What is procrastination? Is it truly that you are being lazy, unproductive, slovenly, a waste? Or, is it perhaps a much needed break, a respite, a time to catch your breath, akin to the necessity of sleep? Maybe it’s both: at one point it is laziness, at another, a true and much needed break. And, does it even really matter to know?
I come from a long line of A-type personalities, and here in the U.S., we live in an ego-driven, no-pain no-gain, “productive” society, and after winning my stage 3 battle with ovarian cancer in 2001, the PTSD from the experience perpetuated the drive to go and do and achieve and win (because, among many things, I needed time, lots and lots of time, before I had the strength and ability to face the fears and pain and loss I’d experienced). I’ve come to learn that this drive and constant push to accomplish can kill, literally, and at the least, cause anxiety, depression, physical pain, insomnia, among many other physical ailments.
Some time ago, I came across an article on Liminal Space. It was an enlightening article and something I had NEVER heard of before. Liminal is Latin and it means threshold. Liminal Space is a time of waiting, stopping, pausing, it’s a transition. Like a bend in the road where we have to slow down in order to make it through the turn safely, like the 8-hours of sleep our body’s need each night in order to repair, heal, and clear out the brain connections to make room for more, like the afternoon siesta that for centuries Europe and other countries have taken every day, the a doorway between rooms. The Liminal Space is a powerful place to be, to wait, wait with confident and intuitive expectation. It’s a space where the ego doesn’t exist and the path gradually becomes clearer as we watch, stop, and trust…. and sometimes wait some more. It’s pure potential, the border/threshold between possibilities, the place where anything is possible.
In the tangible/real world, when you are in this Liminal Space, it doesn’t mean that you do nothing, but it may. What’s so hard for our culture to grasp is that doing nothing is just as beneficial and important as doing something. Think if it this way: the earth needs a fall and winter season in order to make way for the spring and summer. Liminal Space is like the night to the day. The exhale to the inhale. We humans are part of the earth, made of the same materials, and we can take a big cue from her to find out best selves and live our best life.
As I see it, there are 2 large problems at play here: 1. we have been conditioned with 12+ years of schooling to think that there is only 1 right answer, that if we get the answer wrong, we are wrong, and that success equals action and being right, and 2. in the U.S., we have become so unaccustomed to being alone, with ourselves, in silence, stopping and pausing, that it’s so foreign, we “feel” bad about it. The good news is that feelings aren’t always true and when we practice slowing down, sitting with the uncomfortable, looking within ourselves, we can begin to flesh out our own and others’ feelings and move past them. Feelings of guilt and shame are big ones that can come into play as we slow down, feelings that we “aren’t doing enough.”
In yoga, there’s a Sanskrit term Aparigraha, it often translates to ‘non-greed’, ‘non-possessiveness’, and ‘non-attachment.’ We can take a cue from this centuries old practice and begin to live with a better relationship with ourselves, and the world around us as we become of aware of how we’ve attached to and become possessive of feelings, belief’s, making them into our identities, our personalities. We humans are so much more than just feelings, much more than a body, we are spirit: a holy ghost walking around in a meat suit. As such, we are mystical, mysterious, and ever changing. As we begin to slow down, release old attachments, we can make room for what the Divine has planned for us, becoming happy, healthy, and whole in the process. We can have faith.
Time is an illusion. The thing at the end of this earthly life is death. As we pause in the Liminal Space and “procrastinate”, we give ourselves time to “smell the roses,” noticing and becoming aware of the things we are holding on to, the stress, the tension, the lack of trust/faith, feelings, and we can let answers come when they are meant to, we can let new possibilities begin to form, dreams take shape and manifest, we can take a breather and heal. Good things take time, think aged cheese, fermented wine/beer, cigars, and when we give ourselves, and others, space and time, good things will follow. Some might call this procrastination, but whatever you want to call it, you’ll find me reveling in it as I pause to remember that I am whole, centered, and living in harmony with all of Creation, happy at all that has been, what is to come, and what is right now.
If this seems really difficult and/or you don’t know where to start when you stop and pause, try reading of of my Meditation blogs here or here and/or listen to my Yoga Nidra CD for some simple guided meditation practice. These are great ways to find that sacred space within.