Living fully awake is brave and beautiful


Last week I wrote a blog called Two Things about creating space within our lives by letting go of toxic productivity. As I wrote I realised that there was more to I wanted to say so this comes as part two.

I heard the saying “work hard, play hard” recently and it was used as an accolade to being a good and healthy way to live. I could feel a mild exhaustion emerge within me just by hearing those words. Where within that life was there any space? Where was the time to rest, to take a breath, to be, to lie back and watch the clouds? Of course we’re all different and we all have different optimum levels in life, some thrive with more activity, some need more rest but I’m convinced we all need “nothing” space daily, weekly, monthly and yearly.

As I’ve discovered the joy of having space in my life I feel as if it’s become something that I can no longer live without. When that space closes down through busyness I feel constricted inside, I go dull and numb, I loose touch with myself. I get lost in a greyness of survival mode living in a perpetual groundhog day. Even the fun things lack their full colour and vitality.

It can take courage to open up space in our lives, we can fill it all up as an anaesthetic to connecting more deeply with ourselves, our struggles, our pains and our emotions. Toxic productivity can come in handy when we’re scared to be alone with ourselves and what we may discover in that solitude. We can become adept, without even realising it, at avoiding ourselves and not living fully awake. To live fully awake is a brave way to live as it means we live awake to the joy and the pain – we feel all the feelings.

I’m reminded of a person I’ve been accompanying for a while now who, when they came to me were busy and over-extended. They were also facing a big life transition that was taking them through grief and loss. The invitation emerged to slow down, breathe deeply and start walking into the darkness of their current journey, a darkness that could have been circumnavigated had they chosen to numb out on playing and working hard. In choosing to face into the dark rather than away from it and create space to be with the pain and perplexity they have come into greater places of freedom and healing. I have watched this person grow more fully into their true self, I’ve witnessed hope and possibility surface within the space that their courage has created.

Choosing to be alive to our lives isn’t always easy and it takes a while to wake up. But something shifts in the process. Being awake means being more present, seeing more fully, stopping in moments of awe and wonder at the simplest of things. There is less blur, less of the wheels of life driving ever onwards. Life takes on a different perspective and can be viewed from more than one angle. Yes, feelings are deeper when you’re awake, they’re experienced in their fullness and yet even when they’re strong and painful being awake invites us to walk through them out into the new, expanded horizon. Being awake has the potential to invite change and new ways of living, what was once important may loose significance, we make new discoveries about what’s important to us.

Being numb may feel like a protection and being busy may be the tool we use to stay there but to be awake is to truly live – every part, every moment, every tear and every joy. It’s messy, it’s at times perplexing, but it’s also full, rich and beautiful.

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