The Super Blue Moon
This past super blue moon in Pisces, which happened in late August 2023, was a powerful one. A blue moon refers to two full moons in one month. This only happens every 33 months, so the phrase “once in a blue moon” relates to its rarity. NASA reports that only 3% of full moons are blue moons.
Secondly, the moon’s orbit was closer than usual to Earth; that’s what made it “super.” As the moon affects the tides of the ocean, it also influences our own energy. But this super blue moon was particularly intense, and I’m still feeling the effects of what it had to teach me. Full moons are often associated with reassessing, surrendering, and releasing.
At the time, I wasn’t sure what I needed to let go of. However, it was soon revealed to me. I gave a Reiki healing to a dear friend a few days after the super blue moon. Some of you may know that I’ve been a Reiki Master and Practitioner for nearly eight years now. While I’m no longer actively practicing, I wanted to offer this healing to my friend because she does so much for others.
When I commenced the healing, my body became scorching hot, and I felt as though I had been in a sauna for hours. Afterwards, a shift occurred; we both felt “lighter” and more relaxed. Everything was easy; a natural flow was happening within and around us. Little did I know, a purging had begun—a purification.
I arrived home and immediately fell asleep for nearly three hours. The next day, the same thing happened: I slept, taking catnaps on the couch between an hour or two of work. I had bouts of nausea and continued to sleep for several hours throughout the day.
I became alarmed, and an inner dialogue took place. I asked myself, “What’s going on? I have plans to work this entire holiday weekend. I can’t just sleep it away!” I was annoyed, but then I became still and listened. The inner voice from whom I was demanding an explanation came through.
“Rest,” it said.
“What do you mean, rest? My weekend is planned out—I’m going to be productive!” Although I was frustrated, I began to realize that my mind and body were exhausted.
In fact, both had been gently dropping hints and nudges at me for days, but I chose to ignore them, and now my body was sounding the alarm and calling for a shutdown, forcing me to rest.
Driven by Production
Slowly, my annoyance turned into curiosity. How often do we, as a society, push and overwork ourselves to the point of exhaustion? How are productivity and work so ingrained (and unconsciously spinning in our minds) that they cause exhaustion and illness while being applauded and revered over self-care? Why are we constantly running toward the next goal without acknowledging where we are and how far we’ve come?
I include myself in this group where there’s a need to constantly rush—to not only be productive, but to get to the next thing. We hurry through the grocery store, scurrying through the aisles with our carts. We zip down streets to pick up our kids or reach our destinations.
At times, it seems like our world is accelerating at such a pace that we’re racing along, planning and coordinating months in advance so that we are one step ahead of the careening force that seems to be ever-present in our lives.
For instance, we’re putting up Halloween decorations before Labor Day (I’ve already witnessed this happening in a nearby neighborhood). Thanksgiving is often overlooked as a time to entice consumers with sales for the December holiday season, and Christmas is celebrated in July via the Hallmark Channel.
Don’t get me wrong—I enjoy the holidays. But in our rush to be productive or to get ahead of it all, how often do we miss the moment? Moments of stillness to observe the world around us, moments of presence, moments where we truly connect versus speeding through our day to get things done.
Being productive and having a sense of accomplishment can be rewarding, but the idea of productivity without rest, reflection, and play, is debilitating and leads to chronic physical, emotional, and mental health issues.
I was seeing signs and experiencing health issues from the pressure I was putting on myself to be productive over the past couple of weeks: the constant anxiety I felt, the lack of sleep from working long hours, and the small, mysterious bumps appearing on my arms that seemed to come from nowhere. I was worrying so much that I became ill, and my constant thought was, “I’m not doing enough.”
Overwork doesn’t necessarily result in increased productivity. We tend to make more mistakes when we are overworked, and burnout can ensue shortly thereafter.
Studies have shown that overworking is harmful to our physical and mental well-being, and exhausted employees are more likely to have serious health issues, including heart disease, depression, anxiety, and even stroke. In 2021, the United States was ranked the 10th overworked country in the world.
I wrote about the how mental health is becoming a world concern and the need for more open discussions and services for mental health in a blog post. You can find it here.
Thankfully, we’re having more discussions about work-life balance. People are yearning for deeper and more meaningful connections, experiences, and a greater sense of community.
Yes, productivity is a part of our lives, but we’re beginning to realize that work doesn’t have to be an all-consuming and dominating force, nor should it be. Having a healthy balance in all areas of our lives creates greater happiness, peace, and fulfillment.
The Art of Resting
I came across a quote by the wise and insightful Thich Nhat Hanh, who said,
“It’s very important that we re-learn the art of resting and relaxing. Not only does it help prevent the onset of many illnesses that develop through chronic tension and worrying; it allows us to clear our minds, focus, and find creative solutions to problems.”
With this reflection, I’m “re-learning” how to relax without feeling guilty that I’m not being productive.
What is the art of resting? For me, it is about having awareness and noticing when my mind wanders towards work when I’m meant to rest. Meditation, journaling, and walking help me stay present, allowing me to simply “be” while engaging in the world and enjoying the moment. After resting for a few days, my ailments disappeared.
The only one telling me I wasn’t doing enough was myself. Things that brought me delight in the past, such as dance, photography, connecting with others, and being in nature, I’m doing again. These activities bring me joy, create greater fulfillment, and, in turn, fuel me and my work.
Productivity can be rewarding, but it’s also necessary for us to allow our minds and bodies to fully rest. When we unplug from work, we gain greater clarity while improving our health and well-being. It’s been a valuable lesson for me from the super blue moon: let go, allow, and, as a result, do more with grace and ease. Now I’m embracing how I show up, take care of myself, and practice the art of resting.
May you find rejuvenation, vitality, and peace through rest and relaxation.