Dear Homegrown Yogis,
During our August weekend of teacher training, Rachel McInnis led a discussion for our class about meditation – both how to establish a personal practice ourselves and how to help others do the same. While talking about the benefits of meditation, Rachel explained a behavioral tendency that I’ve always recognized in myself but never understood it for anything other than “that’s how I’ve always been.”
Rachel said each morning we wake up with a certain amount of adaptive energy – this energy gives us our ability to pivot, respond and adapt to changing circumstances. Think about when you wake up in the morning and go to make your cup of coffee, only to realize you’re out of K-cups. Or when you get done ringing up your groceries at self-checkout and realize you left you left your wallet in the car. Or worst… when you get out of work late, hit every single red light and realize there is no way you’re going to get to yoga on time. Rachel explained that when we are rested and calm, we have plenty of adaptive energy that allows us to respond to these hiccups with a sense of perspective. It’s why after a good night of sleep and a smooth morning, forgetting your wallet at home is an inconvenience that can be laughed off while the same situation when exhausted can cause a total meltdown.
The good news Rachel explained is that although adaptive energy is depleted during the day, it is also a renewable energy. And one of the most effective ways to renew it… meditation! It’s why Rachel encourages us to meditate first thing in the morning to fill up on our adaptive energy and then again in the late afternoon as a refill for the evening.
This was all brand new information to me that made something click in my own mind. For as long as I can remember, nights have been the time that I have always seemed to lose perspective and feel like everything is going wrong. As Rachel was speaking, I realized why – by the end of the day I’ve depleted my adaptive energy and need sleep to refill. Recently however, I’ve been feeling like this from the moment I wake up no matter how much sleep I got the night before. Things like changes in plans or unexpected to-dos that used to just be a slight annoyance can now totally turn ruin my day.
I’ve been wondering why I’ve been on-edge for the last several months, and I realized when listening to Rachel that I’ve been running on constant empty when it comes to adaptive energy. When the pandemic first hit over a year ago and the world turned upside down, I thought to myself – I just need to push through and work ridiculously hard for a few months and then this will be over and I can breathe again. For a while that worked – I was running on adrenaline and pivoting and figuring things out and working late into the night and then waking up early to work even more. But now it’s clear that the need to pivot and figure things out on the fly isn’t going to be over in a few months and my adrenaline is gone and there’s still work to do.
What’s the answer then? I need to build in daily rituals to refill my adaptive energy or else I’m setting myself up to have every hiccup (which there will be many) turn into a meltdown. I need to make non-negotiable times to sit in quiet during the day (even if it’s in my car before walking inside), drink water (and maybe a few less Monsters), have some child-free time (sorry, Freida!), give myself grace on not doing everything perfectly (like not getting out this email until nearly mid September) and reflect on how I can stop spending my energy on things that drain it unnecessarily (boundaries, boundaries, boundaries!!). And on days and weeks where it doesn’t feel like I have a second to spare, I need to double-down on these rituals.
If I can say anything with confidence about this pandemic, it’s this: We’re in the midst of a marathon, not a sprint. So for those of us who have been relying on adrenaline and “pushing through,” I know you’re probably totally exhausted like I am. Here’s your invitation to refuel on that adaptive energy we’re all going to need… and P.S. I hear coming to yoga is a pretty amazing way to fill yourself up =)