This is the first post in a series about transforming the Seven Deadly Sins into Your Crown Jewels.
I love wearing crowns. I have been part of a Mardi Gras royal court and I have an inside joke with a close friend about “tiara sex.” I used mental imagery of me wearing a crown to successfully resolve my chronic right hip pain. I just entered a contest to win a crown . (You can enter, too!).
Over the course of my career, I have seen so many clients who do not have a strong sense of who they are, or they do, and they are suppressing it. I was one of them for a long time. If I could do one thing to mitigate pain and disease in people, it would be to eliminate the shame, guilt, and external expectations around which we contort ourselves. For all of the mechanical issues I have treated as a physical therapist, these spiritual ones are at the core of long-term resolution and eliminating recurrences.
Today, the character that I want you to turn into a crown jewel is that of sloth. My life is full of sloth. I have two middle-school aged sons that I can always find based on the trail of backpacks, shoes, socks, belts, and other articles of clothing they leave in their wake when they come home from school. I have a dog and a house of hardwood floors littered with clumps of dog hair. I am not interested in vacuuming every day. I don’t even make my bed. I enjoy getting into a well-made bed, but on most days I don’t see the point. And for all the times I have enjoyed getting into a well-made bed, I often find my feet restricted by a sheet pulled in too tight, and annoyed by covers that won’t pull up far enough over my shoulders. My husband, who is a Naval Academy graduate, does it very well when he wants the bed made. I have to loosen the sheets after he does it.
Though Americans are often berated for their low activity levels, some amount of sloth is an asset. I know there is research that indicates a messy desk really is a sign of genius. Over my 24 years of being married, I have noted that women who are unable to tolerate a messy house seem to end up in messy divorces. I don’t have any science to back that up, but I do have quite a few case studies. The inability to tolerate some amount of messiness seems to indicate a lack of control somewhere else in one’s life, and it is like a time bomb. Even the ten commandments tell you to be lazy for a day. I have frequently seen clients who are overdosing their exercise regimes – stretching too aggressively, doing too many sets of an exercise or exercising too intensely too often. Elite bodybuilders and weightlifters dose their rest as carefully as they dose their exercises.
In the Seven Virtues, that contrast the Seven Deadly Sins, the one that opposes sloth is diligence. Sloth is only a problem when we don’t do it mindfully, or diligently. Not making my bed is not a problem, because it is intentional. The state of my house at the moment is not intentional, but part of the reason it gets that way at times is because I am intentional about sitting down to dinner with my family most every night, having interesting discussions with my kids, meditating, writing, and developing my business. To me, this also aligns with Right Concentration in the Buddhist 8-fold path, the path of least resistance concept in the law of attraction, and mindful listening. Physically, sloth can manifest as poor systemic shock absorption, which I covered in an earlier blog post.
Give yourself some permission for sloth in your life. You are probably focusing on something else worthwhile. Drop one of those balls you are juggling, let the laundry sit a bit longer, don’t look at the crumbs on the kitchen counter. Sit and listen. What do you hear?
How do you embrace or control your sloth?