How have I been reminded? My body is showing me. It's coming through in chronic holding patterns in certain muscles that clench and grip all the time, even when they don't need to. It's coming through in tiredness from days that are booked too fully or that I simply fill with too many things and too many hours. It's coming through in carrying an excessive number of books and notebooks with me for short trips, thinking I'll get to way more than I do (and more than I even want to). It's reflected in mental fatigue when I think I can do too many things, accomplish too many tasks, finish too many projects in too little time! It lives in unrealistic expectations imposed upon myself that I would NEVER hold for another human being.
How might this idea that “less is more” be supportive and nourishing if it could truly be embodied and brought to life?
- Well, for one, it would open up more space and time on the calendar, allowing for more breathing room, less stress, and more time to pause and relax.
- It would come through in a body that feels less tight, less over-worked, less over-stressed, more rested, more open, more expansive.
- It would be reflected in less clutter and more open space, fewer clothes overflowing closets and drawers, fewer books taking up every inch of shelf space and beyond (which would also lead to more breathing room and spaciousness).
- Overall there would be a sense of trying less hard - less tension and effort in yoga and Tai Chi, and even in meditation. There would be a remembering there's no need or way to be perfect (especially with something that's new!).
- It would come through in a more relaxed way of being in the world… letting go of any need to impress anyone or prove anything. Letting go of being the doer-of-all-things and the taker-carer-of-all-people.
- There would be a sense of sweet simplicity, taking things one moment at a time - not multi-tasking, double-booking, or over-committing. This is a great time to year to be conscious about that!
- There would be fewer programs paid for and never completed or feeling woefully behind in - pausing and discerning before following “bright shiny objects” everywhere would keep you cued in to what is really doable and what would truly be beneficial at this time in your life, given your current reality.
- You'd find yourself not packing things too full - programs, PowerPoints, retreats, vacations, days… life!
- Life would move at a sustainable pace and in a sustainable way. You could lower the bar on yourself - lessen unreasonable expectations.
- You'd experience more lightness, ease, and joy, I believe! As there is less stress, angst, anxiety and worry, there's room for more openness, acceptance, wonder, and support.
What does it require?
- Mindful awareness
- A willingness to resist temptation, the ability to say “no” and to be realistic
- Pause (that pause… it's always so, so valuable)
- Honesty, particularly with yourself
- Gentleness and self-compassion
Of course, I offer all of this hypothetically speaking! I have only a vague idea what it really means to live from a “less is more” place, but I can certainly imagine the possibilities! I am willing to try it out more often!
Take a few minutes to consider if “less is more” is something you'd like to experiment with in your life. Would it benefit you in any way? How and where might you begin to play with this idea, lightly, gently, and kindly? (no harsh taskmaster in a “less is more” world!).
Is there anything you need to give yourself permission for? A promise you want to make to yourself?
Play with these prompts, if you like:
I'd like less___________and more ___________
I will create less ________ and make room for more ______________
If less is more, what's possible?
Where would I like to begin?
This week's meditation, “Less is More," invites you to apply it to your practice - trying less hard, expecting less of yourself and of your practice.