Keeping UP While Choosing Less
Mindfulness, Embodiment, and I Don’t know.
My new favorite ritual is going to Orange Theory Fitness. As the Bruno Mars song “24 K Magic” is mashed up with ACDC, some kind of mind-melting high pitch horn used as a high hat, and Salt and Peppa’s “Push It”, I’m on the treadmill trying to figure out what the fuck is happening while I’m staring at a sign that says “Don’t just wish for it, work for it!” and various other slightly annoying and inspiring quotes. Simultaneously I have this really poignant and equally annoying phrase, my superhero astrologer counselor Adam Gainsburg likes to use, rattling around in my head, “choose less”. And then suddenly as if in a movie when everything goes dreamy and slow motion, the question arises like a comic book bubble quote from the smirk on my face, “How the heck do I keep up and work for it while I choose less?” Then I snap back to the moment furiously jogging uphill on this machine towards my goals wondering what the fuck is happening!
“It’s show time, it’s show time. Guess who’s back again?” — Bruno
“Choose less” had been flashing in my head like a Las Vegas sign until I finally had to write and ask Adam, “I know it’s obvious, but what do you REALLY mean by that?” As if there is a mystical and spiritual meaning in it that I’m just not getting. He confirmed that it simply means to think and do less. As I read his reply, I got the sense there is some deeper meaning in that I’m just not quite ready to take in. Perhaps after I master my Orange Theory workout I’ll be prepared to absorb the full medicine of this phrase. One thing at a time, Sariah.
These torturous mornings at Orange Theory have proven to be a perfect place for me to pull up, examine, and hopefully delete a lot of my nasty, judgmental, mean, insecure, fear-based thoughts. As the Brittany Spears song “Toxic” plays, I’m rowing and breathing, mind racing with judgments and comparisons about the beautiful blonde woman next to me with the giant diamond ring. Suddenly I find myself in a whole fantasy about how I should have married a long time ago and all of the reasons why I’m not good enough to be and how I totally would be if I was small and blonde and perfect and and and, and THEN, it’s time for jumping medicine ball torture moves. GO!
“Too high, can’t come down. Losin’ my head, spinnin’ ‘round and ‘round. Do you feel me now?” — Brittany
My powers of disassociation are mighty and strong and had kicked into high gear causing me to leave my present moment because the workout was hard AF! Of course, I know I’m good enough to be married, but I had just found myself a kind of subconscious fueled dream state where my thoughts had taken over and were chastising me like little joy stealing monsters.
“Back off bitchy monster thoughts; I’m tryin’ to get my row machine on!”
I can tell you that kind of fantasy thinking is not what I’m choosing. So I think if I choose less of indulging in that kind of crap by committing to nipping those kinds of thoughts and stories in the bud as soon as I notice them, I’m choosing less. Win!
I noticed that when I was deep in my thoughts, I wasn’t giving it my all on the rowing machine, but as soon as I was jolted out of my story making with the shift to a new exercise, I was there jumping, squatting, breathing, and fully engaged. I think to myself “Sariah, you know this, you teach this stuff, why aren’t you a master at this yet?”. And there they are again, those thoughts, my negative ego creeping in and trying to keep me safe but sucking the life out of me with its invisible vice grips.
I do know this stuff, and I teach it, and I’m a woman, and I’m human. Humans, especially women, wax and wane like the moon. We are strong, and we are big, we are weak, we are small, we are moody, we are steady, we are intense and then mild, we change regularly. We don’t just master something, and suddenly we don’t have to be human anymore. Our integrated lessons help us be more masterful in our messy and beautiful humanity. I get excited about the life moments that reinforce that what I’m teaching isn’t bullshit and works!
So how does choosing less actually work and create change?
If I can choose less thinking, then I can be with myself more, I can feel my feelings, I can feel my heart, I can feel my body. When I’m accessing my whole system, I have access to more vitality, strength, focus, and presence to keep up with whatever is in front of me. Choosing less helps me keep up, and helps me work for what I want because I have more juice for it.
Have you ever had that experience of complete mental exhaustion?
That’s a bit of rhetorical question because if you are a human being, you certainly have. And I feel confident enough to say that you have probably felt this way lately. Why? Because I spend a lot of time supporting people and this gives me a unique view of the themes and patterns of struggle we share as brothers and sister humans. We live in a world of over thinkers and a mutual reliance on intellect that negates the power of our whole self. This kind of mental churn is tiresome, depleting, and many of us are chronically exhausted because of it.
So what happens if you choose to think less? What?? Think less?
Yes, we need to think, and we need to solve problems, plan, and make decisions. We do need to use our mind, but what happens when you start to pay attention to what you are thinking about and not only choosing better feeling thoughts but choosing to stop the thinking process when it becomes too much? What happens if you slow down and feel, indulging in the sensations of whatever is going on, even if it’s highly uncomfortable? The results can be fascinating because when you are fully present, feeling your body, not leaving yourself and your experience in fantastical thoughts, a sort of alchemy happens. The problematic feelings transmute into more vitality, focus, and energy. Yoga and exercise classes are a great place to practice this.
Next time you are doing something physically challenging, notice your impulse to disassociate and think of other things. Stop yourself, come back into the moment, focus on your breath, your body, and movement. If the thoughts keep coming, keep refocusing on you and the moment. See what happens. See how this helps you keep up! Once you get good at doing this, you can practice doing it in stillness. You can practice what it’s like to stop or slow your thinking, be in your body, and see what arises from your experience. Adam teaches me to hang out in the “I don’t know.”
When I’m experiencing overwhelming thoughts, I do my best to slow down my internal speed, and I say to myself “My name is Sariah and I don’t know” very slowly.
The practice of slowing down and hanging out in the I Don’t Know helps me blank out my thoughts and feel my body and heart. It helps me stay with me in my experience. You can give it a try, it works.
I’ve noticed that if I choose less thinking, or being very mindful about what I’m choosing to focus on, squashing the negative ego rhetoric, I have more bandwidth for what I want to be doing. If I choose uplifting actions that give me energy and joy vs. depleting my resources. I can let fear-based decisions go and be more discerning about what I’m doing. Practicing these ways is HUGE for me, and something I’m in the process of workshopping with myself but these practices are working, and I’m changing, my life is changing.
So keeping up while choosing less is a thing, a helpful thing. Try it; let me know how it’s going for you. I also wholeheartedly recommend throwing on some Brittany Spears or Bruno Mars while you do it! ;)
If you want to check out Adam Gainsburg’s work, visit www.soulsign.com. His Open Human Heart work will change your life and teach you how to be masterfully human.