On Sunday, I spent a luxuriously lazy day on my couch reading books, cuddling with my cats, hearing rumbles of thunder and drippy raindrops, drinking multiple cups of coconut chai tea.
But every now and then, a twinge of guilt and self-recrimination crept in:
“I should really go work out…I should be doing the laundry…I have so much to do…What is wrong with my energy level…Why don’t I feel more inspired to keep working?”
And the ultimate: “Stop being so LAZY.”
(That’s my grandmother Angeline’s voice, by the way.)
Loved her, and yet, she instilled a hefty dose of shame around being “lazy” in me.
Benefit: Work ethic.
Drawback: Unrelenting work ethic.
A particular kind of suffering arises from constant busyness: a disconnection from my self, source, and soul; and a growing ache for more presence, clarity, and communion with life.
Grappling with discerning rest from laziness, I’ll share some practices that I’ve found helpful:
Checking-Out or Checking-In?
In The Places that Scare You, Pema Chodron identifies three debilitating habitual patterns that we mistake for “down time” but are instead usually ways of checking out and numbing out:
- Having a comfort orientation
- Experiencing a loss of heart
- Adopting an “I couldn’t care less” attitude.
Experience “laziness” fully without judgment:
Get curious about laziness. Don’t ignore, resist, or condemn it.
Pema Chodron’s approach to working effectively with laziness parallels Nonviolent Communication practices of observing mindfully and getting to know “what is” deeply:
“Start experimenting with the warrior’s compassionate approach… Laziness has a basic living quality that deserves to be experienced just as it is. Perhaps we will find an irritating, pulsating quality in laziness. We might feel it as dull and heavy, or as vulnerable and raw… The process of experiencing laziness directly and nonverbally is transformative… It unlocks a tremendous energy that is usually blocked by our habit of running away… This is how laziness – or any other demon – introduces us to the compassionate life.”
So my fellow travelers:
Lean into discomfort.
Feel. Be present.
Watch and welcome whatever arises. These are the practices of a compassionate life.
Love it all up.