The Benefits of Down Days
A down day is when how we are feeling and what we need to be doing aren’t in alignment. Maybe we wake up with a list of chores, but or bodies and minds are tired and we simply can’t pluck ourselves up and out of bed. When was the last time you sank into the rhythm of a down day, without judging yourself or analyzing your productivity?
Today I had a down day. In the past, this would frighten me. I’d wake up late and immediately start the roll call – naming all the chores I’d missed and punishing myself for not showing up to “adult” on time. Then I’d spend the rest of the day in misery, blaming my late start for the shitty energy I felt and judging myself for not being able to stick to a healthy routine.
How silly is that?!
Now my mornings are delightful no matter what time I wake up and what state I’m in.
Even my bad days are good days. This is because I’ve learned to listen to the divine flow of life and appreciate the medicine in each mood and feeling.
So today, when I woke up 3 hours later than I normally do, I thanked my body for whatever healing I knew it was doing in those extra hours and I spent several more hours in bed catching up on a wonderful book I’d started months before.
I was lucky enough not to have anything planned for the day where my absence would effect other people; No clients or obligations like work or friends who needed me, and so I sunk in deep and really appreciated the down time.
Sure, I felt groggy and a little off kilter, but that is medicine just as a joyous and bubbly morning is.
When I felt ready, I sat up and stretched, practicing some gentle yin yoga poses right there among the pillows with my dog Butters. I then got up and started my day.
I found myself skipping breakfast. I even skipped the usual morning routine of washing dishes and tidying the kitchen. I didn’t light incense or meditate. Instead, I went for a walk and took myself for a coffee. I didn’t lecture myself or negotiate with myself on how much coffee I could have before it becomes an unhealthy habit. I just let myself be. I relished in every savoury moment of the day. And I appreciated my freedom to create from my heart.
I now find myself on the beach.
The old thoughts still arise – maybe I should make plans with a friend. Maybe I should go for a walk and burn off the breakie roll I had last day. Maybe I should do something productive.
I let the thoughts in and out without paying much notice. This is dramatically different from where I was last year. Those thoughts would be enough to set me on a course of action that would result in fatigue and self-loathing.
Today I’ve sat myself on the beach. I’m staring at the ocean. It’s whale season, and on the horizon I can see the telltale signs of these mysterious creatures. Splashes of water shoot up higher than boat sails, and I know the whales are way out there, consciously breathing, pulsing with the heart of the ocean.
I’m lost in nothingness on this beach. I’ve fully succumbed to my down day. It’s more nourishing than any kale salad, and more restful to my nervous system than any yoga class.
The whales come closer. I see their massive black backs dipping silently in and out of the water. They’re not jumping or splashing. They too seem to be relishing in a down day.
A pod of dolphins has silently turned up in front of me. No one on the beach seems to notice but me. Their gray backs poke out and turn into the waves so humbly. We normally only notice these creatures when they’re performing: When their energy is high and they’re flipping and tossing out of the water. When they’re being productive.
But today is a down day. And I have finally learned to embrace the restful meaning of this kind of day. And it seems Mother Nature is responding in kind.
Wishing you all the magic and awareness a down day has to offer. Release the need to analyze and obsess. Release the drive for productivity. When you wake up off kilter and out of routine, relish in your down day, for its medicine is nourishing, its energy is spiritually productive beyond measure. Your down day will give you the strength and inspiration for the uppiest of days yet to come.