Shutting down or Self care? What is the difference?

I have been taking time away from social media for the last month, and my mind feels clearer, my jaw feels less tense and I have more time.

Alternately I also feel my time away from social media is a form of shutting down and shutting out what is coming with Donald Trump as president.

As I have taken time away I have been holding the ideas of shutting down vs. self care. What is the difference? How do I know when I am doing one vs. the other? Are the same? Are they always different?

Historically, I have used meditation and yoga to take me away from the world, a form of denial. I remember saying for years that I didn’t watch the news because I knew there was suffering, but I could not handle seeing it. Now I see this as a form of privilege that I can separate myself from the suffering of the world and live in my comfortable bubble.

But is there a time for shutting off and shutting down? I believe there is, and I also believe it can become a problem if that is the primary way of being. I go on yearly meditation retreats where I shut off completely. No talking, no eye contact, no phones, and no internet for a minimum of 3 days. Do you want to try shutting off? Come to the Lovingkindness primarily silent yoga and meditation retreat coming up next month on Whidbey Island. When I come back from removal from the world I feel more energized, sensitive, dedicated and ready to move forward (after a couple days of getting used to stimulus again!).

Yoga is about balance. Finding balance in our bodies, minds, hearts and spirits, and sometimes we have to go out of balance in order to regain balance. Sometimes something knocks us so violently off balance we are catapulted into a new way of being. Balance is not a one time exploration, but a constant navigation.

I love the concept of Kriya Yoga from the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. Kriya Yoga has three different aspects: work, self-study and surrender to something larger than yourself, and according to yoga, balance comes when we have all three of these in our lives. Surrender to the universe, to nature, to God can look like shutting down, but it can also look like self-care. Only surrendering though means we aren’t offering our much-needed work to the world. What actions do you want to do to make the world a better place? To reduce the suffering of the world? To increase justice? Self-study and wisdom from others can help us navigate this fine balance of “I have no control” and “I can make a difference.” Both are true.

How do you practice the balance of work, study and surrender? I would love to hear!