I came across this concept at an excellent workshop led by Vidyamala Burch who founded and leads Breathworks, which is a Mindfulness training organisation specialising in healing pain and illness. Vidyamala will be speaking at our conference next year, for more details please click here.
The concept of over-efforting, as I understand it, is that due to our lack of Mindfulness in daily life we habitually put too much tension and effort into daily life activities. Clearly, if we are suffering from chronic pain or illness conserving our energy can help us get through our daily lives with more ease.
But this teaching is of use to all of us, in the midst of our often complex, busy & exhausting lives.
I notice this when I fill up the kettle mindlessly. I yank it up, stride over to the sink, yank the tap on at full pelt – to fill the kettle as fast as possible – then stride back and heavily plonk the kettle back on to its stand. Then smash the switch on!
When I fill the kettle mindfully, the process is much calmer, slower and gentler. It is done with a more relaxed body and expends much less energy. A much pleasanter experience!
This week I am feeling quite triggered by a couple of problems. As is my usual pattern, I find myself ruminating under the expectation that I can find a solution.
Intellectually, I know that this is a complete waste of time, as I don’t have all the information and because most of the myriad of causes and conditions giving rise to this problem are way beyond my control. Ruminating is maintaining the fiction that I do have some control and so eases my discomfort with uncertainty.
With this rumination, I notice tension in my jaw & shoulders and significant over-efforting – my poor kettle!
When I notice the rumination, I bring myself back to the present moment, but the habit is too strong and like a moth to a flame I am drawn back into a spiral of rumination, which is taking the joy & ease out of my day.
The human mind – what a ramshackle, dysfunctional operating system to be burdened with. We all have these settings, we did not choose them, that is how the human mind is. As Rob Nairn often reminds us – the human condition is not one of perfection! So we can let ourselves off the hook – not beat ourselves up and give ourselves some self-kindness and compassion!
So what to do – I know this problem won’t last and that tomorrow or next week all will be different. I reset my motivation to be present in my practice and in daily life. I reflect on all the benefits that come from my practice. Then I just keep going – continuing to instill a new habit of presence into this mind of mine and to continue to take my focus and energy out of the habit of rumination.
And because the rumination is making me feel a bit miserable, a few times a day I deliberately focus on appreciating all the good things in my life and reflect on how grateful I am for them – cultivating joy. There is a lot of energy in joy that can help us to keep going with our practice of being present.
So, what are you ruminating about & how is this effecting your kettle!
Heather Regan Addis