“I’m only as hard on others as I am…
The “3 days rule” came to me while I was in Australia earlier this year. It is a practice in refraining for three days. It goes like this: when something or someone unsettles you, refrain from reacting and sit with “it” for a few days. What I discovered is that by the third day I’ll have either forgotten about it completely or I’ll have found an appropriate response.
Melissa, my awesome host in Byron Bay, had to remind me of my own advice on a couple of occasions. She loved the three day rule and would remind me of it often. She’d say: “Three days!!!” We’d both laugh, then she’d add her own twist “and if three’s not enough, take seven!” It became our inside joke. I wrote it down in my journal next to her photo to remind myself to take a time out when needed.
How it came about it
As you may know, I spent February, March and April of this year studying Ashtanga Yoga in Australia with a well known teacher. For those of you not familiar with Ashtanga, it is a dynamic style of yoga in which one practices a fixed sequence of poses, while paying special attention to the breath, pelvic floor engagement and direction of one’s gaze. It is a silent practice, everyone moves at their own pace focused on their breath, inner sensations and thoughts.
After practicing like this, day in and day out for a while, I’d noticed how unresolved situations in my life would bubble into my consciousness. Often the triggers were emails from family or friends back home. Something would rub me the wrong way and uncomfortable emotions would swirl around my gut as unpleasant arguments took over my thoughs. I learned to let the inner storm blow over. After a while, the intensity dissipated and that thing that was nagging me would now seem completely unimportant. By day three I would have forgotten all about it!
What I learned
I learned to refrain from reacting. I decided not to answer emails immediately, instead I’d wait for the right time. Until I experienced it for myself, I thought refraining meant repressing. What I realized is that refraining is like pressing the “pause” button. You do not act out your feelings and, at the same time, you don’t repress them either. Refraining makes space for the energy to shift and reveal something new.
I also learned that things takes time; that answers come when they’re ready. I learned that I can’t force them, rather I can invite them in by making space. The same goes for creativity and insights, they have their own agenda and come in their own time.
Of course, I forgot all this good stuff soon after it I had learned it. Lucky for me, Melissa was there to remind me:) “Three days!” became our inside joke and reality check.
I dare you to try it!
Most of us are so hyper-connected through emails, text messages and social media that we feel we need to be reachable every minute of our lives: from this perspective, three days will seems like eternity! Start small, take three minutes, turn your phone off and breathe. Gradually give increase the time you allow yourself to feel, pause and process. Repeat often!