Stop The “Shoulds!”

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Imagine you’ve come to one of those crossroads in the day when you’re not sure exactly what to do with yourself. I should go for a walk. I should eat something. I should clean the house. Stop the “shoulds” for a moment.

Try listening to your body without imposing any ideas on it. Sit and listen: What physical urges are being held at bay in your body? For example, what sounds would come out if you let them? You might be surprised. Would you scream? Would you roar? Try breathing a couple of big sighs, using your voice. Let each one become longer and freer, until you feel the sounds are coming from the deepest part of you. Don’t judge what you’re doing or how it sounds—simply let it out.

Now sit quietly and feel your weight in your muscles and limbs. What position would your body assume if you let it? Would you flop on the ground? Would you curl up in a ball? Would you jump up and down? Maybe your eyes would close if you didn’t hold them open. Maybe you’d feel like turning off the lights and sitting in the dark. Maybe you’d climb into a cool bath, or just take off all your clothes and dance in front of the mirror, pretending to be a rock star. Why not go with it? Let your body express what it wants to express.

Try this once a day, until you find yourself responding to situations more spontaneously without having to tell yourself to.

When it comes to living in the body, the need to honor the body’s cycles exists side by side with the imperative to honor the moment. After all, spontaneity is where the fun, the richness, the intensity of life come from.

Having a healthy routine in place is important, but equally important are those sudden poetic impulses that make you unique. If that means a detour from routine, fine. There are mornings to skip the gym and sleep in late with your husband. There are chocolate cakes too good to pass up. Give yourself the freedom to live in the moment. Some days, the routine can wait—because life won’t.

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