I’ve never been a napper until recently that is.
Growing up on our family farm, where daylight hours were spent outside, naps weren’t appealing. Except to my dad, who’d tell us he was just going to, ‘shut my eyes for a bit,’ right after eating lunch.
Naps used to seem like a colossal waste of time! What’s changed?
We could say it’s a sign of aging, though that seems an easy cop-out since I’m active, enjoy my work, and still enjoy being outside.
My fatigue – perhaps yours too – is likely linked to the stressed-out craziness that’s defined the past 5+ years. I’m referring to the mercurial politicizing and polarization that’s kept everyone’s emotions ratcheted up.
It’s a reasonable factor since our collective neurochemicals go haywire in attempts to keep us alert and ready to move into action.
Of course, it may also be acknowledging the tragic deaths of millions from COVID-19, feeling helpless in face of it, and acutely aware of the prospect of catching it (and passing it along) that’s worn me down.
Could be the backdrop of intense economic realities in COVID’s wake – unemployment, displacement, supply chain bottlenecks – OR – the Russian invasion of Ukraine – that’s revving up both real and existential anxieties further wearing me down.
All of these aforementioned factors may be influencing my desire to nap as of late, but I’m not convinced it’s any one of them.
My bet is that it’s because I’ve been intentionally sensing and feeling myself more.
Let me tell you what I mean.
Feel More, Not Less
I can tell you that it’s super easy – despite being intentional in noticing – to run right over what my body’s telling me! Yet those internal experiences are the very ones that let me know what it feels like to be alive.
We instinctively experience our life as a reflection of our energy.
Life speaks to us very directly through sensation, whether we pause to notice it or not. With low pressure and stress, we’ll often go about life quite easily, not noticing much about our energy levels at all. That is until we get sick, feel ‘off,’ or not quite myself – like my increasing draw to take an afternoon nap.
Feeling ourselves, in our bodies, is fundamental to being human—a crucial part of our natural intelligence.
To feel increases our conscious attention to our in-the-moment experience of life so we notice the energies of sensation, emotions, and mood—as they’re occurring, in the moment.
It’s the ability to direct our attention that’s the critical skill, especially for those who want to develop their capacity for conscious, generative leadership.
The bottom line?
Emotions are packets of energy that are always in motion. By feeling more, we open the door to being less reactively bound to old ways of coping, and more responsive to meet the moment.
Sensations, emotions, and energy levels tell us what we care about – and what we need.
If we think of energy as our stockpile of “get up and go,” our zest for the current moment, then it’s certain with obvious stressors – illness, loss of work, displacement, death – we’d expect our physical and emotional energies to be taxed.
Yet, it’s when we intentionally disconnect from our feeling self, as so many of us have been trained to do in our professional lives, that our natural energies can become further disconnected and our most heartfelt concerns go unaddressed.
Think of the community leader keen to improve children’s health who’s praised and rewarded at the office yet barely knows his own children. Or the environmental leader, who is deeply committed to mitigating environmental degradation, but turns the other way as managers overlook regulations.
Under intense pressure we push through, not listening to the subtle energetic shifts within and thus failing to recognize their power.
Our energies can become jammed up, literally armored within our body’s physical patterning and therefore inaccessible to us.
Directing attention to our physical sensations allows us to drop down out of our heads and come into direct contact with the energetic currents of our bodies.
By feeling more, we increase our capacity to handle a wider range of sensations and emotions. We start to see options and possibilities invisible to us amid a knee-jerk reaction.
The more we feel into our own energy in the form of sensations (pulsing, streaming, heat, tension, and lightness) and emotions (passion, resentment, joy, anger, grief, fear, indignation, or satisfaction), the more we’ll connect to the resourceful life energy constantly moving through us.
Today, there’s too much at stake today to shut off, ignore, devalue, or minimize the wisdom of our sensing, energetic-feeling selves.
Skillfully noting internal feeling states—in order to read our own internal energetic signals and respond to them appropriately—grows our emotional literacy, results in better decisions, and may lead you to the wisdom to catch a nap today!