Let's face it, women today are tired.
Done. Cooked. Fried.
I support busy women leaders, and here is what they tell me all the time:
"I spent years getting educated and now I don't have any energy to work."
"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."
"I'm an early-morning waker and this lack of sleep is ruining my life."
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 getting deep, conscious rest because it's from peaceful terrain - the truth of who you are - where new stories grow.
Shedding Your Tired Stories About Sleep & Rest
Do I want women to lie about being tired? Yes.
Actually, I see it more like the need to shed.
If we're going to stop the cycle of fatigue, we've got to shed ourselves of what keep us so tired. And that starts with our mind.
No matter how many gadgets you use to measure the number of hours you're sleeping or how well you think you know the source of your exhaustion, identifying with an "I'm exhausted" mantra is ultimately draining.
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 -- also doesn't help you sleep. It may be your present-moment reality, but believing you're not a good sleeper often comes true.
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 you to be cautious how you use it. Sleep deprivation is only an ingredient - it's not your full story.
When You See Beyond Exhaustion, You See Gold
It's no wonder women are so exhausted. When we tell only one side of the story throws us out of balance. It reinforces separation.
Most of us rest to fuel productivity. But at its core, rest is a supreme act of having no agenda. Rest helps you find your gold.
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 living. 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.
Valerie Estelle Frankel, author of the book From Girl to Goddess, has said, "While the hero journeys for external fame, fortune. and power, the heroine tries to regain her lost creative spirit."
What if our story of exhaustion is tied to women forgetting this? What the road to writing our new story of exhaustion is to become the heroine of our story and regain our creative spirit?
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. Rest was a joke. Good sleep was an accepted part of the narrative. Deep down many of them were personally miserable.
Historically, and even today, the main way a woman takes back her sleep - and ultimately her power - has been through breakdown. Why? Because this is when we finally give up the old story of exhaustion, that we can't sleep, and we collapse on our beds to get some rest. This is why for many women, a breakdown is a door back to their lost creative spirits. And a door back to lifting layers of exhaustion.
The problem today is that we medicate women before they breakdown. While medication is necessary for some people, there is no way the 344% increase in women taking ADHA medication in the United States over a decade recently is serving women to tell a new story of exhaustion. For many of us, it's keeping us in the old exhaustion story.
I know fatigue is a vicious cycle. We can't find our lost creative spirits unless we get rest. And we can't rest unless we aren't so stressed.
The good news is that there is a solution.
A New, Conscious Container for Your Life & Work
How do we tell a different story? It starts with cultivating awareness and the best place to harness this skill is through conscious rest. That's the kind of rest where you effortlessly check "in" instead of "out." In the Daring to Rest world, it starts with yoga nidra "rest" meditation - a sleep-based meditation technique that feels like the best nap of your life and a really good therapy session rolled into one.
Your body relaxes into supreme peace. Your mind is still and free from the mental loop of negative thoughts and emotions. You often start sleeping again because yoga nidra re-teaches the body to sleep by guiding you into deep sleep brainwaves. You experience your inner world, something you didn't even know you craved, but when you're there you experience a deep sense of consciousness. Consciousness is always working to know itself, and when it does you have found your creative spirit, your home.
Women who don't sleep well are always on the scent of home - they just can't find it. The moment you sense home, you trust closing your eyes and sleeping again, of going into darkness. You live in the body. People who feel overwhelm live in the head.
Insomnia is a messenger. Once the message is received, the insomnia goes away. People with insomnia need to regularly tap into the parasympathetic branch of their nervous system several times every day.
The more we rest, the more we hear the messages we need to hear, and that's when our new story begins to emerge. Rest feeds our inner world, and often with exhaustion it's our inner world that needs to be fed. This is where our creative spirit lives.
Conscious rest provides gaps of nothingness and in the gap -- a deep pause -- this is when you can dis-identify with all those stories of exhaustion. You're not denying that you feel exhausted, but rather you're learning to stay unattached to the story. It's the story we love to feed on like chocolate cake and causes us to feel stuck in our exhaustion story. The moment you shine awareness on the cake, it stops being so attractive. It's power of you softens.
Every time you lay down to practice yoga nidra meditation, you're softening that old exhaustion story and opening up space for a new story.
Yogis often talk about enlightenment as being when you are resting in the space of awareness. This is where you are taken to in yoga nidra - the space of awareness. It's here you realize that you are the container. You thought your story - "I can't sleep" - was the container, but this is not the whole story. 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" because this is part of our stuff in the container. But this is not the container. The container is your creative spirit -- the gold -- and not everything moving through it. The story of your stuff is time-bound. You are not. You are timeless. Yoga nidra meditation helps you know yourself as the space of awareness, and when you do, you become free from the stuff in your container. It's just stuff moving through the container.
There's no person on the planet that feels perfectly well-rested. A mom with her newborn will feel exhausted. A woman on a deadline for a project will feel tired. But when we see this as part of our container, not all of it, this opens up space for change. Giving yourself permission to rest with yoga nidra opens you up to live this new story.
New awareness, new story.
Well-rested women live a new narrative on exhaustion.