I was away for five weeks this summer, enjoying the generosity of friends and family who were willing to share their cottages on lakes. In the midst of COVID-19 with few options to safely get away, this was the prefect solution.
The early months of lock down and all the pivoting required left me in need of replenishment. I know I’m at a low ebb when I’m just routinely “doing my to-do list.” This mode is based on a mentality of, “I know what I’m doing.” I’m making my life happen, but I sadly notice pleasure goes out the window.
On return from my time away I had a very interesting experience in my garden. Gardening is one of my joys. I feel so grateful to have a big side yard in the middle of the city, for flowers, herbs and raised beds for vegetables. During the early months of spring, while I was looking forward to getting into the garden, and had started seedlings to go there, my garden had unfortunately joined the long list of “things to be done.” Just one more thing that needed my attention. I was “doing” my garden versus “being in relationship” with the space and the plants.
Seeing with New Eyes
When I returned home, I had new eyes and new energy to take in the garden. I entered the garden, which was looking rather neglected, in a relational mode. Once again, I could feel the love and gratitude I have for this space. The weather was hot and so I just spent an hour or so at a time. I really tuned into what was most in need of attention, but as well, what I felt most drawn to attend to. When I’m in a relational mode with the garden I experience the truth that giving and receiving are one. I tend to the garden, but the garden also tends to me. When not in doing mode I really receive from it. It relaxes and renews me versus depletes me. I re-connected with the joy of keeping a garden and my connections with the plants.
It’s been so great to get back to this place with the garden, but I’m also musing about how the garden is always a metaphor for life. I’m asking myself questions like – And what about the rest of your relationships my dear - relationship with myself, my family and friends, my work? My relationship with pleasure itself?!
I notice exercise, cooking good food, or doing my meditations and journaling – the main stays of my self-care are a great source of pleasure, when I’m not just doing them to check off the boxes, and move onto the next thing.
Slow if Fast and Less is More
Like many people in my circles I live this privileged life, full of choice and awareness, freedom and safety, to create a life full of abundance and goodness. And yet how I am in relationship with it all – taking it for granted, or moving too quickly, based on a sense that just because I can have it all, I should. In that mode, I forget the foundational keys to pleasure that asserts slow is fast and less is more.
When I catch up with myself and see what’s happening, what’s obstructing pleasure, I can do a reset. I can even be patient and kind with myself – even have a sense of humour about it all. What is that adage I say, “We teach what we most need to learn?” So, I’m learning again. Pleasure is not often about the what, but the how. Almost anything can be pleasurable, if I bring presence, willingness and love, in other words, a relational stance, to what is at hand.
So, here it is almost fall and a form of lock down is still with us in most of the world. I face it with a renewed desire to be relational with what is. One of the gifts of COVID-19 is we have to be attentive. Old habitual ways of living require change, there’s little we can take for granted. Each day is a practice to live in the unknown, truly just living day to day, into the future, whatever that may bring.
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“I will begin a new relationship with my body” Unlocking Pleasure was an amazing concept, idea to work and play with explore”