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Time to shake off the dust

In times of great stress and unpredictability, it’s good to have an outlet for your negative energy. We’re all dealing the pandemic and the war between Russia and Ukraine in different ways, with widely different results. As someone who spends hours researching and writing, I pretty much live in my study. So what’s the best way to recharge our batteries?

I asked that question to colleagues and recycling entrepreneurs in my network. Answers ranged from taking hikes with the family dog and cooking a favourite meal, to creative pursuits like photography, singing, dancing, painting and writing a diary (with a hot cup of tea), to fitness and yoga. Personally, I take comfort in the last two activities. It helps me to get out of my head and ‘get back into’ my body.

I imagine I’m not the only one spending evenings at the gym. So much of what we do goes through a critical filter of ‘what ifs’. We’re constantly weighing our options, anticipating what will happen next. It’s a relief to let go and claim the moment with all you’ve got. Not that it is easy to drown out the noise. Trust me, it takes practice.

A couple minutes in, once you start to sweat and your muscles begin to feel the burn, you won’t be so easily distracted. You can’t afford to be. During my body pump sessions, I focus on the weights on my bar, on my posture, on the momentum of my movements. Every squat and lift has to be in synch with the music and the others.

With yoga, I change quickly into complex positions in harmony with my deep and conscious breathing. I try to go a little deeper or higher each time and am proud every time I check my progress in the mirror.

It may look easy – but it’s an intense workout that challenges your stamina (Yin yoga requires you to hold poses for over five minutes) as well as your sense of balance and coordination. And don’t be fooled by positions that aren’t technically difficult to do. They are meant to increase flexibility by providing stretch in your muscles and ligaments. In other words, aches in unfamiliar places.

Still, the pay-off is worth it! I feel stronger and more in touch with myself than I ever have. More in control. More stable. Not that I felt weak before; I was always a hiker and grew up doing karate (my father ran his own karate school back in our home town). I started training at the age of six and ultimately hung up my brown belt once I started high school because I was ‘busy with more important things’.

After that, my interests changed. I took my art seriously (I’ve been drawing and writing for as long as I can remember) and even applied to art school to study graphic design. I almost made the cut but didn’t get through to the final 100 candidates. Looking back, even though my teenage ego was badly hurt back then, I’m glad I ended up pursuing my love for language. I can express myself better with words.

In a sentimental mood, I bought a set of special markers and pencils during lockdown. I’ve been meaning to brush up on my sketching skills for years (I used to love drawing portraits). Suddenly I had a lot more time on my hands and no excuses for stalling. It was exciting to start up again.

I’ll say this, though: being a perfectionist can be exhausting. Especially if you have an office job. Little inspiration comes from sitting at a desk the whole day. These last few months, I’ve missed the conferences, trade shows and company visits. I’m grateful to see my calendar getting full again. Maybe I’ll see you in Las Vegas, where our team will be attending the ISRI convention!

The point I’m trying to make is that the bridge between body and soul is so very important. We have to keep moving, growing, learning, or we’ll get stuck. That’s not a good (or healthy) place to be.

So if you ever find yourself getting stuck, remember what the impact of variety can be. Whether you find that new surge of energy through dance, fitness or perhaps creating scrap art. As long as it feels genuine and empowering to you.

An example of this is an elderly lady who, despite blindness, joins my yoga class at least three times a week. I noticed her red-and-white cane and recently mustered the courage to ask about her circumstances. It turns out she was involved in a car accident years ago and had to learn how to walk from scratch. She may have lost her eyesight but not her willpower.

For me, it seems I’ve come full circle. I’ve reconnected with myself. Got that spark back. Shaken off the dust. If I can do it, so can you. You’ll see.

Namaste.

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