I had some pretty significant surgery last week. I’ve spent the days since recovering, and diligently following my doctor’s instructions. During this recovery, I’ve had periods of intense physical pain. I happen to be someone who withdraws into silence when in pain. I don’t cry out, or become difficult to those around me. Instead, I draw inward. The world has continued to race past me with its chaos during this time of healing, but I’ve gently turned away.
There was a moment last week that was almost mystical.
I had a moment I would love to share with you. I was quietly resting in bed, and the house was totally silent. The ceiling fan was slowly spinning overhead, creating a cool and gentle breeze. Outside, the sunshine was filtered by the sheer white drapes billowing in front of my bedroom windows. At that moment, I was pushing into my pain, instead of trying to deny it. I wasn’t ignoring my pain, I was accepting it, feeling its every nuance throughout my body. Suddenly, I was perfectly balanced–the quiet and calm of my external environment was weighted against the inner turmoil of my body–and I felt peace.
As I rested into that peace, I was suddenly flooded with thoughts of the hundreds of women, generations ago, who had spent time in the tuberculosis sanatoriums. That was an amazing time during our world’s history. Women all over the world were told that in order to survive, they had to remain perfectly at rest for a year or more. They faced severe limitations in movement, activity, and interaction. Men also had this type of treatment, but many sanatoriums were exclusively for women.
These women, many times, were not allowed to read.
They were not allowed to get out of bed. They were not allowed to exercise, cook or do anything else they had become used to on a day-to-day basis. Their entire existence was to rest in bed, and allow their bodies to heal.
During that moment last week, I understood how they managed that kind of unusual existence. Gently pushing into my pain, I connected to their ancient sisterhood.
I felt, during that moment, profound permission to give my body whatever time it needs to recover. I accepted that being still is going to be part of my healing, and patience will be necessary for my full recovery.
Our world today doesn’t understand this kind of therapy.
Can you imagine what would happen now if a doctor told us that in order to survive, we’d have to be still for a year? “I can’t!” we would say. “I have too many things I have to do! I have too many responsibilities!”.
Or–we’d refuse to listen. Instead, we’d demand anything besides just resting, because simply letting time take care of things doesn’t make much sense to our modern outlook.
In today’s world, most of our value comes through our accomplishments. Not our existence.
We aren’t valued for the traits we bring to the world–things like kindness, charity or honesty. We don’t get acknowledged as being someone who makes others feel important simply by spending time with them.
Instead, we are valued because of the things we do. Our worth is created because we’ve made a lot of money, or earned a certain degree, or been promoted to a specific job title.
Have you noticed? It’s not okay to be a mom, any longer. Now we have to be a perfect mom.
Just baking someone a birthday cake doesn’t work, anymore. Now we have to find something spectacular on Pinterest, because living up to that ideal is what’s expected.
And no one really has a job anymore, because we all have careers, remember?
Many of us, if told we had to be still for a year, would worry our identity would be lost, since we wouldn’t be ‘doing’ anything during that time frame.
Even though we would still exist, and we would still be ‘us’–most of us would worry about disappearing as a person, because of our inactivity.
Which is something I find to be profoundly sad.
The noise of the world, along with its twin–social media, constantly show us ways we are lacking.
Our insecurities breed every time we turn something on–a computer, a telephone, a television or radio–something electric. We click a switch of some type, and are instantly bombarded with messages telling us we are inferior.
We get the messages that we are too old, too heavy, too unaccomplished–too something-that-isn’t-good-enough. We’re faced with words and pictures that only make us compare ourselves to other people.
It’s rare we can walk away from these messages feeling good about ourselves.
The world’s messages demand movement, change, action–but I wonder if that’s always the answer?
I wonder if instead, the answer may be to become quieter?
To listen our own voice, instead of the voices of others?
To acknowledge our pain, and not try to medicate it away with prescriptions, food, shopping or whatever else we use as a distraction?
Just being is enough.
Listen closely: I’m giving you permission to just be, for a little bit.
You may rest here an hour, you may rest here a week.
You might stay home from work for a day or two, avoid electronics for a period of time, leave your phone in the car when you get home at night–whatever makes sense to you.
I challenge you to choose stillness.
Sit in silence, and allow yourself to hear the leaves rustling on the trees outside.
Turn off the electronics, and center your breathing to your heart beat.
Rest inside of the moment you’re in, and accept that ‘doing’ isn’t always the answer.
Many times, simply being is more important.
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**Chanler Jeffers has seen many extraordinary things over her lifetime. An adventurer, survivor, overachiever and advocate of kindness in all instances, she has been awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the American Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE), and is a member of their Circle of Champions. She has had the good fortune to live and travel all over the world, grew up as a military dependent and was a single parent for many years. She has survived cancer, and gently shaped countless people over her years on this little planet we call home. Follow along as she shares her knowledge, her experience and her love. Oh, by the way–one more thing. She’s married to a Bass playing rock star, lucky girl.
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