I’ve been thinking about feeling stuck lately. We all have those moments when we’re waiting on something to change. Maybe we aren’t ready to make the change, or someone else isn’t ready, but either way, we have great ways to cope: we buy something nice for ourselves, maybe we get a tattoo, or we take a little vacation somewhere. As a woman, I have a multitude of little cosmetic changes I can make to pacify that feeling: I can change my hair, get a mani-pedi, or buy a new dress. People redesign rooms in their homes, or move to a completely different one, or buy a new car. Now I’m not saying any of those aren’t nice things to do just because you want to, but there is a specific desperation to these activities when we are avoiding a big change by making a smaller, more temporary one.
How do we identify whether we just really want that new gadget because it’s fun, or if we’re seeking some sort of greater fulfillment from the newness of it? There are a few surefire ways to identify whether we are treating ourselves or running from a bigger issue. Take a good look at your in-the-moment, impulsive desire and ask yourself a few questions:
- Do you feel like you HAVE to have it, or your whole day is ruined?
- If so, you are probably using it as a substitute
- Do you need an excuse to buy it?
- If so, is it because you know you don’t really need it?
- How long is this thing going to make you feel like a new person?
- Sometimes a treat is nice, but if you’re craving “new person,” ask yourself if the thing you’re craving is *really* going to make you feel that way after the first week, month or year.
If you answer these questions honestly, you may find that the long-term gain of that short-term desire is so small you no longer feel like it’s worth it right now. You may also find that you just want something nice or different and you have the money for it, and that’s fine. But the first question in particular is important – that desperation for something superficial is usually an indication that we NEED something much deeper. How do we figure THAT out?
First of all, if we’re to the point of restlessness/needful shopping/upending our household, we usually already know there is something amiss. And I would venture to guess most of us already know what it is that is causing the feeling. But change is scary for everyone: ourselves, our significant others, our friends and family members. No one wants to upset that many people (especially all at once)! Maybe we know the problem, but it doesn’t seem like something we can change.
For now, that’s ok. Just acknowledge that there is something a little uncomfortable about being stuck. Learn to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. Big life changes are ALWAYS uncomfortable until they become routine. Next week, I’ll talk about how to figure out your stuck place and make changes that will make you happier long term!
Meditation: EEK! or OM?
Image courtesy of tiverylucky / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
I SUCK at meditation. Seriously. I always have. My brain just doesn’t work that way. When I close my eyes, it’s either to sleep or to plan better, not to find peace. And even when I TRY to meditate, it usually doesn’t work out so well. That has actually been a benefit to hooping for me – by moving my body, I can clear my mind for a bit. So imagine my surprise when I realized the other day that I had a, well, what do you even call it? A space in my mind that’s completely peaceful? Is that even possible for me?
It started simply enough: I read something somewhere that if we take a few minutes each morning without any distractions, we can be more productive. The article actually suggested meditation, but since I’m rotten at meditation, I figured a few minutes in bed before reading the news, before checking messages or email, before my coffee or tea would suffice. So I’ve been doing that for about 9 months now. Our cat Mari owns our bed; she caught on quickly and she helps – she will sit on my stomach and purr and insist that I scratch her face while I’m lying there in bed. The rhythm of my breathing and the purring and scratching her face definitely made me more peaceful, and after a few weeks of this routine, I found myself…kind of…drifting. Sometimes I would daydream or go over my day in my head, but every once in awhile, I would just … be. Not asleep, but not awake, there on the bed in my home, but not feeling THAT so much as… being HERE, at home in my mind. Huh. So that’s what they meant.
Anyway, it worked. On the days I would be able to get to that space, and back, I would get a lot done. Even if I couldn’t quite let go, I would still start my day feeling kind of peaceful, so I kept doing it. I didn’t really think much of it until one night, a few weeks ago, I had trouble falling asleep. It was the typical thing: I just couldn’t shut my brain off. For some reason, I decided to see if I could find that peaceful place from my mornings. I closed my eyes, and I noticed something familiar: there is a specific thing I see when I reach that place in the mornings – it’s kind of an amorphous curtain of dots for me, but I’m sure someone experienced in these things could describe it better. Anyway, on that night, I found my amorphous-dot-curtain. I only stayed awake long enough to connect what I was seeing to my morning routine, and then I fell asleep and slept like a baby all night.
Over the past couple of weeks, with some work, I’ve been able to consciously find the amorphous-dot-curtain and use it to slow down my mind whenever I need it. I’m not successful all the time, and I certainly can’t stay in that state for very long before my conscious mind (or my phone, or the dog) brings me back, but whoa! I friggin learned how to meditate! Workaholic, Anxious, Emotional Me can get inner peace, on command, for, like, 30 entire seconds at a time!
So believe me when I tell you: You CAN do this thing, and it really, really, REALLY helps. Here is how:
1) Commit to 5 minutes a day. I like the morning because I wake up really slowly, so this kind of helps that transition for me. I set my alarm on my phone with a really unobtrusive sound just in case I fall asleep. But if you need a wind-down routine, try it at night when you get into bed. That way if you fall asleep, you’re already right there!
2) Allow yourself to feel stupid or silly, lying there with your eyes closed. It’s pretty silly and useless by most of our standards, and that’s okay. It’s going to feel silly for awhile, just lying there awake with your eyes closed. You can use music if you want. I personally can’t because of my musical and audio training… focus TOO much on the music and the sound. But if you do, it should be dreamy. Whatever that means to you.
4) This one is pretty standard: focus on your breathing and/or senses as they take in information, but don’t give any of it meaning. I live in an old, noisy apartment in a busy suburban area, so the creaks and groans of the building, the upstairs neighbors, the traffic outside are all just a part of it. I try to let myself hear them but not imagine what they are connected to. They’re just sounds.
5) Don’t try to accomplish anything. Whatever your brain is going to do, it will do. Just try to allow the thoughts, visions, sounds, feelings to come into your head without thinking about what they mean.
6) Do it every day. More importantly, if you skip a day, don’t sweat it – it’s not like a diet or anything. Think of it more like a hobby – a diversion that’s just for your brain! But, ya know, the more consistent you are, the easier it is.
7) That’s it. Just try it! What happens for you probably won’t be what happens for me, so there’s no goal and no expectation.
If you already meditate and you have some more suggestions, email me or leave your comments on Facebook. If you learn anything from my suggestions, and you feel like you want to share, I would love to hear from you!