Zoe Darling
Acupuncturist, Herbalist, and Health Counselor
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The Texture of Gently Pumping the Brakes, inside ourselves.

Sometime in these past weeks, I was awaiting someone in a virtual meeting. In that moment of quiet suspension, I sat with a hot cup of tea in my hands. I felt my body connected to the earth. The breath smooth and easeful entered my nose and lungs and belly. I felt the warmth in my hands, and warm tea in my mouth. There was delight: the warmth, the pause, the appreciation of the warmth and the pause.

Pump the brakes’ I thought with a smile spreading across my face.

Pump the brakes is an invitation my companion offers periodically when I’m moving a lil too quickly. He says it not with judgement, rather with care and love and levity. It could be in planning something on the horizon or a project which I’m ready to charge into, and he needs time to think about. Pump the brakes. He has a life plenty scheduled and full. Still, born and raised in Oahu, I find he embodies a sustained patience and intention to not be too much in a hurry. I appreciate the reminder.

My presence and way of moving in life can be perceived as intense. I kinda charge forward. Sometimes it goes well. Sometimes I have to circle round with an existential shop vac, attending to interpersonal misunderstanding or repair. Humility serves well. Patience also serves well. What I’ve learned is that when I slow down, I’m more available to connection; with my body, with the earth, with the people around me, and with dynamics that may not be so apparent to me initially.

There can tension between the urgency of action and the value of discernment. Pumping the brakes can apply to working with patients struggling with digestive distress or anxiety. Quick fixes don’t always offer sustained, long terms change. Outside of clinic, this can apply to everything from carpentry (measure twice, cut once) to organizing work, where moving too quickly can be to the exclusion of the very voices with least power and who have most direct wisdom and will be most impacted by decision making. Consider the wave upon wave of union organizing happening throughout the country, from Hollywood to healthcare; people gathering and making strategic, hard choices to slow things down in order to move in a hopefully better direction for the collective

Pumping the brakes, interestingly, doesn’t necessarily mean to stop. There is still forward movement. There’s simply a slowing things down invited into the movement. And if you were ever looking for a seasonally sanctioned moment to pump the brakes, autumn is a good time! Consider this an invitation to pause with a warm beverage and consider small ways to pump the brakes as we pivot into these shorter, colder, wetter days. I’m not rubbing it in, just being real 😉

In the heartmind ~ Some physical pause in reflection or prayer or meditation. Adding a daily routine or ritual.
In the body ~ Some stretching or tending to the body before or after activity. I’m a BIG fan of epson salt baths!
In Market interactions ~ To the person serving you something (coffee, food, groceries), consider asking them something that acknowledges their humanity: “Have people treated you kindly today? How did you sleep last night?”
Interpersonally ~ Change it up and check in with your beloveds with a different question: What’s a rose and a thorn from your day?  Is there’s something I could do that would bring you joy this week? Can I ask for your help with ____?
In group/organizing work ~ Start your meeting with a poem or reading or few moments of silence to more deeply land. Engage sociocracy or other circle models to slow it down and assure all voices have space to be heard.

Many people have emailed or told me in person these past months, “I love your newsletters, I miss your writing”. I’ve written less often than in the early pandemic. Time felt abundant in a different way in 2020. I’ve also adopted a pump the brakes patience over time in how these newsletters ripen. It’s very consistent. Something arises in life. And then that theme emerges in clinic, I talk with patients, hear their experiences and share my own. After the fourth or fourteenth time, the subject line is birthed. And then it all gushes out onto the screen. Sometimes it still takes weeks between the subject line birth and when the send button is pushed. If you’re ever interested to peruse archives from the past, I migrated a curated handful of past newsletter, and you’ll find them on my website here. Each was birthed with intention and care.

Burien clinic relocation occurred early summer and is going great! Many of my patients have found it relieving to not deal with the stresses and parking costs downtown, even if it’s a lil further away. Many of my patients are thrilled I’m further in the south end. Please let me know if you have any questions, or are interested in scheduling an appointment for care. Tender regards to you as we pivot into the darker times.

with tenderness,


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