While evolving into the current 2021 version of myself, I’ve somehow lost the ability to slow down. I can’t tell you the last show I binge-watched over a weekend. Rarely do I have downtime to scroll through social media (sorry marketers, not all millennials are as obsessed with social media as you may think).
My “slow down shortcoming” could be due to a few factors: the fear of sitting alone with my thoughts, the apathetic sense of non-doing, or the horrifying thought of time wasted.
If you’re familiar with the Enneagram, you will understand these are characteristics of the Enneagram Type 3: The Achiever. According to Enneagram Institute, Achievers are, “ambitious, competent, and energetic. They can also be status-conscious and highly driven for advancement …They typically have problems with workaholism and competitiveness.”
Workaholism. This means at my worst, addictive habits and their consequences may look like overextending myself, engaging in extreme workouts, or excessive intake of stimulants like coffee. Check, check and check. It doesn’t help that, over the course of time, we’ve been conditioned to equate fast with achievement and slow with inertia. Both can be beneficial when balanced, yet equally destructive if left unmanaged.
It’s important to realize the benefits of slowing down are numerous. Research has found that when we’re idle, we allow our minds to wander. A surplus of downtime is known as time affluence. It allows us to feel more creative, become better at problem-solving, and happier. Psychologist Tim Kasser, calls time affluence “a path toward personal happiness.” The problem is, most of us don’t seek it, which may signify the need for a cultural shift: less doing, more being.
As I conclude another frenzied work week, I realize I have a rare weekend evening to myself while my husband works late. Grateful for this opportunity, and needing a mental and physical interlude, I scroll through MindBody to book a Friday night group-healing session at a local yoga studio. I pack up my yoga mat, an overstuffed pillow, a cozy blanket and hit the road.
Reaching my destination with just a minute to spare (Achievers are rarely late) I am socially distanced-but-warmly greeted by the intuitive energy healer. After a quick introduction, she instructs participants (myself and one other woman) to lie down, get comfortable, and allow our minds to drift. The lights dim and my thoughts follow.
Over the course of an hour, our guide and healer conducts what she calls collective energy healing. According to Deborah King, educator, attorney, and leading authority on energy medicine, energy healing “is the practice of tapping into the universal energy field for information and then making small shifts in the individual’s personal energy field in order to help someone heal of mental, emotional, or physical distress.”
Our facilitator then changes course, shifting from the collective to the individual. From the corner of my eye I can barely distinguish her silhouette in the darkened room, but she appears to be standing over the other participant as though in deep thought or prayer.
She then pads toward my direction and sits quietly between the crown of my head and the mirrored studio wall. “Katie” she whispers. “Do you mind soft touch?” Without speaking, I shake my head “no’’.
Almost one year into the pandemic, hands-on assisting in yoga classes went out the window long ago. Thus, I am surprised by her question and welcome her healing touch as she cradles my neck and head between her palms. The feeling is soft but grounding. The mental image that forms is an illustration of Earth supported by two hands reaching through the dark from an obscure point of origin. Suspended but sustained.
Sensations include waves rippling through the course of my body and subtle vibrations radiating from the palms of my hand. Interestingly, it’s during my post-session reading I learn these experiences are viewed as shifts in energy — exactly what I came for! After paying $40 for what essentially qualifies as adult nap time, I better experience a massive energy shift!
As we conclude our 60 minutes together, our healer advises us to drink lots of water through the weekend, which will allow our body to flush the toxins from our systems. She also cautions us of any intense feelings that may bubble to the surface, like an emotional purge. Hmmm … can’t hardly wait.
Later on, while recuperating from home and waiting for the ominous wave of emotions (what I feel instead is a wave of relief as the grip of my general anxiety loosens), I get a better understanding of how vicarious trauma plays a role in my “slow down shortcoming.” Sitting quietly with feelings of grief, fear, anger and despair can be overwhelming for anyone. This, compounded with the zeitgeist of the past year, can be debilitating.
What I uncover in my hour of non-doing is the power it bears. It gives us the space to quietly unfold.
Read past Seeker columns here.
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