No B.S Friday: If you can’t power down, you’ll burn out.
I reckon I’ve come close to burning out a few times in my life.
Ask anyone who knows me. I’m pretty relentless. I’ve always got something on the go.
And I like that. The world has a lot to offer a guy like me. I want to get amongst it.
But, I’ve never been good at slowing down. And I really suck at doing nothing.
Like, it’s embarrassing.
I know I’m not alone in that. If doing nothing was easy, we’d all be enlightened masters rocking around in saffron robes.
(Who’s got time to go shopping when you’re enlightened?)
But doing nothing is hard. When I’ve tried meditation I’ve often found myself almost jumping out of my skin. My mind comes up with a million different mini-emergencies – things that need my attention RIGHT NOW – just to save me from the pain of doing nothing.
Seriously, when I try to sit still and ‘not think about anything’, it feels like trying to wrestle a grizzly bear to the ground. I generally feel like I’m way out of my depth.
And my mind has no respect for me. It will play along for a bit and let me think I’ve got the upper hand. But before I know it, the grizzly bear is up and running again and planning out an integrated marketing campaign for a new product while the mediation teacher is still going round the room lighting up the incense.
But, as hard as it is, I’ve also learned that I don’t have a choice. I can’t be “on” all the time. I need to power down – the mind as much as the body.
The mind just can’t be on all the time. It’s like a muscle. It can’t be constantly contracted, otherwise you’ll totally burn the muscle out.
And so you’ve got to slow it down. You’ve got to find a way to tackle that grizzly bear and pin it to the ground, and force it to take break. Just a little nap. You’ll feel much better for it.
Once I realised that this is what meditation is about (well, one of the things), it made a lot more sense to me.
And in that sense, I realised I didn’t need to be in a sandalwood-soaked community hall. I knew my mind. I could come up with my own strategies for powering it down.
But the key learning was about responsibility. The mind was a faithful servant, constantly pushing, constantly strategizing, constantly figuring out.
It was my responsibility to give it a break – to force it to take a break. It was my responsibility and nobody else’s.
So, have a think about this.
Is your grizzly bear of a mind constantly running, constantly on?
How can you ‘power it down’ and force it to take a break?
I know it’s not sexy work. It’s not exciting.
But if you can keep your mind fresh and refreshed, you’ll just enjoy life so much more.