Ending my focus on constantly doing
by Bianca Barban
Have you ever considered that as a woman you might be addicted to doing? For myself the realisation that my life was focused on constantly doing occurred 11 years ago when I was given a big wakeup call. My body, which had normally been healthy and robust began to speak very loudly. Its language was in the form of multiple bouts of upper respiratory infections, ear infections, intense tiredness, overwhelm and a constant feeling of being dissatisfied. Up until that point, my life on the surface looked very successful on a functional level but I was always pushing, always giving myself to everyone and their needs, overriding how I felt and making life about the attainment of a perfect picture, culminating in a striving for perfection that was never satiated.
My focus on always doing meant that when I was moving throughout my day, there was separation from my body. I was like a walking head. I was caught up in my thoughts, songs playing on repeat in my mind or ruminating over conversations I had and how they could have been different. This disconnection from the body meant it was very easy for me to be in disregard, to be racy, to push through and drive myself to get everything done so it looked great on the surface, but I felt empty because there was no connection. I had to bolster myself by going into a false sense of satisfaction that I had gotten so much done.
The absolute grace that this 12-month period offered through the experience of multiple episodes of physical illness was that I had to STOP! I was absolutely floored by how often I got sick throughout that year, even though we could say they were ‘minor’ illness’, the consistency in which I was sick was debilitating. It woke me up! I could not continue with my obsession for doing and I had to get very real about how I was treating myself and the affect this was having not only on my life but that of my husband, 2 children and others around me.
In my willingness to not fight the humbling my body was offering I began to get very real about the focus I had brought to external achievement and was awakened by the realisation that I could no longer function the way I had been going and that I needed to start looking after myself. This was not a token gesture to self-care but a real and loving response that brought a new level of consideration for myself that was based on the understanding that I spent every moment of my day in my body, and that while I could escape into my head and disregard what my body felt and needed the “gig was up” and my body was now saying “no more!”
This changed my life.
Looking as an outsider, people saw a massive change to my diet, what I drank, the way I exercised, my sleep patterns and that I was now saying no to behaviours that I used in the past as a source of relief and distraction from the intense way I had been “doing” life. In saying no, I was actually saying yes – a YES that was about truly supporting myself and not dismissing how I felt. I lost weight, felt more vital, started having quality sleep for the first time in my life and was stable in my emotions. In the past, my husband would have said I was hot blooded, quick to react and go into protection but with the loving choices I was making I was not as tense as I had been, I felt calmer and more relaxed and I was actually way more open and real with people. I remained fully part of life, I didn’t give up and withdraw but I kept completing all that needed to be done and I learnt how to do this by not leaving myself behind. I re-learnt how to move with connection.
During this 11-year period my willingness to be a student of how to support myself and my body has kept expanding and with each day this gets more refined. In the saying YES to truly looking after myself, I have found an enormous amount of awareness comes from within, when we allow the mind and body to move in connection throughout the day. This withinness is our inner-most core, a place of vast wisdom and knowing. When connected to, we return to a depth of stillness that was there from the moment we were born, but often gets forgotten as we get older and become more focused on making life about being engaged with what we do and what we can achieve.
This inner-most part of ourselves calls for an honouring of the absolute preciousness and pure love we all innately are. Through this connection I have learnt to bring quality to my movements so when I am doing all that needs to be done, I am completing the task with a quality of connection that means I don’t feel rushed inside or abrasive in my movements. In contrast to how I once lived, I feel present with my body and in this presence the quality of inner stillness grows and becomes the foundation on which I move from throughout my day.
The availability of this quality of stillness to be part of my movements has kept deepening and does not require perfection. I have found once you re-connect to it, you fall in love with the settlement stillness brings, it baths you in a holding quality that supports you to feel strong and capable yet equally honouring and not dismissive of the body or the fact that there are always many tasks to complete in a day. The deep wisdom that stillness brings teaches women that we are more than what we do. From the stillness we learn, who we are and that what we offer everyone in our lives comes not from what we do for them. In fact, our greatest support is bringing this inner quality to our movements, so it is present for all to see and feel. In this quality of stillness, people are offered an opportunity to stop and feel their own connection to their inner-most being and build their own awareness of how they have been moving and what they are bringing focus to in their life. In this connection to stillness, women learn to not be identified by an external ideal that will forever leave us wanting to prove we are enough. To live with a connection to stillness reminds us we are the complete package, in fact, the fullness of this completeness was there from the moment we were born. This is where a woman’s worth truly comes from, not from the identification and recognition, we receive from doing.
The past 11-years have offered me the greatest learnings of my life thus far. I have let go of so much that wasn’t supporting me and have honestly felt like I pulled myself out of a deep hole created by an unyielding matrix of ideals and beliefs that pervade life and constantly inform us who and how we should be. The learning has been rocky at times and in my face, especially when I have seen how identified I had been with external recognition. There has been no perfection, simply the willingness to re-learn how to support myself. The resultant awareness and understanding that has come because of this has been very healing. What I have learnt is that with awareness you are offered observation and understanding therefore you cannot judge yourself for what has been. Throughout my life, I had lost connection from knowing myself from the inside first, creating a void that needed to be filled. I filled this longing to know who I was by throwing myself fully into doing as a form of seeking identification. It became addictive and if it wasn’t for the STOP offered by my body, I would be in a very different state today.
The grace offered by the absolute honesty of the body and the willingness to keep saying yes to awareness means we open ourselves up to learning about life from a relationship with our inner-most self. From this relationship we re-learn to bring our inner-most core out into the world. In this willingness to embrace awareness and the learning it offers, we can return to the vast wisdom of our inner knowing that only offers truth, stillness, absolute love, harmony and joy and by allowing these qualities to inform how we move we bring an abundance of support for all. From this foundation our inner-most being becomes the leading quality in our lives and we can break free of being subservient to the way the world dictates women are to be.