Doesn’t it feel great to give a project your full effort? Can you go on like the Energizer Bunny without taking a break? I can’t. I believe we’re much better off when we teach ourselves to pause, let go, and allow our systems to restore.

In my meditation group, Lucy (not her real name) reported her dislike for the slogan, “Easy Does It”, because it made her think of people sitting around the house, bored and unproductive. The bumper stickers saying “Easy Does It” were irritating and annoying to her. Who ARE these lazy people, lounging around while she was working?

Then Lucy had a wake up call. She was working hard, stressed and short tempered, and she was treating her co-workers gruffly and abruptly. When Lucy was short-tempered, her co-workers made unconscious, uncharacteristic mistakes, and they felt bad. Lucy felt bad. Fortunately, she noticed the cause and effect and understood she needed to make some changes in her behavior.

A friend of hers suggested the detested slogan, “Easy Does It.” Lucy started meditating with “Easy Does It” as a mantra, silently repeating the phrase. Not long meditations—just a few minutes every day or so. She noticed that now, when she senses stress building up, the phrase “Easy Does It” comes to her, and it connects her to the calm she feels in meditation.

“Easy Does It” is one of the principles of meditation. My teacher, Sarah McLean, says it this way: “Don’t try too hard.” The thing is, it feels great to do our work in the world, AND we need to balance that external activity by resting and allowing the mind/body to restore itself.

There’s a nourishment that comes when we consciously and attentively take a break. It can be as simple as closing your eyes and silently repeating “Easy Does It.” You won’t turn into a couch potato—but you could find yourself easier to be around.