How to hum along the highway of life instead of chugging along the dirt road
We need to take care of ourselves, just like we need to take care of our cars. The more fuel we burn, the more we need to fill our tank. Not just the cheap stuff either, the high-quality fuel. We need available energy to use. We need free flowing energy that’s available for all the good times and all the bad times. In yoga terms, it’s called healthy prana. Prana is the energy of life. One factor that burns excess fuel is stress. The better our prana is flowing, the better we can handle stress. We are more adaptable. Stress can be in many forms; deadlines, illness, the news, over scheduling, overexposure to electronics, toxins in our environment, and toxic relationships cause stress on our system. We all have stress, there is no way to avoid it. We all burn fuel when we are dealing with stress. And we all have a needle that creeps to the empty side now and then. The problem with running on fumes and too close to empty is we become chronically exhausted, impatient, cranky, sick, depressed, or addicted which leads to masking the root cause with cheap ineffective fuel like caffeine, drugs, sugar, alcohol, or drama. Each time we fill our tank with quality fuel - quality energy - the healthier we are in body, mind, and spirit. Life becomes more enjoyable and easier because our tank is full!
What’s your fuel? What enhances your prana?
There are many different ways to fuel up and for each of us, it can look a little different. It’s easy to start with the form of fuel we all share: the breath. Breathe with attention and intention. Keep it simple and sweet. Set an intention to enjoy the next breath with gratitude for the miraculous function right down to the exchange of gasses at the subatomic level. Then give it your full attention with all your senses. That’s good fuel! That’s prana!
Discovering other forms of fuel for us is fun! And making it a priority is even more fun! I group my areas of fuel into three categories; old pleasures, new pleasures, and self-care. Maybe it will help you find new and fun ways to add fuel to your tank.
What are your old pleasures? What did you enjoy as a child? When I was young I loved sitting in our apple tree, riding my bike and being in the snow - I loved snow - especially at night under the stars - quiet, cool and peaceful. Gradually as I got older I stopped doing those things. With more responsibilities and distractions we may lose those activities that fill us up, make us happy, or bring us peace. Look back at your childhood. What are your simple happy memories? Can you replicate them somehow into your life now? I don’t climb trees anymore but I do hug them, touch them, talk to them and listen to them. I ride my bike. I pet my dog and make sure I talk to him. I look up at the sky every chance I get. I gaze at the stars, the moon, the clouds and the colors. I even lay in the snow whenever I can. As you reflect and journal on your childhood memories maybe you’ll notice a common thread. My common thread is being out in nature. That’s my best fuel for nourishing my prana - filling my gas tank.
What are your new pleasures? Some forms of fuel we don’t discover until we are adults. Maybe it’s playing cards, wood carving, tea with friends, painting, knitting, bingo, drawing mandalas, flower arranging, reading or cooking. Start noticing how you feel after activities. If it energizes you it’s fuel! You are feeding your prana. If it sucks your energy - forget it!
Somebody else’s fuel may not be your fuel! I learned that shopping is a fuel siphon for me. I have a hard time with it. I always have. I have stopped wondering what’s wrong with me and have accepted that it’s something that doesn’t fuel me. You may be different, shopping may fill you up! Go for it! I have also learned that big crowds aren’t my fuel. I like small parties and more intimate gatherings. This is important to keep in mind because we can’t always avoid our energy sappers. We can limit them, however. We can also use our personal fuel to fill up before and after if we must take part in a fuel sucker!
Share your self-discovery with others!
When you know what fuels you (and what doesn’t) share it with your partner, children, and friends. Not only will they appreciate knowing what works for you but maybe it will send them on a path of self-discovery. It was liberating to tell my two daughters that shopping depleted me. It was also a healthy example to model to them how I take time for the extra fill up before and after a shopping trip. They understand my shopping limits and respect it. It might be liberating for your friends too. Maybe they would rather play bingo or draw mandalas with you instead of going out to eat. Maybe they prefer one on one lunch dates rather than large dinner parties. This is a healthy discussion. Honoring your energy and the energy of others close to you makes for healthy boundaries and relationships.
Daily self-care adds octane to your fuel!
Self-care is also a fantastic fuel. Self-care will boost your energy and eventually will become a source of pleasure. These habits and practices are what I call the non-negotiables. They are the things I know I must do daily to keep my engine humming - my prana flowing. My non-negotiables are walking, yoga, meditation, and self-massage. If I don’t make them a priority I burn my fuel quickly. I’m less efficient, less happy, less peaceful. These things along with my old and new pleasures are MUST-DOs for me. By the way, if I have to choose ONE - I would choose meditation. I have found it to be the key to a day lived with vitality and a peaceful flow.
It isn’t selfish and you have the time!
As a yoga teacher, I hear a lot of guilt and feelings of selfishness from students who take time for themselves. I also hear the excuse “I don’t have time” for self-care. To this, I have one thing to say. How can we serve others and our community genuinely and with quality if our tank is empty? What would you rather drive, an old rusted jalopy chugging along spitting and sputtering on fumes or a sleek shiny red Porsche smoothly humming down the highway with a full tank of high octane? Who would you rather be with? Someone who is nearing empty - exhausted, impatient, cranky, inattentive? Or someone who is attentive, pleasant, grateful, positive, giddy, open-minded, flexible - prana filled up!?! That someone is US. The person we spend 24 hours a day with. It may mean a radical shift in taking responsibility for ourselves - why not start with the pleasures of filling your tank.
We owe it to ourselves, our family and community to keep our tank full! High octane full. No excuses. Take care of your prana and flow! Share with me what fills you up. If you need ideas - especially in the meditation, self-massage, and yoga department, ask your teachers. (or e-mail me) Your prana feeds my prana. We fill each other up! Enjoy! You are worth it! We are worth it! #goloveyourself