There are all sorts of old-timey phrases like, “the cobbler’s children have no shoes,” and “physician heal thyself” that remind us to take care of ourselves first. Taking care of others and running ourselves ragged in the process does no one any good in the long run.

With this in mind, I’m taking care of myself today. Starting up a business, developing a website on my own with zero experience, writing a blog, plus all of the usual taking-care-of-a-household things caught up with me this week. I developed a mystery pain in my shoulder, and upon receiving a great massage the pain moved to my hip. Despite this, I went to Aikido class and was very clearly told by my aches that I needed to go home, instead. A friend who does energy work said she was receiving the message that I was perhaps working hard on things that were not necessarily in line with what I really want. Well, I laughed at that, of course! Here I am helping other people follow their hearts, and I needed an “ouch” to remind me of the same thing. The lesson for me was to stop worrying about following all of the well-meaning advice from colleagues and professionals in the field, and to follow my instincts.

So how do we follow our intuition, our instincts, in the face of near-constant input from the outside world? This is a challenge, as we are bombarded daily with new diets, new exercise programs, new research into mindfulness and meditation, new this and new that. Trying to keep up with it all, let alone implement it in our lives, is exhausting. Sometimes we just need to make a moment – a gap.

Last night as I was sitting on a bag of frozen corn trying to mollify my hip, I watched a great conversation between the Buddhist teacher Pema Chodron and the singer k.d. lang. They were delightful to watch and listen to, and one thing really stood out. K.d. called it “gapaciousness” and Pema immediately agreed. What they referred to was the need for us to allow for gaps in our day, or even on a moment-by-moment basis. We whirl through our days, moving from one task to another, and when there isn’t a task in front of us we think up another one! Pauses are for people with poor time management…right?

Au contraire, my friends. Gaps are critical for us to find a moment of peace. Gaps allow us to “sit” with who we are, rather than hiding our nature inside of activity. Sitting with who we are can be uncomfortable, because it is a deep and still place where anything might come in. Memories, worries, sadness, joyfulness, pain, delight are all on the menu. The difficulty for us is to allow the gap, the pause, the moment of openness and to abide with it.

Will you take the challenge with me? Do you allow yourself to abide, or do you rush on to the next mind-filling task? Remember the line from The Big Lebowski, “The Dude abides?” Give yourself permission today, and abide.