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Saving My Life Right Now: May
Something ancient, something new, something borrowed (nothing blue!)
Hey there, lovely friends!
How has your May been treating you so far? Or, should I say, how have you been treating your May so far?
Maybe more on that question later.
I’m here with 3 things that are saving my life right now in this Merry Month of (too) Much-ness. And I’m standing knee-deep in a puddle of appreciation for all three:
I appreciate any practice where the first step is—lie down. The literal translation of Yoga Nidra is the “yoga of sleep” and I’ve been practicing most weeks since the pandemic hit. I do not claim to be in any way an expert on this ancient practice, but here is the rundown on how I do it and how it saves me:
First, I calendar my Yoga Nidra. In fact, it’s the first thing I put on my calendar every week. Calendaring my rest before I calendar my “work” is my personal version of eating ice cream for dinner—psychologically satisfying and deviously decadent! On my app (Insight Timer), there are sessions as short as 8 minutes or as long as 45 minutes, but I’m usually doing 15-20 minutes as the end of my lunch hour.
That’s the time of day when I can be found sitting fuzzy-brained in front of the computer muttering, “I’ve got to do something. I should do something. I should get something done,” but getting precisely nothing done, so it’s a good time for a reset.
If I’m working at a school or out and about, I will sometimes sneak out to my car and do it with the doors locked and the seat rolled back. Today I’ll be doing it in the car line before my kid’s school gets out.
It’s also become part of my nightly sleep routine. Last night my brain was going gangbusters, but my body was exhausted, and I knew I needed rest. So, instead of staying up reading until my eyelids weighted themselves shut, I turned off my light, lay in my bed and started taking myself through the steps—awareness of sounds, awareness of breathing, a 60-point body scan starting with the right thumb. There’s more after that, but that’s usually more than enough to drift me off to sleep.
It’s an ancient, portable technology that completely resets my body, mind, and spirit. And it saves me on the regular.
The Feelings Machine
The Feelings Machine is something I imagined up in my mind that helps me heed the questionable advice chirpy therapists give to, “sit with your feelings.” First off, who wants to sit in ick? Second, feelings can seem really hard and scary. Running away feels sooo much more natural!
Enter the Feelings Machine, which is a less threatening, more “fun” way I’ve invented to process my feelings, and it has been saving my butt this week in particular.
Hello, glee, pride, sorrow, grief, terror, rage, confusion, and my trusty pal shame!
Yes, I’ve felt every emotion I can think of in this past week. Between my kids’ theatrical performances, a sad memorial for a shining light of a human that left this world much too soon, my modern-day-mom life running around organizing and remembering all the things, as well as a few rough interpersonal interactions, I can honestly say I covered the spectrum of the human experience this week!
I brought out my imaginary “Feelings Machine” to help me process the strongest of my negative feelings. Picture tubes and widgets and twisty handles and gauges and gaskets and steam with a large funnel on the top.
Here’s how it works: I take my feelings, the vibrations I feel in my body—their textures, their weight, their temperatures, their tightness, their pulsing—and I imagine feeding them slowly into the funnel at the top of the machine. Then I watch the vibrations percolate, making their way through the twists and turns of the machine.
The machine cannot process anything but vibrations, so, for the moment, I must completely drop any focus on what “caused” the feelings. I am not thinking about the situation, the words someone said, my stinging, ruminating thoughts about myself or anything else. I remain 100% focused on witnessing the vibrations as they pulse in my body and trickle their way through the course of the machine until, at last, maybe 2 or 3 minutes later, they’ve dissipated a bit, lost some of their intensity, and I’ve begun to regain some sort of equilibrium.
After my feelings have gone through the machine, I feel more equipped to take compassionate responsibility for them. They are, after all, mine to tend and somehow watching them go through the machine make them much easier to handle.
Y’all, here’s the hottest tip! Start using “Of course!” to start every other sentence in your life to see how it SAVES you. I’ll give a nod here to parenting educator Sonali Vongchusiri for this one. Her newsletter started me thinking about the energy of the phrase “Of course!” in response to a request or a feeling.
When you hear, “Of course!,” you hear acceptance. Abundance. Zero hints of scarcity or judgment.
I started to consider how I could offer some “Of course!” energy to myself, to feel more ease, more compassion, and less resistance in my days.
Of course I don’t want to get up and do the thing.
Of course I am upset about that email.
Of course I am wishing life (my kid, my schedule, the piles in my living room) could be different right now.
Of course I am feeling “overwhelmed.”
Of course I am annoyed at having to dress my 11 year-old kid to get him out the door in the morning.
Of course I am uncomfortable and uncertain.
Of course I am anxious that I’m failing, that I might not ever get it right.
Of course. Of course.
Of course I am human.
Of course I long to escape all of the suffering that being human encompasses.
Of course. Nothing has gone wrong.
And… of course, I can meet the challenges of May, or any month in any year, with an appreciation for the good and the wondrous.
Of course I can always offer grace and compassion to myself and to fellow fumblers along this miraculous slog of life.
Of course I am.
Of course I can.
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