The gift of stopping

Ever feel over-stuffed?

Over stuffed with food? With thoughts? Worries? Things to do, places to go, people to see and promises to keep?

Yeah, me too.

It’s the food that finally put me over the edge. I suddenly realized that it didn’t matter how great the meal, how fine the ingredients, or how good the wine— I wasn’t really tasting any of it.

I was eating on automatic.

And if my stomach was on automatic, the rest of me probably was too. So, I decided to go on a juice fast. For 10 days.

I’ll skip the gruesome details because I don’t want to scare anybody off doing a juice fast if they’re actually considering doing one. Honest, it’s more than just a ”misery loves company” move on my part. It’s a healthy thing to stop consuming every once in awhile.

Sure, Days 1-2 were a wrestling match with hunger, and Days 3-4 were spent surfing a tidal wave of negative emotions. By the 3rd trip to the Co-op I was already tired of buying endless leafy green organic vegetables and I definitely wouldn’t be using any dangerous equipment—like a bandsaw—until it was over. 

But by Day 5 there was peace in my body and mind—a calmness I haven’t felt in a long time.

True, so far I’m not getting a lot “done” in terms of work. It’s Day 6 and this blog is 3 days late. But … LIFE has suddenly taken over as a priority.

Normal everyday tasks are, for the moment, not obscuring more important things. I’m not stuffing myself with STUFF—food, shopping, texting, movies, entertaining—confusing those things with quality of life.  I’m not spending every waking hour buried in appointments, worries, and deadlines.

Because I’m not filling my moments with stuff outside me there’s an expanding sense of what’s inside—who and what I am, and an increasing capacity to genuinely respond to life’s moment-to-moment requirements.

When a friend calls, instead of reading my emails while I’m on the phone with them, I’m really listening. Instead of frantically dashing into the next big work project, I’m tending to little things left undone, letting the creative juices simmer. Who knows? If I back off the pressure valve, maybe something marvelous and unexpected will have room to show up!

The project will be there next week. My friends will be too. And so will all my responsibilities. But I will be different for having taken time to STOP.

More “primitive” cultures employ the tactic well. They know to stop cutting trees so their ecology stays healthy. They know to not over-harvest, over-hunt and over-fish. They know to take care of their resources. They know to get quiet and go within to seek council from Spirit when things seem out of balance.

They don’t live life as busy consumers. They live as wise partners. But in the privileged modern West?

Hey, most of us don’t even know when to stop eating anymore.

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