I notice in myself a sense of rushing - a sense of having so much to do and not enough time to do it. When this happens, my free time becomes either work time or crash time. In these spaces, I notice I'm not breathing or am breathing shallowly, and I know that's not helpful, that it is adding to the dysregulation in myself and others. However, that awareness alone isn't enough to combat the hurriedness that overcomes me at times. And so perhaps just breathing alone, just focusing on shifting my breath isn't enough.
- How do I want to spend my time in this life? (Or as Mary Oliver so eloquently puts is: "what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?")
- What people and things are my biggest priorities?
- What trade-offs am I willing to make to be able to prioritize those people and things?
- What do I want my life to look like in ten years, five years, one year, and next week?
- What do I want to commit to knowing doing so means I am saying "no" to something else?
As we make these choices, or non-choices (which are really the same thing), we may consider that the answers to these questions may shift over time. With this recognition, we may choose to reflect on these questions regularly from time to time, allowing us to refine, clarify, and adjust our priorities and/or recommit to priorities that still resonate.
In his book "Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less", Greg McKeown recommends getting clear on our main priority and focusing our energy on that, versus dividing our energy among many different tasks that may or may not align with our main priority. His book was mostly focused on prioritizing our work, addressing one main domain in our life. So perhaps we can take what we learn from him and apply it to different domains of our lives - maybe identifying one main priority for work, one for relationships, and one for self. Something I find useful is to journal on priorities in each of those domains, noticing key words, and then refining them into a person mission statement and maybe even a vision statement. For me, creating this clarity helps me prioritize those things I identify as essential and say "no" to things that aren't, making it easier to accept the trade-offs.
I notice when I am living in greater alignment with my priorities, when I am living in alignment with who and how I want to be, I feel less rushed. It is easier to be present and focus on what the moment brings. It makes it easier to breathe, to take it all in, and to regulate. So that maybe, just maybe, difficulty connecting with the breath is about too much stress from not prioritizing our life. In the words of McKeown, "If you don't prioritize your life, someone else will". So the question is, what do you plan to do with this wild and precious life?