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Can You Cocoon? The Challenge and Power of Taking a Rest

(photo via Suzanne Rico, Pinterest)

The fallow field.  9 months in the womb.  Athlete’s down days.  Summer vacation. 

Rest, inactivity, turning inward, solitude : in the big picture they are just as important as the more active “doing” parts of whatever you are cooking, growing or becoming.  When we decompress we open ourselves to new insight, creativity and motivation.

In the online entrepreneur world, many of us know the importance of unplugging, leaving the home office, and turning our attention away from our businesses back toward our offline lives. 

Yes, of course, it makes sense.  But do you actually do it?  How well do you take rest?

It can be hard to build in breaks, but the longer I work in this space the more I see how essential it is.  I imagine most of you agree, whether you’re online for work or for play.  There’s an addictive element here. 

But there’s another key to taking restorative time that replenishes you, and that’s your inner dialogue and attitude.  Are you on your own team?  Or are you fighting the cocoon?

 

Warning signs

This winter, I was stretched pretty thin.  I was solo-parenting two young children and growing my business in creative new ways at the same time.  It started out okay, ideas flowing and innovative ventures being planned and executed on the one hand, calm and joyful home life on the other.  I asked for help when I needed it, practiced self-care and managed my energy.

I rode the wave for awhile, but soon it became clear that something had changed and I was losing steam.  And then my mojo went from a steady stream to an intermittent drip.

Clues?  Taking 3 days to write one blog post.  Aimless late night wandering down social media rabbit holes.  Envying my colleagues and making myself less-than.  Frustration with my kids at things that aren’t normally frustrating.  A turning away from the present moment and from the practices that enable me to dwell there. 

It was time for a time-out.  A call to cocoon.

 

Permission to enter

It’s not easy to halt mid-stream and change course.  I know this.  But I also know the danger of continuing on as if nothing has changed; the result is uninspired work, weak connections with others and a pervasive sense of dissatisfaction with the world around me.  A numbing vagueness.  Or worse. 

For me, the doorway to the cocoon is challenging to get past, but once inside I find myself deliciously at home.  I can exhale.  Wander.  Dream.  Disconnect. It’s pure relief to be fully, 100% inside.

Opening that doorway is done through conscious intention and self-love.  The first step is recognizing the door, and inviting myself to open it.  Then giving myself permission to enter.  This is an act of kindness, a choice to be gentle with myself.  Do I work to cultivate this?  Oh yes.  Each and every time.

 

What’s it like in there?

When I’m cocooning I do much less than is typical in my busy life.  I choose engagement very carefully, and say no a lot more.  I focus on being present with what is, not what might be in the future.  I give myself a hall pass and allow myself time for daydreaming and naps along with client calls and admin.

My mantra while inside is something like “I’m doing the best I can with what I have right now”.  I know not to expect epiphanies or great work.  This is a time for being okay with a bar set much lower than its usual height.

Here’s where the danger sets in: my inner critic can let loose with arguments about failure, laziness and lack.  There are days when the argument goes in her favor, and I despair that I am on the road to destruction.  I don’t leave my cocoon on those days, but it’s much less comfortable.  It’s often a challenge to stay my course. 

But the cocoon is sacred ground, and my wise self knows that it’s a necessary waystation on my journey.  When I nestle into its depths, I feel myself slowly gaining strength.  Gradually, I re-tap into my creativity, and reawaken my sense of purpose.  I come back to myself.    

And then there comes the time when I’ve outgrown this particular cocoon, and I emerge.  I’m different than I was when I went in; I’ve gained clarity, made peace with myself and refueled for the adventure ahead.  I exchange overwhelm and exhaustion for a new perspective.

 

What about you?  How willingly do you cocoon?  What obstacles are in your way to allowing yourself this downtime?  What do you gain by disconnecting for awhile?

 

 

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