‘Tim, do you love yourself reclining?’ asked a friend of mine recently.
I lead a very busy and hectic life and put substantial effort into a variety of areas – business, physical and creative – and this question stopped me in my tracks.
Do you love yourself reclining? We talked about the word reclining and she said it was the word that kept coming to her. The word reclining and a vision of me, lying down at complete rest.
I took sometime to consider her question. I had been filling my schedule from dawn til dusk for quite sometime and my initial thought was that I wasn’t sure anymore. I actually didn’t know whether I loved myself reclining.
Now, for the purpose of this piece we need to define what reclining means. Reclining, in this instance, means lying down in a completely relaxed state with no thought about work, mission, destiny or purpose whatsoever. And being deeply in love with yourself.
Let’s define love here as well. This does not refer to a a feeling of ‘I’m okay’, or ‘I’m alright,’ or ‘Things are going pretty well’. No, love here refers to a deep and overwhelming feeling of love and acceptance towards yourself. No thoughts of “I need to be this’, or ‘I have to be that’ – total and peaceful acceptance that you are worthy of your own love and respect.
When defined in this manner, my answer was no. No, I don’t love myself reclining.
Ironically, in my own way, I had been pondering this very issue. I had been thinking back to a time when everything seemed so easy, a time when I was successful with little effort at all.
I can remember how I felt in both mind and body at this time – I embodied a relaxed and carefree spirit who was rained upon by countless unexpected positive events, many, which did not even figure in the elaborate plans I had set for myself.
Somewhere, between then and now, I got lost. I came to believe all the motivational quotes about sacrificing this and sacrificing that. That if I wanted success I would have to sweat and I would have to bleed. When someone said, ‘to be successful you have to do this or you ‘gotta’ do that”, I believed it. For a time what I sacrificed was my health and my relationships. All part of the cause, I kept telling myself.
Please don’t take this as permission to be lazy or as a criticism of those who truly believe you need to flog yourself to get anywhere. You don’t have to do anything and you don’t ‘gotta’ do anything either. Each to their own! Hard work does pay off, of that I am certain. However, I have come to believe that making space for exercise, friends and family, healthy eating, creative pursuits and personal relaxation make me happier and increase my ability to align effective and efficient action that nourishes the soul within me. In fact, my whole approach to scheduling has changed – I now make time for the things that nourish me first and then I plug business into my schedule. Those closest to me have seen the dramatic impact this has had on my life.
There are challenges that come with this approach.
It has become quite common for us to believe that we have to have a full schedule. In many workplaces your car had better be in the car park early, and be there late, or people will question your commitment.
When making adjustments you might also like to revisit what success means for you and where your personal relationships fit into this. I know many health practitioners and healers who deal with the broken hearts, bodies and souls of those who have sacrificed ‘everything’ for success.
I know a lot of people who are genuinely very busy, me included, and sometimes you really do have to weather the storm. Just remember when the storm has passed some places are never the same and much can be lost, sometimes forever.
I will be forever grateful for my time ‘in the storm’, despite much being lost, for it was here that Phusion Living was born. For me, there had to be a better way and I found it. It may or may not be something for you but it is already changing lives. The lost are being found and the disconnected are being connected again.
Today, even when business is pressing and things need to be done ASAP – I despise that phrase by the way – I always make time for my personal pursuit of excellence in art and music. In fact working with paints and pastels has perhaps provided me with some of the most mindful moments of my life. It has allowed time to stand still, even as outside, lightness has turned to dark. To deny myself this time is to dishonour who I am. I am also currently reading a novel for the first time in…God knows how long. And I have done this guilt free as it has allowed me to celebrate the creativity of another and take a break from ‘me’, getting lost in another world with amazing characters. Surprisingly I have learnt much about life from this book as well. It really does ‘kick arse’!
And I am now making time to recline!
I still have a way to go, but next time my friend asks me the question that opened this piece it is my intention to be able to answer yes, with the utmost honesty.
Here’s a challenge for you. Spend 3 hours ‘reclining’ in a space of your choice. No work, no business, no exercise, no reading and no technology of any sort. You can write your thoughts down afterwards but try to just be, for 3 hours. It might be hard at first, but you might also be amazed with what comes of this experiment.
There will be more about why I believe this is a great practice to include in your schedule, no matter how busy you are, in my next blog!
Until then, have fun!
Tim Guthrie is the founder of Phusion Living approach to life. He is the author of the book, ‘Saving our Sons: The Making of a Modern Man’.