenaline. I felt good and sh*t was getting done!
But similar to a person with anorexia who starves herself to the point of hospitalization, I was so focused on getting results that I didn’t realize the toll it was taking on me.
I told my concerned parents I was fine, and that it all needed to happen. I rationalized that I had to do it all for the sake of my family. But underneath it, I was wearing out. My back hurt, my jaw ached, and according to my Ayurvedic practitioner, I’d worn down my adrenal glands, which would eventually lead to other health…