How have you been weathering the changing seasons? I’ve been starting my mornings with tea temperature hot water, a teaspoon of local honey, a small slice of peeled ginger and big squeeze of fresh lime. I like lime more than lemon for this sweet, slightly tart and warming drink that helps to get you and everything else moving in the morning. Another nice way I’ve been keeping up my hydration by making making my own spa-inspired waters. You can do this too by combining 8-16oz filtered cold water, honey, a small slice or cube of ginger or lemongrass, a small slice of cucumber, a sprig of fresh mint or basil, and a small strawberry in a clear water bottle. So good for the senses and as pretty as it is refreshing!
After a slow start and a bumpy middle, I have finally found my writing flow. Some of you may remember that I’ve been working on this one for a while. It is a long held dream and I am so excited to be ready to share a small but sweet sample from the first chapter from my almost finished book, Two Minutes to Bliss: How to Reclaim the Power of your Attention and Create a Joy based Life!
Starting Where You Are and the Art of Kind Attention
Now that we have established the necessity of reclaiming the power of your attention by starting where with your thoughts about yourself and others (charity and peace really do begin at home), I want to share some of my real life experiences where this comes in really handy. One thing I know for sure is that there are no shortage of everyday ordinary and sometimes very trying opportunities to practice!
One of them that comes up frequently in my life and in the lives of anyone dealing with chronic illness, theirs or on behalf of a loved one, is dealing with medical bureaucracy. So to those of you who have survived your own gulag-like trials, and like me have spent hour after increasingly Kafkaesqe hour pinballing back and forth between long stretches of time on hold and those spent repeating the same answers to the same questions from a succession of different representatives who may or may not have amnesia and who then transfer you to a new department where you start all over again while you are still unfed and un-showered and wondering about your day job and how it can take 1/2 a day just to get a prescription that has already been authorized released to the pharmacy near the doctor’s office in time for your appointment, I bow in recognition and empathy! And I offer a few Bliss tips for dealing with the very human feelings of anxiety, frustration, and fear that can arise when you aren’t sure you’ll be able to receive the medical care or medicine you need. You can use these as well whenever you feel the natural anxieties that come up in your day-to-day.
Stand up and plant yourself. Literally bring all of your attention to the feeling of your feet on the ground beneath you. This is even better if you can do it with bare feet and have access to grass, sand, bamboo, or other natural ground cover. (If all you’ve got is concrete, laminate or carpet, of course it still works!) Next, pay attention to your posture. This is the most important thing you can do besides breathing to minimize tension in your body and mind.
Pay extra special attention to the area of your heart. Is it contracted and protected by forward slumping shoulders? Is it in a collapsed posture of defeat? Or is it lifted like a Sunflower to the Light? If your heart isn’t above the horizon, imagine there’s a string gently lifting you at your heart’s center. As you chest lifts and your shoulders naturally relax down and back imagine your heart being flooded with warm golden-pink light.
What about your breath? You might be unconsciously holding it. Is your jaw clenched and your neck tight? Let them soften. This begins naturally and instantaneously when we stop thinking and start feeling the sensations in our throat, jaw, face and hands, belly and brow, when we pay kind attention and simply sense what is already there, allowing our minds to let go of thinking, and our nervous systems to relax and release a soothing stream of healing hormones like oxytocin and dopamine and Gaba. .
Walk your talk. You don’t have to take things sitting down. You can use your time on hold to practice mindful walking just by paying attention to the feeling and sound of your feet rolling heel-to-toe in concert with your breath.Let some of the stress roll off your back with gentle neck stretches and breathing in as you turn left or right, and out as you move back slowly to center. Or find strength by putting your hands on your hips in Wonder Woman pose while you wait on hold. You can also practice chair and standing mountain with warrior arms to increase your stamina and patience.
Reassure yourself by putting a hand on your heart or your chest and then silently or out loud tell yourself that you’re doing a good job. Remember that you and everyone else are actually doing their best, and that you can’t control everything, let alone other people. Appeal to the person’s sense of humanity by being polite and expressing appreciation for their part in helping you get your needs met. Consider that their life may be even more difficult than yours. Praise yourself for taking charge of your attention and for applying it kindly when the inevitable challenges arise.
Above all, keep in your mind and heart what my mother (and maybe yours!) always said: this too shall pass, this too shall pass. And remember you really do have the power to find peace even in the midst of chaos by following any and all of the tips above.