This morning I woke to a beautiful day. From our bedroom window, I could see the sun casting its rays across Mt. Tamalpais, our cat had positioned himself on my head and was contently purring. Upon rising, I saw my beau had already made coffee and thoughtfully set out my cup. I padded into my office, sat at my desk, reviewed email and mindfully planned the day.
The turning point:
It was my turn to drive our daughter to school. At the last minute my beau told me he needed the car to drive into the city and I needed to use his work truck…a ginormous old Ford F250 which I’ve come to not-so-affectionately call Grendel because of its voracious appetite for gas. Speaking of gas, the truck, which has two tanks, was redlined on empty in both. All of this information flowed in two minutes before we were leaving for school, of which we were already dashing to make on time. Saying a little prayer we coasted on fumes up and over the hill just in time to hit the beginnings of construction and lane closures. My stress-o-meter was rising far beyond my comfort zone for this early in the morning. As we finally made our way to the back entrance of the school grounds, we saw all the normal parking spots were taken with only a red zone calling us in. I had two choices: Either slow Grendel to a rolling stop for my daughter to leap out like Starsky & Hutch or I put the thing into park for two seconds, run around and help her down out of the truck and send her off to class on time. I chose the latter. And as if the stars weren’t already aligned for a dreadful morning, a CHP motorcycle cop comes around the corner and nails me for “impeding traffic, parking in a red zone and parking in front of a NO PARKING SIGN.” There I sat in Grendel, in front of the cop, in front of all the other parents herding their own children into school, feeling like the biggest misfit of the year. All the while I was internally cursing my beau for making me take that gas hog in the first place. My mind rampaged off to earlier in the morning, to the present embarrassing (and costly) situation, and forward to the future of what I needed to accomplish today.
I have to share with you that the entire ride home, and about twenty minutes beyond that, I was fuming. I wanted my beau to be responsible and accept the blame. I wanted the cop to be human and show some semblance of empathy, but really what it came down to, was that I made the choice and it cost me…and that made me even more infuriated. And so, I hiked on it.
Energy follows focus:
While hiking, I reminded myself of my mantra, ‘energy follows focus’. I could now make another choice, I could choose where I was living emotionally. I could choose to stew about the morning for the remainder of the day or I could let it move through me and realize it just is what it is….and what it is, is not the end of the world. While I hiked, I let it all go. Breathing in that beautiful morning once again, the birdsong, the eucalyptus trees, the happy dogs, the view of Mt Tam and the city beyond her, as I hiked through my external sanctuary, I returned to my internal sanctuary.
Have you been there? Where do you live emotionally?
It’s Monday morning, the alarm clock sounds and you wake. Where do your thoughts take you? Gotta make coffee…get in the shower…check email…what’s in the news…have to call…the To-Do list…and that’s just 20 minutes into your day. As a result of these thoughts, you begin to experience frustration, anxiety, perhaps depression.
Where is your mind and how far has it traveled from your body? Often it’s our body which remains in one place while the mind rampages back and forth from past to present to future.
How many times have you paused and realized your mind was already into the next day, your forehead felt congested and your low back felt achy? Or how many times has your mind been visiting some unpleasant scene from the past and you return to find your body bound up like a contortionist? Limiting thoughts sabotage our ability to evolve, understand the entire picture and believe in the potential of our lives and we become our own worst enemy. Where would we be if we simply stepped out of our own way?
The practice of being mindful is not only about clearing the mind, it has positive physical effects. When our mind is open, so follows our body. When we are presently operating in a given situation we are participating with our entire self. We are inhabiting our body as opposed to externalizing our energy to somewhere else. When we externalize our energy to other people, anticipations, conflicts, then we begin to lose ourselves and leak our energy from our center. In addition, the adrenals are sensing stress and sending out more of the stress hormone, cortisol, into the body which ultimately creates acidity and inflammation.
Even though the two may seem like independent contractors, mind controls body. Pausing and becoming mindful of our thoughts takes practice. It’s why I like Reiki so much because it seems to press a giant reset button allowing the physical body to decompress and the mind to calm down. Whatever our mindfulness practice is, hiking, meditation, cooking, gardening, swimming, just be sure to include in each part of the day. It helps tremendously to free ourselves from an emotional prison and leads the way to our sanctuary.
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