I was very sick a while back.
I was too ill to leave the house for three weeks, and, two moths later, I am still coughing.
When I went to the Doctor, she told me,
“It’s a virus. I can’t do anything for you: go home and sleep it off.”
I am, essentially, convalescing. I can’t walk too far or too fast, I get muscle soreness from my yoga practice, and I need a lot of sleep.
I also can’t eat any hard-to-digest foods (basically anything that’s not fruit or veggies) or drink coffee or alcohol without relapsing.
This, as a friend pointed out to me, is an unfashionable state of being in our instant gratification culture. We want to be better NOW, rich and famous NOW. Or whatever. You get the gist.
I have certainly noticed this: people asking,
“Are you STILL sick?”
As though I should have just gotten better in three days, since that’s the only acceptable time limit for illness.
But this illness has been a learning experience: I’ve had to be more compassionate with myself than before, because I have had no choice. I have also had to learn to dig my heels in and say ‘no’ to anything that may deplete my nebulous energy.
I’ve said ‘no’ to a lot of stuff lately: especially stuff of the partying and drinking wine variety.
This has pissed some of my friends off.
I am still available to them for walks in the park, quiet visits at home, and the odd (decaf) coffee at a nice cafe, but I say no to the parties.
I was really quite puzzled as to why someone would be upset by my illness and concomitant changes in behaviour until I realised that by moving more slowly than everyone around me, I am inadvertently casting judgement on their choices. And that makes them uncomfortable.
It is not fashionable to move slowly these days: we all think we have to move fast in order to keep up. I think that forpetessake!
It’s been really hard to slow down and realise that the world (and my business) has continued just fine without me running alongside it as fast as my short little legs will carry me.
And that I need to give my body time to heal. The amount of time it needs will be determined by my body, and not my mind. I can’t set a deadline on the end of my convalescence. I just have to rest and wait.
I am learning to wait. To accept where I’m at.
And I am learning not to feel pressurised back into superfastmotion.
It’s not my natural way – that’s why I have always needed yoga. Precisely because I am not a natural yogi!
I need a practice where I slow my breath and movement so that I can have some release from the rest of my life!
I’d go so far as to say I also needed this illness because, after a huge year (going public about my child sex abuse, starting two new businesses, moving house and my cat running away!) I needed permission to convalesce.
Permission to slow down.
To be unconcerned about what comes next.
To remember that it is the incremental, disciplined actions, repeated over a long time, that make the difference, rather than one big flashy act.
As I launched my retreat business, my corporate yoga business, and then my yogAttitude cards, I found myself falling into the instant-gratification trap of imagining that this one thing: this article, or this advert, or this networking function, would be The Thing that changed everything.
Well, everything has changed, but it’s a result of all those actions I took, all the hard work.
I couldn’t point to any single strategy and tell you that was the one that made my businesses fly. Some worked better than others, sure, but none created instant change.
It’s been slow and steady – from the outside looking in, you would see an instant success, but it’s taken years to get to this point: years of learning business skills, teaching skills, building networks, learning to write coherently, dealing with the emotional issues that were getting in the way of achieving my full potential.
It’s much like recovering from this illness: a year from now, I (and hopefully those people who are irritated with me for being slow) will look back on it as a time when I learnt, even more deeply, the lesson of everything in its time.
Work in its right time.
Rest in its right time.
Right now, it’s rest time.
I think I might have a nap, actually!
After ten years of teaching yoga, Nadine Fawell has discovered that sometimes, an afternoon in a nice cafe is what you really need.
She is the author of the yogAttitude Cards and leads retreats in Australia and Bali.
It’s a good life!