Today I woke up to a sloggy day. My mind and body are unsynchronized. I want to do stuff, but also don’t want to do anything. I want to eat something, but also don’t. I’ve got things to do, and don’t want to do them. Nothing feels quite right. Everything feels like a slog to do it. This is a sloggy day.
And, sloggy days are such great training days. Our resistance is so high that we can use it all day long! And we can practice with even the most mundane things. It’s like it’s an equinox day – you know that tale that on the vernal equinox you can balance an egg standing up? Well, sloggy days are special days where suddenly, magically there is way more opportunity all around us to train in how to move through resistance.
Waking up into a sloggy day is like arriving at the gym and someone overnight, an overzealous and nefarious gym elf, added a zero to all the weights. What used to be a 10lb weight is now 100lbs, what was 5 lbs is now 50. How curious!
So, we get to scale back our expectations for the day in terms of what we might “get done”, but we can scale up, way up, our opportunity to practice and grow. Because now every little thing can be used in our favor. Things that yesterday presented no challenge are now opportunities to practice with.
If we manage to sit down, put our shoes on, and get out the door to the gym or walk outside – WOW! How much easier that will be tomorrow or next week when it’s not a sloggy day. We are now the type of person that can do this even on a sloggy day. That’s real strength.
If we can get to our meditation cushion, and sit for two minutes – fantastic! If we can manage to clean off the kitchen countertop, put the dishes in the dishwasher and move all the way through completing clearing up, even if it takes the entire day – wonderful! We are training in making this task so full of joy on non-sloggy days. Sloggyless days? 🙂
I remember a day, one of the sloggiest of all sloggy days, when I went into the kitchen, picked up a fork to put it in the dishwasher. Then I realized the dishwasher was full of dishes that needed to be put away before I could put the fork in. I stood with the fork raised a couple of inches off the counter, paralyzed with whether to move forward with putting it away which would involve emptying the dishwasher, or not. After a whole minute holding the fork standing still, my mind stopped, I just couldn’t summon the energy to get things put away, so I put the fork back down on the counter and retreated out of the kitchen. That’s a sloggy day! And that is still training. I did one rep with a fork, that in that moment was like a 200lb dumbbell, and I was spent.
Tips for working with Sloggy Days:
Here are some tips that I’ve found to be useful as I’ve developed my practice of working with sloggy days. It’s very much still a work in progress but here’s what I’ve got so far:
- Change your expectation for the day from getting things done, to working with resistance instead. We might still get the things we planned done, we might not. But it’s really useful to be able to give up our expectations of that, and instead realize that because this is a sloggy day, let’s change the focus from doing stuff, to practicing with resistance instead. It’s going to be a training day rather than race day.
- Gentleness. And kindness. This is key. I don’t subscribe to the “beatings will continue until morale improves” methodology that is common in our work-dominated culture. Really bring forth your gentleness and friendliness towards yourself. Give yourself plenty of time and space – you’ll probably need far more of both than on less sloggy days. And also kindness to ourselves includes some sense of being willing to return to the job at hand, because you’re worth it. The kindness of a parent helping a child.
- Curiosity. And humor. This really helps to bypass any feelings of shame for feeling this way and about things being harder today. Every time I come back from being distracted, or from some numbing out, I write in my journal “How Curious!”. Laughing at myself, in a friendly fashion, and being very curious about what’s going on, brings a lightness that can be a very helpful alternative to going down the rabbit hole of shame.
- Awareness on hyperdrive. Staying aware of what’s going on is key. And I’ve found I need to amp up my practice of this on sloggy days, because it’s really easy to fall into lethargy, or depression, or blaming myself, or numbing out with TV and food for the whole day. So I have a couple of techniques that help – one is that I light a candle on my work desk. This acts as an awareness beacon for me that reminds me – oh right, I’m training. If I get distracted, which happens easily on these sloggy days when our mind is less synchronized with our bodies, when I see the candle it acts as a visual clue to come back to where I am. The second awareness technique that I find very helpful on these days is frequent journaling. Just noting down the time, and writing “How Curious!” after I’ve come back from being distracted is helpful to return to mindfulness.
And then there are absolutely things we can do to help move us out of the sloggy space and into feeling better. If we are able to do them, there are any number of tools – we can do physical exercise, meditate, take a short nap, etc. But even to get to the cushion to meditate, or take out our pen and paper to journal, or get outside the door to walk can be a huge challenge on the sloggier days. So I’ve found this view of using the slog as the best free resistance training to be helpful.
The obstacle IS the path. And when we do bring it right into focus and train in walking straight through, my experience is that it’s often pretty sunny on the other side.