The Importance of Down Time
*Yet another post culled from the draft bin. ^_^
Down time is precious. Sometimes, in the midst of life and wanting to do so much I can lose focus that down time is important. To take that moment to breathe, or an hour or better to relax, unwind is one of the best gifts I can give myself, and those around me. Heck, it can even be a gift to my Gods. It is hard to be mindful when you are moving from anxiety to anxiety or the next “What do I do now?” to “Oh crap, x or y is due soon.” Sometimes it comes down to just getting my time management to a point where I get the important, must-dos done. Some of it is breaking down what is important right now, what things can be put off to be done later, and what things have to be put off. Some of this is determining where I need to step back and say “This is my limit.” There is always a need for mindfulness, that the relationships I have, human, Divine, and otherwise, need upkeep and work.
There is a part to this that is not often commented on: the Gods, the spirits, and the Ancestors do have patience. This has been, perhaps as much as kindling deeper relationships with those I worship and ally with, a good deal of my learning experience. I am not supposed to get everything right now. I have living, breathing relationships with my Gods and spirits. In this, I have had to learn, if for nothing else than a kind of patient silence, that sometimes leaving me be is the best thing the Gods, spirits, and Ancestors can do for me. This forced downtime from direct, head-hitting spiritual dialogue and messages and such has pushed me to cultivate a deeper appreciation of the downtime given to me, and to silence. I imagine, at times, how much more hectic my life would be if I had as much spiritual activity hitting me from as many directions as I had a year or so ago. I would likely be very, very stressed in a time I can ill afford it.
This kind of forced spiritual downtime also means I am pushed to refocus on more mundane things, such as career and education, which, to me, are holy in their own right. It also has moved me into recognizing everyday situations where I can bring my spirituality closer to me. I prayed to my Ancestors during lunch breaks at work. I hailed landvaettir at the local college either by saying a short prayer or giving a small salute or something similar as I passed them. I teach my son and others to honor the Gods, spirits, and Ancestors as I can, and raise him with this path as best I can. I do nightly prayers, make offerings, and write poetry. I listen to people when they need help, and live in frith as best as I can. For every time I screw up, I try to do better. I’m not the best, not close, but I do as best I can.
Asking more than my best is not something I have heard from my Gods, Ancestors or spirits; that is something I have put on myself. I am not saying I should not strive to be better; quite the opposite. That said, expecting more than what I can give is foolish, and overtaxing myself with trying ‘do more’ or anxiety or guilt takes away from those things the Gods already have in front of me. I would not expect my son to read at a vastly higher level than he can. Would I want him to? Yes. However, that expectation is unrealistic, and if I put that on him, it may turn him off from reading entirely or just burn him out. So too, with my spiritual work. Sometimes the Gods are simply saying “you have enough on your plate” and I need to accept that.
Down time is precious in that it gives me time to get my head clear, something that I have needed sorely. It is precious in that it can make me more receptive of my Gods and more perceptive of my biases, internal dialogues, and when I am ‘clear’ versus ‘muddled’. It is precious in that when I have down time I can be more honest with myself, and with others, on where things stand. I might have once recoiled at the thought, but I now view down time as precious sleep that anyone with spiritual engagement needs. Stay awake for long enough, and you can go mad, or burn out, or simply just fall asleep and/or crash. I am pretty surly when I have little sleep, and am even more unpleasant when I have not eaten or had coffee. I am not much different with my spiritual work.