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Mind, body and soul in balance

Updated: Jul 18, 2021

"It takes courage to say yes to rest and play in a culture where exhaustion is seen as a status symbol," Brene' Brown.

Most people can relate to the over-glorification of "Busy." How many times you have listened to your friends or coworkers brag with exhaustion as they talk about the 8 committees they serve on, family duties, etc. almost as if whoever is the most exhausted, depleted, physically compromised "wins,' the discussion of who has it worse.

I have worked for 20 years in the healthcare system as a counselor, navigator, case manager, advocate and social worker for people facing cancer. There were times in my career I would leave a family in distress at work to pick up my daughter from aftercare who was anxiously waiting for me, hoping to not be "the last kid picked up."

In the midst of this busy life, I took the time to attend a work-related conference out of town. A small break from the routine created the space and insight I needed to recognize exactly what was going on with me. I now believe that before then... I felt it, the anxiety of being pulled in too many directions, the compromised physical health, and most deeply the weary spirit, but I didn't really give those things any attention. I continued on my hamster wheel full speed ahead so as to not fall upside down.

The speaker was so vulnerable and real speaking from her personal real-life experiences. She talked of compassion fatigue. The idea that all the patience, and calm, and thoughtfulness, and energy got used up before she even made it home and so, once home, she was irritable, lashing out at her loved ones, over the clutter in the house, dinner, homework whatever. Did I really want my daughter to grow up with that kind of stress and tension every day around 6? It broke my heart to relate to her story so deeply.

I want to tell you that I am still in the healthcare field, I still advocate for patients, fight imperfect systems, make a difference in the community serving on boards of non-profits and I still provide counseling and case management to my patients. This isn't a story of someone who decided her work-life didn't have meaning and wasn't a good fit for her anymore. In fact, my work often is extremely fulfilling and meaningful. Mindfulness in my everyday life though, has given me a way to function where I don't leave depleted of my energy and kindness.

Disclaimer: I won't lie, I did cut the number of committees I work on in half, and my employer hired someone who could absorb some of my workload because I was able to talk intelligently about my boundaries during a difficult meeting one day and was heard and supported. I am not advocating for staying on the hamster wheel full speed, nor quitting the job and completely changing gears.

However, you can find your own balance and path in time.

What mindfulness and meditation does for all of us is allow us the time to be more aware of what we really need in this life, what gives it meaning, where we spend our energy, and how to function in a hectic and busy-glorified world. We practice tuning into small moments, paying attention to our physical body, mind, emotions, tuning in to what is happening in real time, in everyday practical crazy-busy life. In becoming more aware, we are then able to decide how we want to proceed and what we need. Sometimes, it is simply a moment, a deep breath, a small change in the mindset before moving on to the next real life, busy-world activity.

If this article resonates with you in some small way, I hope you are inspired to begin a mindful practice. I will be holding weekend retreats a few times a year here in Ocala, FL if you would like to practice being our imperfect selves with a sense of curiosity, kindness and most importantly no judgements.

Amy K Roberts, LCSW, MMT

Mindfulness Meditation Teacher

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