A lot of my conversations of late have gone something like this.
I’m exhausted and too busy. I can’t catch a breath.
Why? What have you been doing?
Oh you know, the usual.
Well life in general – it’s just life isn’t it. I’ll feel much better when summer’s over/Christmas is out the way / kids are older / I’m out of this funk / we’re finished the extension /the world isn’t imploding in some way….
The thing is, you might.
You’re likely to feel much better when the next big thing is over. But you know what’ll happen? The very next big thing will come along and take up your time, alongside a load of other not quite so big things and smaller things too. Just like they always do.
We know we’re pushing ourselves a little too much. We know we’re running from one thing to the next. Many of us feel like we have too many commitments but we can’t drop them because they all feel too important and we can’t order them for priority.
We think we can survive with just that little bit (or a lot) less sleep than we actually need. We usually also think everyone else is doing it like that so why can’t we?
Only they’re not. They’re looking at you thinking the exact same thing. Wondering how you do it and keep it all together and hope that someone’s going to admit to the fact that you’re all trying just a little too hard and too much because they can’t. keep. up. either.
So why gentle living?
It’s part of the slow-living, unbusy revolution.
As a backlash to the achieve, do and master culture, and potentially to counter the always available and on-one at that, the idea of slowing things down, getting back to what you love doing, finding space and listening to your needs and energy more is really gathering pace.
We have digital detoxes available at, ironically, our fingertips and we can mostly sense amongst our peer and other groups that being busy is no longer a badge of honour to be bandied around with pride. The sense of relief you feel when a friend cancels at the last minute or a work meeting is moved is palpable and enough to tell you that you’re looking for space.
Indeed ‘not having anything specific to do’ or ‘white space’ has been fashioned into a sharable phrase that we can all tag on to.
Achieving what a need whilst making room for enjoyable things is essential to keep us ticking. So being gentle in the process is merely a way of saying we can achieve whilst keep ourselves in mind. And with that in mind we may change our idea of achievement.
Being gentle is a way of life rather than an achievement.
When we say to a toddler ‘be gentle’ with the dog’s tail, we’re asking them to act in a specific way in that moment. Yet when we as adults try to live with peace or balance or gentleness, we seem to ask it of ourselves (or others) as a constant.
I know which one feels like harder work.
Being a certain way for our whole lives takes effort, reflection and potential planning. It takes awareness of self and introspection and sometimes we don’t have time for that.
But it’s a guiding principle. It’s a way of life rather than an ‘I must always be’. It’s an acceptance of how we’d like to try to live and be with others, rather than a chastising where we feel or know it hasn’t happened. It’s a demonstration also to others that we’re living in this way. With a sense of peace and calm rather than pushing, or grabbing, just like the toddler with the tail.
Not unlike meditation practice. When I discovered this following sentence regarding formal meditation practice it changed how I felt about using meditation in my own daily life – it’s not about the outcome that you’re hoping or expecting to achieve, it’s the very practice itself that you’re looking to do. If we marry this to finding a gentle life we can say this – it’s not about being gentle all the time, rather working away each day in thoughts, actions, reactions, to bring a gentleness to everything we do.
This automatically feels more interesting, engaging and exciting as a way of being – I’m in it every day. Ok, maybe it also feels like that’s just one long slog to nowhere. But no, because each time you think of a thought, action or reaction that could be more gentle ta da, there is becomes – in your very reflection and acknowledgement of the fact.
What do you think? Do you think it’s a ‘journey’ (lest said of that actual word the better) or a destination.
Find out more about how the gentle life course works and how it might benefit you here.