In my early twenties, I remember feeling incredibly efficient. It was like I could tackle an entire tote of to-dos each day, with room for drinks on the patio with friends each evening.
But when I became a parent, my time, naturally, became divvied up in a way that I wasn’t prepared for. Early motherhood seemed like a stark contrast to some earlier days throughout my youth. Not only did I feel inefficient, but the stress and worry about my inefficiency wasn’t exactly contributing to fixing the problem.
Motherhood abruptly taught me that I needed to place my primary concerns on what my child needed – and even my spouse at times – and then my own concerns. I could feel that tote-wielding twenty-something just looking at me over her shoulder; an expression that could only read, “BOI BYE” as she metaphorically sped past me.
In the first few years after my son’s birth, I wrestled with everyone else’s idea of motherhood, instead of figuring out what it needed to be like for me. And for me, sacrificing my efficiency wasn’t an option. It wasn’t OK to come last all the time.
Efficiency was part of my identity. I actually just really like creating and getting things done.
I don’t think motherhood is necessarily the big “interrupter”. I think many women feel a conscious or subconscious need to help with the needs of others, and sometimes, those lists of things we want to do can fall near the bottom of the list. But for me, becoming a parent is when I noticed my priorities shift, and I wasn’t able to easily recalibrate them back to a healthy balance.
My Efficiency Ritual: The Brain Dump
Almost every morning, I rise between 5AM and 6AM. It’s gruelling. It does suck. I’m not a natural early riser (I looove staying up late), but oh my – there is something about that magical sweet spot on the clock that becomes addictive. When I don’t wake up at that time and honor my efficiency rituals, I actually crave it, the way I would crave a cup of coffee!
It is the most sacred, uninterrupted alone time, where even most of the people in the city are still fast asleep. It’s magic.
And while the early rise isn’t my favorite part of the ritual, The Brain Dump and how I feel afterward is SO worth it. Now, it’s actually my favorite part of my day, because I feel so dang good after.
During the week, as soon as I’ve done my wake up rituals (drinking that big glass of water recommended in the Body Book is so important for me to get started), I sink down in front of my laptop, cup of coffee steaming beside me, and do some serious automatic writing. Or what I like to call – The Brain Dump.
I was first introduced to automatic writing years ago when I was processing some of my anger issues. A therapist recommended I write things down to help me process them. I was a student at the time, and in a writing program, so it was hard to keep up with automatic writing for my health because I was also simultaneously learning how to write in school.
A couple years later, I paired automatic writing with meditation to create a spiritual experience. It was great for me, but I lacked the structure I needed to actually make it a habit. I would do this style of automatic writing before bed, sometimes when I had writer’s block, or when I was upset and needed to process (holding that old teaching from my therapist).
But once I cracked the early morning automatic ritual, it was as if all the parts suddenly fit. I was experiencing new waves of clarity in the body, and I was able to actually be efficient in a way that had fallen away from me. I could actually get just as much done as I used to, but in less time. Wow.
How to do The Brain Dump
After your wakeup rituals (glass of water, fresh air, deep breathing), sit down with a journal, or in front of your laptop, and let your eyes soften slightly. Try not to focus on anything. Even if you go cross-eyed – that’s fine! You can even close your eyes if you want. This takes the meditation approach to automatic writing.
Begin typing or writing out all the things stuffed inside your brain. Imagine you are emptying the hard drive, backing up your data, and making space to flow and create in a healthy way. If there is something bothering you; a fight you can’t let go of, worry you’re hanging onto about your kid’s first month back at school, anxiety about that upcoming project – the workout regime that you’ve let slide – whatever the thing(s) is – type it all out so you can release it.
Remember to keep your eyes soft and out of focus. This is important because as soon as you begin reading what you write, your brain kicks in, takes over, rationalizes, has you backspacing, and causes you to edit and filter in a way that you don’t need to do. You don’t actually need to read what you’re writing while you’re writing it. You want to channel it out so fast that you actually EXPEL the energy from yourself. Imagine the clogged overloaded information inside you being EXPELLED from your own energy system, freeing up valuable space.
Once you feel you have exhausted all the subjects bothering you or the subjects that are on your mind and nagging you, should you stop writing. Then, take a deep breath, and go back and read what you wrote.
The entire process usually takes me 10 – 20 minutes.
benefits of the brain dump
Oftentimes, I find I have said things that surprise me. Since I’m writing and channelling this information in a meditative way, I’m not super conscious of what comes out while it’s coming out. It just flows out.
When I first began this process, I learned that my inner voice was actually really critical and tough on me – in a way I wouldn’t be with others. That’s why turning the filter off – your brain – is important, so you can discover some truths, stop worrying about all this mental gunk clogging up your system, and get back to working efficiently and effectively to the things you actually want to be doing for yourself.
So many of us get distracted numerous times throughout the day because something comes up – or something is begging for our attention. We get caught up in the distraction, abandon what we were first doing, and then start doing numerous things at once. How efficient and effective we are can then become compromised.
Once you’ve done The Brain Dump, you’ve given these nagging things the energy they want, and you can move passed them. You are then able to move into a solid 60 to 90 minutes of productive, intense work to begin your day on the right foot.
VANESSA KUNDERMAN is an openhearted writer and storyteller who inspires others to discover their own paths and personal stories. She has a diploma in Creative Communications, and teaches at the University of Winnipeg. Her website, Rogue Wood Supply, is a large resource of modern spiritual practices centered around crystals, botanicals, and the moon. As an intuitive and crystal guide, she hosts sacred women’s workshops, offers crystal readings, and shares weekly moon phase oracles online. Vanessa and her work has been featured in Refinery29, The New Moon project, Cottage Life Magazine, and more. She is a mother and cancer survivor living in the Canadian Prairies.