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Dr. Karina Smith

Learning to do less (and get more)


Learning to do less

"Why all the doing?"


Actually he said to me:


"Karina why all the giving?"


I was a bit stumped.


But "doing" and "giving" had been my regular program for so long, that I was really lost for words when he asked me why. My therapist that is.



It was one of my first sessions and I broke down in tears talking about how it felt like everyone wanted so much of me and I had nothing left to give. And that I was now losing precious friendships because I could not give them what they wanted from me. I was utterly exhausted. I had been "doing" my life for so long rather than being in my life. Spending time with friends was something I had to "do" or keep up with. Social hang outs felt like tasks that I had to keep up with to maintain the friendship and they left me feeling so drained. When people reached out to ask to spend time with me I would already feel energy depleting in me. The same feeling was there in teaching yoga, completing my uni degree, running yoga trainings, and trying to have a relationship. I told myself I needed to live alone so that I had time and space away from everyone in order to recharge my batteries and recalibrate my frequency. The truth is, that everything outside of my house that I had "to do" left me totally fatigued.


I said to my therapist "I feel like I am bleeding out all over the place". I knew I needed some real help to stop the bleeding and figure out how I had gotten to this place.


Coming from a performance background, a lot of any professional work felt like a production. The first few years of running my own Yin Yoga teacher trainings felt like I was preparing for a series of concerts. For those reading this post that were in attendance for any of those trainings, I hope you can giggle with me at my extremely structured nature of creating the course (which has actually received a lot of praise), and how it was delivered. I look back now and realise I didn't leave much space for flow or the spontaneity of the unknown. I really felt that I had to control the entire "show" because I didn't feel enough of a sense of trust in myself that it would be high value, or that my students would get enough out of it if I had not put 250% of my blood sweat and tears into its creation. Whoa! No wonder I was tired.


Every moment of my day was planned out. Back in 2017, I was in my second year of my Chinese Medicine Uni degree, which on its own was so much to take on board. In my downtime I was madly creating this huge Yin Yoga teacher training. I had books all over the floor and was slowly weaving the whole thing together.


Don't get me wrong, I am super proud of my accomplishments and I have created a really amazing training. It's just that I look back and see how much effort I poured into it, and that even if I had put 25% of myself into it, it still would have been amazing (mostly because now I have more faith in my own amazingness, not what I have to show in order to prove it).


Habitual doing and giving has deep roots. I think any excessive habit that we have was birthed from some kind of place within us that has not been healed yet. And I am one of those people who rolled their eyes when the hard hitting truths were offered to me.


"Is all the giving come from a place where you don't feel that you are enough?"


Oh god, am I really that cliche'd?

Couldn't my story be a little more unique and original?


It's like realising all of your stories about painful failed relationships have actually come from a childhood wound.... can't mine be a bit more special? Nope. Its classic good old "I don't feel like I am enough so I'm going to bust my balls showing all of you that I am so much and then fall in a heap because I burned myself out". Ahhhh learnings and growing yeah.


Damn.


So I have been working hard unpicking the stitches of my own tightly woven program. It has felt like a shedding of sorts. One big aspect of that work has been seriously dedicated self-care, and the other part of that work has been gently auditing my life and releasing the things that do not meet me energetically anymore. These are two wings of a bird, and they both need to be tended to equally. If I just stopped all the doing, it would not have addressed the underlying emotional components of why I had been "doing" in the first place. And then, when I felt more energetic, I would have probably loaded myself up with "things to do" and "new courses to create" and ended up right back at the beginning.


It does take some serious learning to do less. Unlearning the way that you "do". Examining your "doing" and the why underneath. I highly recommend getting some help with this kind of a process. It can be really hard to see where you have stitched yourself in, when you are inside of it, and a great therapist will be able to gently help you free your way out.

Chinese Medicine Acupuncture Clinic Newport Williamstown

I recently moved all of my clinical work to my new home. I am no longer driving to seperate rooms I had been hiring to offer Chinese Medicine treatments to my patients. I am no longer all spread out and extended across town. I have gently been letting go of teaching public yoga classes, and letting go of teacher trainings I was going to create, and have been consciously consolidating my world into one location that is nurturing and slow. It feels really amazing, like a rocket ship leaving for space that keeps letting go of its outer shell parts.


We recently had another lockdown in Melbourne. In the first week I only had three patients booked for sessions and I was very peaceful, happy and content with my small load. A far cry from Karina of a few years ago who was non-stop all the time and completely exhausted. And while I absolutely acknowledge that the lockdown was hell for many people, it was such a blessing for me to soften into slowness. Now the less that I "do", the less I want to do.


I just want to be slow, focused, quiet and rested. I have no need to prove to the world (actually I was trying to prove it to myself) that I am amazing according to the level of my productivity, because I know it in my own heart. This has freed up so much space in my mind and my schedule to explore what it feels like to "be."


Sometimes it brings up some anxiety, but I feel my former self in those moments showing up, and she just wants to be soothed. There is another wise woman inside of me that gently reassures me that I am enough and if I want to explore something now; work, relationships, new creative ideas, that I first take the time to feel if it meets me and uplifts me energetically. If it doesn't, then I simply redirect my energy to places that do.


Doing less has actually given me so much more.


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