We have numerous coping mechanisms and self-defense practices to help us get through the day. Many seem innocuous and inconsequential. But like most devices, we can dangerously overuse them and isolate ourselves from our reality and those around us.
To the world, I look like an extrovert and in the sense that I process outside my head, I am. But after spending an afternoon, a day, or a week in the midst of people – I am exhausted and need to retreat to a quiet space where I can ‘be’ inside my head and heart in order to get refreshed. While not quite the dictionary definition of ruminate, I do ponder the intent, the words, and the actions I took today and consider where I may have been unnecessarily harsh, too provocative, or selfish. In my rumination, I review and revisit but I don’t beat myself up. I try to learn from my missteps and I try to do better next time. Connecting dots backwards helps me see how I can be more supple and subtle in the future. On the days that I wrestle with myself and am open to my gentle probing and receptive to being better, I am invigorated.
When I allow distraction or laziness to keep me from reflection, I begin to seed trauma. While I pretend to keep busy with other tasks, my head and heart are using kinetic energy trying to reconcile fragments that require focus to understand. I bury the instance or interaction and insist that it is forgotten but until I acknowledge the emotions, atone for any infractions or forgive myself, I allow the boil to fester. The trauma compiles with and compresses yesterday’s stuff that wasn’t dealt with and the day before and … Before long the stress is too much to bear and I present and resent in unhealthy ways. I either lose my temper, my composure, or I begin plotting some ridiculous vengeance. None are necessary or helpful.
There seems to be evidence (I know not pure scientific research) that when I let the boils of discontent fester without rumination, I suffer from stress and when I reflect, grimace and reconcile I celebrate growth.
I am better when I am better at mulling, accepting, confessing, and remedying. I will reflect on that last sentence tonight before I fall into blissful sleep.
The past might suck and the future is unknown but we can modify the present simply by being present. We have today and can make the best of each moment.
Henrik Edberg wrote in the Positivity Blog in 2008 ” 7 Awesome Reasons to Be Present, and How to Do It” that greater appreciation and social skills arise from being in the moment (in the conversation).Our creativity and health also improve.
He offers 3 simple steps to practice.
Focus on your breath.
By now, you should be getting really comfortable with breathing exercises and have learned a technique and rhythm that works for you.
Focus on what’s right in front of you.
Or around you. Or on you. Use your senses. Just look at what’s right in front of you right now. Listen to the sounds around you. Feel the fabric of your clothes and focus on how they feel. You can for instance use the summer sun or rain and how it feels on your skin to connect with the present.
Pick up the vibe from present people.
If you know someone that is more present than most people then you can pick his/her vibe of presence (just like you can pick up positivity or enthusiasm from people). If you don’t know someone like that I recommend listening to/watching cds/dvds by Eckhart Tolle like Stillness Speaks or The Flowering of Consciousness. His books work too. But cds/dvds are better than books for picking up someone’s vibe since the biggest part of communication is voice tonality and body language.
Make Today Remarkable, by being present,
The first step in any change, any adventure, any relationship is often the hardest to take (not the hardest to do). The second step isn’t much easier but by the time you get to 3,4,5 you will have created some momentum and even the most difficult steps get easier.
The first step and the hardest in moving from Mired, Mediocre and Miserable to BBM or SSS is to simultaneously believe in yourself and surrender to a higher power. The paradox is achieved by beginning to breathe again. Breath is the restorer, the calmer, the life giver. Breathing clears your mind, opens your heart and creates a glimmer of possibility. Breathing makes everything else possible and yet because it is usually involuntary we give it no consideration.
Today’s first step and the first step you should take first thing every day is breathing. Greg Richardson (The Spiritual Monk) says “We breathe in, and fresh air fills our lungs. We pause to receive. We acquire the oxygen we need for our hearts, minds, and bodies to continue working. Our sense of smell connects the world around us with the world within us. We breathe out, providing nutrients to the plants around us. We release tensions and toxins, letting go of what is not healthy for us to hold in ourselves. Our breathing reflects the steps we take inward and back out into the world on our spiritual journeys each day.”
Have you forgotten how to breathe? The simplest practice is known as ‘equal breathing’. You should strive to carve 10 minutes out of your day to practice but today begin with 2 minutes. Stand tall or sit up straight. Imagine a string from the top of your head being lifted slightly. Close your eyes or short focus. Breathe in through your nose to the count of 4. 1,2,3,4 and exhale through your nose to 4. Repeat. After 15 times in and 15 times out you should feel calmer and some of the stress in your life will melt. That’s it for today.
Small step that is hard to take. As you progress to a longer cycle and longer intervals you will find a match to your rhythm that will be your daily breathing practice.
Make Today Remarkable, by breathing,