Saturday, June 27, 2015

How to Be Present

While we were on vacation last week, something exciting happened. It might not be that exciting to the average person, but for me (living with fatigue and the short fuse it tries to bring with it), it was a breakthrough. Bascially, I did something, got more information, and had to undo it, knowing I'd have to redo it in a few minutes. This happens to all of us regularly and often we adjust quickly, thinking very little about it. For me, because actions take precious energy, redoing this action means I won't have energy for one other thing I wanted to do today. Because I'm not always okay with this, I have a frustrated, "Gahh!" reaction. I'm hyper aware of my finite amount of energy since it's considerably less than I've been used to my whole life. 

The point is, when that happened during my vacation I thought, "No biggy." 

No biggy! 

Because we weren't rushed. Because we didn't have a deadline. Because no one was waiting for me or counting on me or needing me. What a gift. 

Another gift was what my yoga teacher said the morning before we left. I rolled out of bed at 5:30 because I knew I'd struggle with packing and getting on our way. Packing gets so complicated (even with my pre-printed list) I've had a panic attack before our last two trips. Yes, I have. Calm, collected wanna-be me, had a meltdown over packing. 

But back to what my teacher said. Before we began practice, she said, "Choose to be present. Even when it's hard, stay in your body and feel the sensations. You are strong." 

You see, when I had my panic attacks I knew I needed to get grounded. One way is to stretch out on the floor and feel the earth supporting you. Being grounded means living inside your body, which a lot of us have disassociated from because of body image frustrations or abuse or whatnot. Consciously inhabiting our selves doesn't come naturally anymore, so we have to be deliberate about it. 

If you're wondering why should I care? What difference does it make if I've held my body at a disapproving distance? Well, a while ago I realized I was missing my life in all its joy because I was almost never present. Being present is a buzz word right now, and we all think it's important - a worthy goal, but most of us still don't know how to get there. When I started this blog, we were doing a No Spend month and I got my first taste of being present. The simplicity of not contemplating purchases left a space and in that space, I started to catch moments of simple joy in the present. I felt appreciation for simply being in my body, listening to my daughter laugh and seeing her smile. I told myself, "This is it! This is the joy people say is possible!" But that came and went and I've struggled to feel that regularly ever since. Yesterday I realized being grounded is the secret. 

It sounds easy - just feel what's happening inside us and around us, but we're in the habit of doing the opposite. If we don't like what's going on, in a workout/waiting in line, we space out or daydream to "get through it." It's a legit defense mechanism when something traumatic is occurring, but we've made it a crutch and since it's our M.O., we've started missing everything. I have another yoga teacher that tells us (as our limbs are shaking and sweat is dripping, "You are okay." Stay in your body. Feel the sensations. You are not so weak you have to run from what's happening. You're strong enough to stay.

I told myself this through my practice and when I was packing all morning without Brian, with kids. I kept telling myself, "Stay here. Make the decisions you need to make. Keep working. You are strong enough." Because a panic attack is checking out too. It's an out-of-body swirling that feels out of control and scary, but the moment before you go there, you think it has to be better than this being here, inside your body. And my last intelligible thought is always, "I can't handle this." 

So yesterday I stayed. It amazed me that it was possible. Instead of getting in the car and immediately napping to "sleep it off," I chatted with Brian. It didn't make packing while the kids asked me a hundred questions fun or special, but it made it safe. I was okay. Even strong. I'm super proud of me. : ) 

And so hopeful for the future. I have staying power. Who knew?

And if I do, you do too. 

1 comment:

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