A Healthy Step Back
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(Lose The Net by Rasmus Faber
Complements of Epidemic Sound)
Isn’t it amazing that good questions can lead us so naturally to good answers, and that truly beautiful questions can lead to even better questions? When we open ourselves to the things we don’t know, we open the doors to wonder and discovery and to greater understanding.
I’m Scott Lennox and you’re listening to The Beautiful Question, a weekly consideration of things that matter every day.
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Something quietly powerful happens when we step back from our overloaded schedules and focus on taking elegant care of ourselves as we unplug and unwind.
Join me this week as we consider ways of releasing ourselves from at least some of those pressures as we give ourselves the gifts of time and space and an easier breath. Stay with me. I think you’ll be glad you did.
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When I realized I’d been seeing counseling clients seven days a week since before the start of the pandemic (often ‘til ten at night), I knew a change was in order. I love being of service to other people, and I take great delight in the privilege of watching them turn their own lights back on and live in healthier ways, but it was past time for me to follow my own wise counsel.
There was no way around the fact that I needed to be more intentional about letting down and taking care of my own needs. After all, whose life is this and how can I best honor it and enjoy the gift of it?
[ plane engine sound fades in and swells ]
My time away allowed me to reconnect with good friends and do several things I’ve missed doing far too long. After more than thirty years away from the cockpit, I had the joy of flying for an hour or so with my friend Hiram Douglas. His wife Tara taught me to fly forty years ago. After taking off from the grass strip beside their house and hanger, we leveled off at about five hundred feet, and Hiram said, “You have the airplane.” I happily took the controls and was surprised at how quickly it all came back to me and how comfortable I felt. I even flew to nearby Granbury and made several passes over my youngest sister’s house beside the Brazos River. Things look so wonderfully different at thirty-five hundred feet.
[ brief pause as plane sound fades out
and trickling river sound fades in ]
Photo: Craig Rodgers
It had been just about that long since I’d been fly fishing, so I made time for that as well. Less than two hours after I flew over it, I was knee-deep in the Brazos River with a fly rod in my hands. It wasn’t long before I dropped into the peace and stillness I’ve always found there. And it was so good to watch the silent poetry of fly line suspended gracefully in the air as I put the fly exactly where I wanted it. The fish weren’t rising that evening, but I didn’t care. More than catching fish, my goal was to take on the river’s easy pace and slow myself down. I don’t have adequate words to express what happened as I surrendered to the silence. Who was it that wrote that some of our most important experiences are wordless ones?
[ river sound fades out and typing sounds fade in ]
During the week, I also spent many hours writing the follow-up to my unpublished first novel, The Flame Keeper. After more than a year of what I’ll call “less than fruitful” attempts to get the story moving again, something about intentionally relaxing and slowing down allowed it to re-open on its own, revealing things to me I hadn’t considered before. I make it a point to avoid speaking in clichés, but as I was writing, it honestly felt more like I was taking dictation from a quiet place in my mind than trying to make something happen. It seemed altogether effortless.
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I don’t share these things with you to bring attention to myself or to focus on what I did. While I’m happy to tell you about them, my point is to consider what organically takes place when we slow down and make a space for ourselves and for the good things life offers when we are open to them.
Stepping out of my usual routine for a few days allowed several things to organically change for the better. I relaxed physically, mentally, and emotionally. I was able to rest deeply. My sleep improved. My thoughts became clearer, and I felt generally happier (and still do). And as the week drew to a close, I noticed that I was feeling renewed and revitalized. I’m noticing now that as I reengage with my clients (and everyone else), I’m doing so from a fresher place and that I am more quietly and more gently focused.
You may believe me when I tell you that I’ll be taking many more breaks like that one and a series of shorter breaks along the way.
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It’s been repeatedly demonstrated that each time we allow ourselves to step out from under the pressures we carry, no matter how briefly, we’re giving ourselves the opportunity to heal and restore from the inside out. When we make a habit of depressurizing, the result is even deeper. That’s one of the benefits that comes with regular practice of things like yoga, prayer, meditation, or any other mindful activity that takes us into conscious stillness.
Recent studies indicate that the duration of time we spend engaged in such practices is not as significant as the frequency with which we engage in them. It’s not how long we stay there, it’s how often we go there. The more we do what meaningfully relaxes us and drops us into conscious neutral, the more actively our nervous and immune systems respond, the more we release physical tension, and the clearer our minds become. As that happens, we can thank ourselves that clarity and peace are self-bestowed.
It’s an inside-out thing, not the other way around.
So, this week, I’m wondering what might change for the better if you were to create a time of intentionally depressurized stillness just for yourself, several times a week or every day if you’re willing. I’m sure you can intuit the answers. Here’s a way to help you get there.
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This week’s three Beautiful Questions are designed to help you consider what you’re facing right now and what would best serve you as you step back from the pressures you’ve become accustomed to.
Question One: What stressors do you regularly experience and what toll are they taking on you?
Question Two: In what simple ways can you “step back” from some of those pressures, and how often and for how long?
Question Three: When and where will you put these healthy breaks into practice?
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After you’ve spent some time with these questions, I invite you to write and tell me where your considerations take you. I also look forward to hearing about the relief you’ll bring to yourself in the process.
As I say each week,
My Light with Your Light!
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As always, I’m glad we can engage in this way every week as we consider some of the things that matter and what to do about them. If nothing else, I hope you feel inspired to look more deeply at ways of caring for yourself. You deserve that. You’ve always deserved it.
You can be further inspired by visiting my friends at Kosmos Journal. That’s K O S M O S Journal. Their mission is to inform, inspire, and engage global transformation in harmony with all life. You can easily find them online at Kosmos Journal dot O R G.
And at thebeautifulquestion.com, you can read the illustrated transcript of each podcast as you listen. We’ve also included an archive of all previous podcasts, including guided relaxation audios that can help you practice letting go on a daily basis.
If you find these podcasts useful, I encourage you to share them and tell others about them. That’s a great way of helping me get a voice of calm and collaboration and balance and encouragement out into the world.
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I’m Scott Lennox, and this has been The Beautiful Question.
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The Beautiful Question is a One Light production, written, produced, and engineered by Scott Lennox at HeartRock Studios in Fort Worth, Texas, as a way of paying forward to life, being fully present, becoming better engaged with things that truly matter in a complex world, and committing to a healthier future for all of us.