At least once a day I have the urge to squeeze my eyes closed, cover my ears and yell, “LALALA” in order to drown out the confrontations, discouragement and anxiety of our times.
At least once a week I day dream of going off the grid, retreating to a cabin in the woods without ever coming back.
At least once a month I pull the covers over my head and feel certain that the weight of the world will crush my spirit beyond repair.
A yoga teacher once told me that the concept of practice is about return. My yoga practice is a time and space for me to intimately encounter my limitations—of mobility, strength and focus. At times, my limitations feel overwhelming and the space between my practices widens in avoidance of those encounters. And yet time and time again, I return to my mat, I return to my body, I return to my limitations. I lean gently into the edges of discomfort and create space for growth.
Life is an encounter of the limitations of hope, compassion, love and grace. I am learning that the practice of living is a practice of return. I must return again and again to my relationships, my livelihood, my passions, my work. I lean gently into those edges of discomfort in order to create more space for healing. Each time I return I feel a little stronger, a little lighter, a little more renewed.
An encounter with the wilderness can create that sense of renewal. Time in the wilderness can be a space from which we return. My weekly walk in the woods is as much about the joy of my work as much as it is about the joy of being in nature. In order to return to my yoga mat, I have to leave it. In order to return to the work of compassion, I have to take a break.
Wild encounters return us to ourselves and to the visions we have of rebuilding a broken world. We need to create space to organically move with the ebb and flow of our limitations before we become desperate for escape. We need to allow for the risk of unplugging from the work that feels so urgent in order to prevent ourselves from exploiting our own resources of compassion. Stepping away from the work is not a sign of weakness. It is a commitment to sustainable rhythms of growth.
Gestures of renewal do not have to be grandiose. Take a moment today to set your feet on the ground, to reach your arms over head and take the deepest breath you can. Then return to your work a little lighter, a little stronger, a little bit renewed.