“Letting go, of course, is a scary enterprise for those of us who believe that the world revolves only because it has a handle on the top of it which we personally turn, and that if we were to drop this handle for even a moment, well– that would be the end of the universe. But try dropping it. Watch what happens. Life continues on.” -Elizabeth Gilbert
This is the week of the whirling dervish Marissa. As preparations commence for my participation in The Napa Music Festival, I find every second of my day scheduled as I struggle to be musically, physically, and mentally prepared for the task ahead. Lists have been made, practice CDs have been drilling themselves into my brain during my daily commutes and in my earbuds, and I’m scrambling to put my everyday life on hold for 25 days. Riding an adrenaline high, I’ve been amazingly productive over just a few days, but sometimes even whirling dervishes need to be thrown out of whirl. (See what I did there? Julie Andrews would be proud.) It’s times like these that I am greatful for my yoga and meditation practice. I remember back to a time when my life was always lived in this state of constant agitation and anxiety and am surprised that I ever survived it. Too amped up to sleep, too nauseous to eat, too franetic to sit still, I lived the first 24 years of my life in a perpetual panicked fight-or-flight mode. While I still find myself toppling off my center with my mind racing out of control in pre-performances and high stress situations, I now know how to deal with that energy. I can channel that energy and put it to good use without allowing the adrenaline to control me. When we use that energy rather than keep it bottled up inside us, it enhances our performances, it allows us to make great progress and extreme focus in a short period of time, and it helps us to react quickly to new situations and experiences. But, if we can’t find the off switch and allow the body to simmer down when that heightened state is no longer necessary, burn out will ensue.
Sometimes all it takes is a focused breath, a shift of awareness, a softening of the shoulders, and a closing of the eyes to remind the body that we are safe and everything is going to be ok. Sometimes it takes working up a sweat on the yoga mat for two hours or hanging out upside down in an inversion for awhile. Sometimes it’s a hot bath and a glass of wine. Sometimes it takes a full day at the beach, staring at the waves and contemplating how cool it is simply to be alive. Whatever your off switch is, use it. Use it often. Soften the frayed edges and let yourself regroup. Take a breath, then get back to work. Your body and your mind will thank you.