Let's face it, women today are tired.
I coach busy women, and this is what they tell me all the time:
"I spent years getting educated and now I don't have any energy to work."
Or "I love my work, but my kids keep getting sick and so I show up to my job and can't even remember what I'm doing."
This story of exhaustion is real and we could say it's simply an effect of modern life and leave it at that. But I sense there's more meat to this story. I believe women can re-write the story of their exhaustion and it starts with telling a new story from a new place.
Do I want women to lie about being tired? Well, actually, I see it more like the need to shed. If we're going to bring peace and tranquility back to our lives -- and to the world -- we've got to shed ourselves of what keep us so tired. And that starts with our mind.
Our minds are useful tools that give us many gifts, but there's this other dimension that goes beyond the mind and it's urgent women begin tapping into this place. Why? Because no matter how many gadgets you use to measure the number of hours you're sleeping or how well you think you know your exhaustion identifying with this story is ultimately draining and won't make you feel whole, ecstatic and ultimately fulfilled.
Counting the number of hours you're sleeping at night -- telling yourself the story that you're just not a good sleeper or just not the kind of person who can get in eight hours of sleep every night -- is thinking that is done through ego-mind, and this is exactly what separates us from oneness.
People think ego-mind will free them -- counting those hours of sleep -- but most people who are counting the number of hours they sleep are not living fulfilled lives.
I'm not shaming science -- the research that tells us we should be getting a certain number of hours of sleep is often based on solid facts -- but instead I'm urging women to be cautious how we use it. Sleep deprivation is only an ingredient in your soup. It's urgent that we reveal the full recipe.
It's urgent that we teach women to tell the full story of exhaustion... to shake off this one-sided karmic drain.
It's time to stop reinforcing separation. No wonder women are so exhausted. Telling one side of the story throws us out of balance. In scientific terms we've lost the balance between the parasympathetic and sympathetic branches of our nervous system. In human potential terms, we've stop looking for our gold.
The story of exhaustion in women today keeps us stuck in a narrative that has taken us away from feeling wildly alive.
What if instead of being goal oriented -- looking for those perfect precious hours of sleep -- we searched for our gold? This is the story we must start writing. With technology extending our days and gadgets to tell us that we're not measuring up all here to stay, women need to take back the narrative on exhaustion and focus on our gold -- that place where were wildly ourselves and creative. This is the only way woman leaders -- and especially mothers -- of the 21st century are going to survive.
I remember a time when I was a young community organizer and all my mentors were exhausted bright women stuck in what I termed "the story of yuck." They were doing brilliant work, yet their stories were all the same: high output, but exhausted in mind, body, and spirit. Most were divorced, or not in healthy relationships. Nobody seemed to care or notice that deep down they were personally miserable.
Historically women's exhaustion story hasn't been much better. Exhausted women tended to go "mad" and take to our beds as a way to check out.
Today with so many creative forms of communication and the rise in popularity of mindfulness-based tools women have an opportunity to use our voices to change the story of exhaustion to one where we're fully checked in. We no longer have to hold on to the shame of exhaustion or identify ourselves as "exhausted all the time."
So how do we tell a different story? I suggest it starts with cultivating awareness, a deep consciousness. This is the "checking in" women so desperately need and it will only come if we rest more, specially using conscious tools like my favorite, yoga nidra meditation, a sleep-based meditation technique recently referred to as a "secret ... happy place" that's all your own.
Consciousness provides these gaps of nothingness and in the gap -- a deep pause -- this is when women can dis-identify with exhaustion. Not deny their exhaustion, but rather stay unattached to that story.
Think of it like a container. Your story of exhaustion is not the container, it's part of the stuff in the container. We tend to notice the stuff, right? We often say things like "I'm so tired all the time" or "I never sleep" because this is part of our stuff in the container. This is not the container. The container is your true story -- the gold -- and not everything moving through it. The story of your stuff is time-bound. You are not. You are timeless.
Yogis often talk about enlightenment as being when you are resting in the space of awareness. When you are the container.
I attended a training a few years ago at the Amrit Yoga Center and on my ride home on the airplane I found myself writing the words of my instructor again and again:
"You are the silence, not the sound."
This is the new story of exhaustion that women must start telling. A story born out of silence, not sound.
I believe that once women rest more, get silent, and start using tools that raise our consciousness -- that help us check in -- we will finally know without a doubt that we are powerful beyond our wildest imagination. Not Super Woman -- women aren't blind anymore, we know this isn't the gold -- but simply we'll begin to tell the version of us born out of awareness beyond our stuff. We'll tell whole truth in our own voices. The new narrative of women on exhaustion.
Are you ready to step into a new story when it comes to exhaustion? From March 2-8 I'm hosting the second online Global Sleep Summit for Women's Health and Power. We're starting the week off with a Day of Rest for Women... 24 hours of yoga nidra mediation plus a talk and live yoga nidra session with a living yoga legend, Yogi Amrit Desai. The rest of the week we'll be offering other natural ways for you to get better sleep and shift your consciousness to tell a new story when it comes to sleep and exhaustion.
Use hashtag #womensleep
Here's to re-writing your story of exhaustion.