Life has ironies. I’m not sure how it happened, but I myself went through a pretty big wall in my journey forward. I couldn’t feel the need, desire or wish to serve, work, even get out of bed. It was probably burnout, and usually after a break, I would be up and raring to go!
So, Eddy and I headed out to Cameron Highlands (more of that later), but sadly, after the holiday, I felt even more lethargic. In fact, I almost felt like I was falling ill.
I haven’t discussed it here, but I share caregiving duties with my brother to look after both my parents – who are ageing and somewhat unwell. That has taken a toll out of me, both mentally and emotionally. This obviously affects me physically and with my job.
So what did I do?
Firstly, I continued with my meditation, reiki and movement practices. Part of me realised that my movement practices also felt stale, so I began digging around for something new to do, something that my reinvigorate me – and I remembered, swimming!
I used to swim every single day (rain or shine, holiday or working days) about 2 km per session. Some days, I did pyramid drills, some days I did long distance, some days it was all about a leisurely swim – but swim I did!
So, I began to plan to swim, and managed to go swimming on some days when I was free and the weather was good. The change in exercise routine went quite a long way towards rejuvenating me.
The first experience of being in the pool after more than a decade was interesting. When I first pushed off, I found myself so deep under the surface, I struggled to reach a level when I could take a breath! That was really a new experience, because swimming was my THING! I only reached a level of comfort and lightness by the seventh lap!
Swimming is a great meditative movement practice. The water has a healing effect, and the rhythmic breathing also induces a meditative state. Yet, we need to be alert and mindful, otherwise we may end up in other lanes, or bashing against the end of the pool! Hey, it has happened (but not to me).
Swimming was just in addition though. I maintained a weights workout routine, and also practised yoga on the mat at least once a week. But being in the pool helped to buoy me.
So if you find yourself burnt out, and even your favourite physical activities come off stale and boring, try searching yourself for something that may reinvigorate you. Maybe a walk in a park with good weather may help refresh you.
My spiritual growth has taken a backseat over the last few months. I must admit, caregiving made me super deluded with my practice, because no matter how much I sat and practised concentration, or sent reiki to myself, I found myself clinging on to past expectations and triggers.
Interestingly, I began reading notes on the ‘Philokalia‘, which is an ancient text referred to in the Eastern Orthodox church. From there, an Orthodox friend referred me to a book called “The Orthodox Way” by Kallistos Ware. Both books helped me to see how much deeper and richer the Christian religion is, compared to the Calvinism espoused in the church I used to go to. If ever anyone says Christianity has no spiritual practices, I would point them to the Orthodox Church, where spirituality in ingrained in their doctrine and theology. In fact, their theology is mysticism.
So I began to meditate using the Prayer Rope, which is a centring prayer method of concentration, and having the understanding that I learnt through those two books on Orthodox Christianity. I derived so much more clarity and the ‘blocks’ and staleness in my life and work slowly began to clear out (*touch wood!*).
I am not saying that this method is the best for you, or that you need to convert to Orthodoxy or anything like that. I’m just recounting my journey the last two months on learning to let go and move forward.
The thing is – when something isn’t working or has stopped working for us – there is a way forward. We just need to have ourselves a little adventure.
In addition to diversifying my movement and methods of meditation, I also took self-retreats now and then. When I found I had a full free day, or an afternoon off, I scheduled in my head a retreat, maybe looking like this:
- Reflective podcast or wisdom reading
- Refreshments / walk with cat
- Yoga self-practice
And that would be a half-day retreat in itself. I took about two or three of these during this two-month burnout period, and you can do the same. Some days, I just wanted to stay home the whole day, and some days, I just wanted to drive wherever my nose led.
Whichever method you choose to take, you would know it helps if you feel better afterwards, maybe having gained a fresher outlook or more clarity in mind.
The way forward.
I would be lying if I said that all parts of my life feel fresh and rejuvenated and revitalised. Some parts still feel like a drudge, but there is renewed vigour in me. So if you missed me in June 2022, I was basically practising pratyaya – withdrawal – and looking into myself and seeking counsel on how to let go and how to proceed.
What have you been up to? Tell me in the comments!