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The lack of inspiration, the feeling of utter fatigue.
Can you spell B-U-R-N O-U-T ?
BY MAGAZINE COLUMNIST CORINNA BARSAN
Ever have one of those moments where your body fails you? When it quits on the spot even though your mind is already ten steps ahead before it realizes your body isn’t doing what you’ve asked it to?
I had one of those experiences recently when my lower back, acting on behalf of my entire self, decided it had had enough abuse.
Learning the hard way
I was getting out of bed one morning — no acrobatics, I swear — and I just froze in a mid-air squat.
Ouch! Must be some fluke pain, I told myself as I tried to get up again. And down I went. Meanwhile, my mind, which was already in the kitchen making coffee, caught up with my body, registered the problem, and out came the words:
Honey, I can’t move!”
The bitter truth was that behind this back failure was one lesson I was going to learn the hard way. Lady Universe had been sending me clues for months and she thought it was high time I took notice.
I’m no spring chicken but I still have plenty of spring in my step. At mid-thirty-something, I face my days with even more push and drive than I did at twenty-something.
I subscribe to that head-in-the-clouds approach: Nothing can stop me! I’m invincible! I over-schedule meetings, add that one more thing to my to-do list, stay later than late at the office, forget to eat, and do the advanced class at the gym, when I really want to cat nap.
Superwoman meets neon stop sign
To make matters worse, I don’t heed the warning signs of meltdown when they show up—the twitching eyes, body aches, the lack of inspiration, the feeling of utter fatigue that all spell B-U-R-N O-U-T.
Well, ha ha ha, the joke is on me. And on you if most of this sounds familiar, which, I’m sorry to say, I’m sure it does.
Strike up small talk with commuting neighbors, colleagues, friends, and family and it’s like listening to a broken record. Life is too busy, there are too many demands, and you try to be superhuman when you’re really just human. But if you don’t act on the warnings to slow down, you’ll eventually hit a wall. It’s Lady Universe’s last ditch effort to get you to stop once and for all before you extinguish.
My wall was covered in bright neon graffiti that read: Stop pushing so hard. Be good to yourself. Smell the roses dammit! Since I hadn’t been paying attention, I smacked right into those bricks.
It’s funny how life will deliver your lessons whether you want them or not. You can turn off the gentle whisperings, you can ignore the rapping at the door, but it’s only when your feet are knocked out from under you that you’ll actually listen—you have no choice, really, when your face is kissing the ground … and that’s the point.
Second helping, anyone?
Suddenly humble and reflective become the order of the day. When you urge yourself to go faster, work harder, do more more more, and you end up out of commission, you’re suddenly humble and aware that you need to take it easy, leave that one more thing until tomorrow, and chillax.
The lesson has been forced upon you, the hard and painful way, but at least you’ve absorbed it – whether temporarily or permanently is left to be seen.
It depends on how much of a glutton for punishment you are.
The saying goes that if you work hard, you also need to play hard. I’d like to add to that: rest hard. And resting for me means stepping on the brakes before I hit that brick wall of exhaustion.
If you could read the writing on your wall before you slam into it head first, what would it say?
The pause that refreshes! You can find Corinna Barsan’s musings and discoveries on her blog at Shiny White Page.
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© 2011, The Magazine of Yoga, LLC.