Do You Know When You Are Overdoing It?


Last night I taught a yoga class focusing on the Sanskrit word, Bramacharya, which translates into “energy management.” It seemed like a great class focus given we are in the middle of the holiday season where it is so very easy to get depleted because we are over-doing and over-giving. In other words, mismanaging our energy by spreading ourselves way too thin. And maybe even, for all the wrong reasons.

All in the name, by the way, of participating in the “most wonderful time of the year” as that old song goes. What a concept. Drain yourself in order to be part of the greatest season of the year. This alone should raise some red flags. But because so many of us have so wholeheartedly bought into the idea that to be with this season, we must overdo, we miss the fact that what we are doing is actually taking from us. Stealing from our vital and sacred well of deep energy reserves that our heart, mind and body depends upon to be balanced, clear and well.

Leaving many of us having a far less than wonderful time of year as we experience greater levels of burnout, anxiety, depression and overwhelm.

To remedy this is to shift away from participating in the overdoing paradigm which says how much we care is based on how much we do (or buy), to choosing to develop instead a relationship with our energy that feeds and honors its preciousness. A commitment that says, “I will take care of you because that is how important you are to me.” And if you doubt the importance of your energy, tune into the last time you didn’t have the energy you needed and how hard your life became. How hard it was to feel well, be patient, care and more.

How do we begin to make a shift like this? By paying attention moment to moment to how we feel as we move through our days making all of the choices we are making.

This might sound like a lot to do until you realize that we can break it down into one simple but profound question: Is this choice giving me energy or taking from my energy? Begin to use this wondering as a way to navigate through your day as you eat, do your errands, cook, watch something on the screen, converse with someone, talk to yourself, plus all of the other things you do as a matter of course without ever wondering how it is impacting your sense of aliveness and vitality.

Every single choice you make carries with it the power of feeling more energized or more depleted, and by simply paying attention to your energy levels in response to those choices, you are given a map for navigating an often draining array of choices in the world when it comes to what we are being offered. Choices that are often dressed up as something vital to us and what we need when actually the opposite is true. Like for instance the overdoing of all the sugary “treats” that leaves us bloated and gaining weight. Or how about all the over spending so characteristic of this time of year that leaves us anxious as to how we will pay for it all.

To come to know what is actually working for you, often means noticing what is not. It means taking stock, without judgment, after a choice has been made to see whether you feel better for it. Or worse. Just by charting whether you feel filled or depleted, you can use this vital information to shed some light on your tendencies to do more than is either necessary or good for you and your life-giving energy.