I have always been the queen of distraction. I recently went to a silent meditation weekend retreat. I learned so many things about myself and others but this is perhaps the biggest lesson I learned: mindfulness. It's something we talk about but seldom actually do. Since going, I've become a little obsessed with the idea of trying to be fully present in each moment of my life. I've even finally broken out an audio book that I bought forever ago but just didn't feel the motivation to listen to. I actually highly recommend not just this book but their whole series. They're called "The Great Courses" and they feature top experts in their respective fields giving approximately 30 minute lectures. Most of these collections are very long. The one I'm listening to now, "The Science of Mindfulness" is almost 14 hours long so I'm guessing there's about 28 bite size lectures in all.
This book, along with journaling and overall self-awareness is helping me learn how to consistently pull myself back to the present. One thing (of many things) this helps with is anxiety, which is something I've always really struggled with. The great thing about being mindful and being present in the moment is that very few anxiety inducing things happen right in front of your face. Most happened in the past or you fear them happening in the future. Most moments are beautiful and peaceful when you remove your projected ideas of meaning (past or future) from them.
A perfect example of this happened just last night. Yesterday morning I woke up to my son (once again) in my bed. He felt very warm to the touch and was tossing and turning so I was unsure whether he was feverish or overheated. He woke up and said he was hot and his head hurt. My head hurt too. My allergies have been flaring up. So I gave him a homeopathic medicine we have for sinus issues and told him to go lay down in his bed. I decided to let him sleep until he woke up naturally again. I contacted all my clients and told them I was pretty sure he was sick and I was going to have to cancel. I arranged someone to watch him long enough for me to go grab some work and come back. I was in full-on mommy in crisis mode and I was rocking it. Then he woke up and he felt completely cool to the touch! He acted slightly lethargic but begged and pleaded to go to school because they were going on a field trip. I eventually gave in and took him to school late.
I was able to recover a couple of my canceled clients and, while I was training the first one, I received a snide voicemail from my son's teacher in which she said "he needs to come home now, the Tylenol is wearing off and his fever is going back up." I felt rage boil up inside of me. She was very obviously implying that I dosed my son with Tylenol to lower a fever so I could take him to school. I called back and defended myself and she, in her syrupy sweet voice, said "Welllll, I'm just going by what he tolllld me. He told me you gave him medicine." ....He actually told her I gave him "two marshmallows", which is what we call the homeopathic medicine for allergies. But that's neither here nor there. The fact that she was not so subtly accusing me of deception and neglect, not just of my child but of all the children there, was loud and clear.
It took me a while to get past that one but I was soon distracted with a very sick child. That's when I actually did dose him to get his fever down after it crept up from 99.7 to 103.4 within less than an hour. Finally it was under control and he was comfortable. That's when thoughts of the teacher's accusations snuck back into my head. I felt my blood start to boil again. I looked over at my son in my bed, watching tv peacefully.
I let go of my fear that he would get worse in the night. I let go of the anger toward this woman who, in the grand scheme of things, is an insignificant blip on the radar that is our lives and I even let go of the fact that I had probably already caught whatever this was that he had (yes, I'm a mom with a dose of selfishness). Instead, I wrapped my arms around my slightly warm little boy, buried my nose in his hair and truly experienced that precious moment with my most precious child. The room suddenly felt still and quiet. Weird? It had been so loud just a moment before. All that turmoil and chaos and noise had been right between my ears. In that moment there was nothing anxiety inducing. Only peace.
I have never been as in touch with my feelings as I am right now. Which is especially hard because I'm going through yet another break-up with my chronic on-again-off-again relationship and it would be SO easy to just put my head in the sand and think about and do other things. I could do what I've been great at doing in the past, running headfirst into my next relationship. But I'm not. Instead, I am sitting smack dab in the middle of the pain. And, amazingly, it's healing me. And it's healing me in the most beautiful way because it's a deliberate, heartfelt process instead of just the fading of memories which never truly works because the intellectual brain may forget but the body and the soul does not. Likewise, the times of joy are much sweeter when you live in mindfulness as well.
I recently re-listened to a Brene Brown TedTalk. The thing she says that echos through my head when I'm tempted to run is this: "you can not selectively dull emotions. If you dull one, you dull them all."
That's really profound if you think about it. And, on some level, we all already know it's true. The more I allow myself to collapse on my bed in gut wrenching sobs in those sad, dark moments, the more I find myself belly laughing with the people I love or feeling giddy feelings of awe at sunrises. It's all connected. There can be no light without darkness.