mindful recovery

Taking the time to slowly and mindfully recover from a powerful and expansive experience

Thank You cards feature my piece "Cycles of Work and Rest." Design guidance:  Vanessa Koch

Thank You cards feature my piece "Cycles of Work and Rest." Design guidance: Vanessa Koch

I am thrilled and thankful to have just completed my first solo art exhibition, #VenusOnMars, at the SFMOMA Artists Gallery.

So, what’s next? To me, I'm still working on the exhibition: I'm now in the Mindful Recovery phase–slowly and mindfully coming down from such a powerful and expansive experience.

Athletes do active recovery as they train. Mountaineers and scuba divers take time to acclimate to new heights and depths. We have models for active recovery for the body, but what about creative recovery?

Mindful Recovery is the newest part of my creative process. #VenusOnMars is a metaphor for restoring a sense of personal, collective, and environmental balance. Along this same theme, Mindful Recovery is a period of time to restore balance after a big creative launch.

We can be so hard on ourselves and so quick to move onto the next project. Mindful Recovery is a time to freshen up and recharge. Time to reflect, celebrate, and give thanks. Time to slow down and rest. What was tight and rushed in preparation for the deadline is now soft and loosened. In Mindful Recovery, as much as possible there are no new projects, just winding down the current one. With a sense of completion and closure, there’s space for what’s next.

My father often repeats the poem “If” by Rudyard Kipling, especially this line: “If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster / And treat those two impostors just the same.” On one hand, Mindful Recovery is a time to practice moving through the world as your new, expanded self. On the other hand, it also helps keep the awe-inspiring experience in perspective and a sense of purpose after launch, preventing burnout and “post-Olympic depression.” Also, in the thick of things pre-launch, I felt more at ease knowing there was some planned recovery time ahead.

Here are my phases for Mindful Recovery. Scale them up or down based on the magnitude of your project and your availability. The phases overlap. I’m moving through the phases roughly in this order, to slowly decelerate into rest.

Phase I: Wrap Up

Wrap up time-sensitive items related to the launch. Discern what items must be done now, vs. part of a future project.

Phase II: Reflect

Reflect on the project, your personal growth, and how the project has impacted your relationships.

  • For each dimension of the project: What went well? What can you celebrate? What would you do differently next time?

  • How have you grown as a person as a result of the project? What has surprised you? How far have you come in the past few years? Even in the past week?

  • Who helped you bring this project to life? How might you give thanks?

  • What relationships do you need to repair, at home and at work? How might you repair them?

  • Where does the project want to go next?

Phase III: Refresh

Freshen up your space and take care of your body.

  • How might you freshen up your workspace and your personal space? (All those returns!)

  • What health and personal care appointments do you need to make? (That dental appointment, that haircut you postponed before launch)

  • How might you rest and recharge? (Maybe a day off, weekend trip, vacation, or even simply going to bed a little earlier and moving through a day at 0.5x speed)

What does Mindful Recovery look like for you? Let me know in the comments below!