“0 to 100”, we hear this phrase all the time, for some it might even be a catch phrase. But, for whatever reason we never speak of going from 100 to 0. And, maybe that’s because it might have a negative connotation, associated with laziness or doing nothing. Well, you heard it here first, I’m introducing the phrase: I had the craziest 24 hours, I went from 100 to 0 in the snap of a finger.
On April 17th, I finished my last day of a four-month internship at an advertising agency in Manhattan. Living and working in Manhattan is fast, work is expected to be finished fast, everyone walks fast, you need to think fast, most people even end up talking fast. As someone who loves to pack everything in and knowing I only had 4 months in this amazing city, I made the most of my time and was exceptionally fast those four months. And, I loved every minute of it.
On April 18th I was on the outskirts of a remote village in the mountains of Portugal at Vale de Moses, a rustic yoga retreat. I suddenly had to try to breath, take a moment to myself, even reflect. I was terrified. After so many months of not having to look introspectively once because I was so busy doing everything else, I was now committed to a whole week of being introspective.
Each morning we spent in silence as we had our tea and nuts, then went on a half hour meditative walk. We had four hours or more of free time a day, with nothing scheduled, nothing planned. These were the moments I was most afraid of. On the first morning, I spent the meditative walk planning what I could do during free time, configuring the hours in my head to ensure that I wouldn’t have to be bored for even a second.
At meal times, when all us guests sat together and ate family-style, I felt panicked listening to everyone else’s profound stories and thoughts. They inspired me, for sure, but also made me feel like I was a phony. I was there because my sister wanted to go, I figured I like yoga and thought a week in Portugal sounded pretty sweet. I didn’t have a profound life change, career iteration, tragedy or inspiration that drove me to seek out Vale de Moses and I was rolling in after 4 months of going at 100, without hardly giving a single thought to what I was about to walk into.
As the week went on, I began to feel I was participating in meditation to some extent. I was by no means meditating, but I could listen to the meditation instruction and my thoughts were only wandering occasionally. The beginning of free time continued to give me anxiety, yet I frequently surprised myself, enjoying sitting and reading by the fireplace or chatting idly with the other guests.
I could not sit here and pretend that I became a new person in a week, but I did learn that I can slow down and I might just enjoy it. I loved my time in Manhattan, eating out, going to events, working long hours, hitting the gym – the routine and the pace excited me. But, I was going to burn out, it was only a matter of time and I’m so grateful that I went from 100 to 0 in this instance because I also loved my week at Vale de Moses. I think a week of yoga, meditation and free, unplanned, quiet time can be absolutely terrifying, but it is also necessary for many of us who live the fast and furious lifestyle that is so eminent in our world today. I extend the offer, or maybe challenge, to consider the chance to take a break and slow down, not for half an hour before bed with Netflix, but to really turn introspective for a couple days. As I sit here preaching, I will not pretend that I was all successful (if you can quantify this kind of thing as successful or not) at slowing down and being introspective, but I tried and succeeded in doing some of what I probably needed most.