Doing Less, Being More
A cue for life and writing from Anne Lamott's "The Sacrament of Plop"
It was my favorite day of the week. My weekly day of rest. A day I’ve termed Self-love Sunday.
This is the day I set aside to intentionally take time off — from work, from plans, from to-do lists and obligations. It’s a day to plop, in whatever way I choose, and give rest to my body and soul. I try to spend the full day, sun up to sun-down, asking myself ‘What do you need?’ These Sundays are often unique, sometimes I create a day of play with my pup and sometimes I spend a morning at the local soak-and-sauna oasis with fellow self-lovers.
But often, I spend this day doing nothing… Sitting. Sensing. Feeling. Integrating.
Best-selling author and writing teacher Anne Lamott insists we have days, many of them, just like this. She calls it "The Divine Sacrament of Plop" — the act of sitting, resting, and committing to slowing down.
At this fall’s Emerging Women Live event in San Francisco, Anne urged a room of influential women to “insist on the right to waste more time” and “stare off into space.”
This is how it happens, she said, how we “figure this life out” — which is, according to her, what we’re all here to do.
During my own self-love Sundays, filled with plenty of plopping, I’ve come upon powerful realizations amongst the sweetness of rest. My most recent self-love Sunday was just this, and just what I needed.
With a cup of tea in hand, a window nook filled with plush pillows and cushions cradling my body, and a fuzzy dog warming my toes, I was able to soften my hard shell of a self and surrender into the stillness within.
I stopped — doing anything — and looked out a big bay window at the towering trees, noticing an apple variety definitely aged more than 100 years, rising taller than my upper-story window, ripe with red fruit.
I felt the warm richness of a woven blanket covering my calves, noticing the softness and gentle connection on my skin.
I tasted the steaming liquid, recognizing the cream, the sugar, the hint of bitterness in the tea leaves, and acknowledged how all three stirred together created the most perfect cup, and most perfect metaphor, for me.
I heard Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” begin to play, the enrapturing heavenly cadence piercing through the last bit of self I thought was still on and I entered a memory full of pain and rawness and unavoidable feeling, which I then realized was a gift, a reminder of my own aliveness.
I acknowledged the place inside that hasn’t yet processed the loss of many friends, a lover, and a pet. I felt their energy rising to the surface. A tear dropped, and then another. For them. For me. I had the knowing it will take many moments of stillness and sensation for my mind catch up with what all my heart already knows.
For some, rest comes easy. For me, it’s effort, at least initially. But by continually creating more moments of less doing, and more being, I’m able to recognize the divine pleasures being gifted to us, at all times, and the unending waves of knowing. If only I still enough to notice.
- Plop. Stop doing and just be, right where you are if you can. (If you need to schedule your time for plop, that’s ok.)
- Set the scene. Surround yourself with pleasurable things unique to you – candles, incense, fuzzy pillows or furry friends – and savor their gifts.
- Notice what you notice. What do you see, smell, taste, sense, and hear. What beauty is within these experiences.
- Feel. Let the emotions move within you and recognize what is present. What comes up? What is ready to be released? What needs more time, or more intention, or more compassion?
- Write. From a place of loving observation, put pen to paper (or fingers to keys) and give birth to the beautiful knowings within.
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“Whenever you’re in doubt: Pause. Take a moment. Look at your options. Check your intentions. And Then? And then take the high road.” ~ Maria Shriver