Pause and Breathe
“Even as fire finds peace in its resting place without fuel, when thoughts become silence the soul finds peace in its own source. When the mind is silent, then it can enter into a world which is far beyond the mind. This is wisdom, and this is liberation.”
I have a confession: I get stressed and overwhelmed. It feels unavoidable, yet if I have tools and strategies to help me get through tough times, I feel I can manage the suffering a little better. Let me give you a glimpse into one such situation.
It is a Sunday morning that began as many Sunday mornings do, wake with no alarm for coffee cozily in bed with Les watching the beautiful colors of the sunrise out the window. Normally I would bask in the relaxation of this morning. However, the recent news from my accountant of an unexpected, yet impending tax bill has me feeling like the lazy and relaxing morning was unjustified or irresponsible.
The news put me into survival brain mode and all my self-care practices were pushed to the bottom of the list of priorities and with it went my peace of mind. Instead of enjoying the morning, I was thinking, “What can I be doing to be more productive?” “I shouldn’t be wasting my time in bed doing nothing when there is so much to do!”
Stress Takes Over
My mind races a mile a minute going through my to do list. To make matters worse, these thoughts are in conflict with the commitments I have made to myself. Today I planned to meditate, journal, workout, sit in the sauna, enjoy time with my family, and NOT work!
Overwhelmed by the noisy chatter in my mind fighting for my most valuable resource, my time, I ask Les, “How do people get it all accomplished?” This is not the first time we have had this conversation before and the answer is always, “They don’t!” Logically, I know this, yet my old belief of not good enough pushes its way to the surface. I start judging myself and comparing myself to others. The laundry is looming, the house needs to be cleaned, the driveway will need to be shoveled, and tomorrow is Monday when the work will pile up. Thank goodness Les makes our family delicious and nutritious dinner most nights.
I let the worry go for a moment to read from Mark Nepo’s “The Book of Awakening.” Like it often is, today’s reading is just what I needed to feed my soul and remind me of my priorities. Here is a few sentences from the reading:
“When gripped by fear of anxiety, the reflex is to hold on, speed up, or remove oneself. Yet when we feel the reflex to hold on, that is usually the moment we need to let go. When we feel the urgency to speed up, that is typically the instant we need to slow down. Often when we feel the impulse to flee, it is the opportunity to face ourselves.”
Pause and Breathe
In this moment as I pause and breathe, I am able to check in with myself. This morning, when I choose to do this, I recognize that it’s time to let go of the need to do it all and do it well, it’s time to let go of worry. This pause tells me what I need in order to fill my reserves from their depleted state.
I offer myself grace. My to do list, and that dang tax bill, will be there tomorrow. On my workout schedule is plans for my strength training and intervals, a strenuous endeavor for me. For today, I recognize a gentle movement session is a better fit. I let go of the attachment of doing what I am “supposed to” and this choice quiets the overwhelm.
As I look out my window and see the snow beginning to fall, I choose to breathe and simply do one thing at a time, one step at a time. I know everything may not get finished, but if I sit in this state of overwhelm, I let the anxiety win, nothing will get done, AND I will be miserable.
Time to Take Care of Me
Ok, here I go, one thing at a time. First task, I go outside to feed the chickens, I pause and breathe in the cold, fresh air. At that moment, I smile and recognize my need to be out in nature and let go of the rest for the moment.
I bundle up and go outside to move wheelbarrows full of wood chips. While the snow is coming down may seem like a strange time to do lawn work, yet it was the perfect medicine for me. I found myself smiling in pure joy as I worked, knowing that this is just what I needed. And even better, I gave myself permission to take what I needed. Screw the laundry!
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With love and gratitude,
Sara and Les
The Mindful Movement
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About your host
Sara and Les Raymond founded The Mindful Movement in August of 2016. They are passionate about helping others grow and live mindful, fulfilled lives. They have both experienced profound growth and fulfillment in living a mindful lifestyle. Together they help others live a more mindful life, deepening their awareness and sense of gratitude. They strive to inspire others to live authentically with love and abundance.