03 March 2012

Finding peace by facing difficult feelings

I am having what I'll call a "transformative" day, so this post will be more reflective than the one I originally planned--I hope you will still enjoy it and take something away from it.

I was mid-nightmare when the chime of my Zen alarm clock went off this morning, dreaming I was screaming "fuck you" to some imaginary neighbors back in Pennsylvania who let my cat out of the house and were unapologetic to say the least. I kept sleeping through the second chime, until my conscious brain kicked in and asked, "do you really want to stay in this dream you're having?" So I got up and did my usual routine--which lately includes a mind-racing, snot-filled tissue festival one might call a morning meditation. Since I was going to Gail's beginning Ashtanga class at EarthSong Yoga, I started and finished what I thought was a full draft of this weekend's blog post instead of doing yoga. Feeling productive but late around seven o'clock, I went downstairs and made my hot cardamom and cashew milk and plate of cashews and mango bits for breakfast.

I pretty mindlessly drank the milk, though on some level I still realized how wonderful it tasted and how my stomach gurgled gently in response to it. But for the most part, I was playing around with my iPhone--checking email, Facebook, and so on. Realizing this, I put down the phone and vowed to me more attentive to my cashews and mango. But the trend continued, and I noticed I was still eating too fast. Then a thought came into my mind: should I eat a Budi Bar instead of the cashews? After all, there were already cashews in the milk, and my husband could always eat extra cashews when I moved to eating off the "Spring" grocery list tomorrow. Yes, I decided.

Once I made this decision, I found it even more difficult to sit still. I had an overwhelming urge to get up, put the cashews back, and pull out the Budi Bar. "Antsy" doesn't begin to describe it! I thought about some feedback I'd gotten at work about taking more time to consider all input before acting, and my husband's recent comments about me being somewhat impulsive. "What makes me want to do the trade right this second? Why can't I wait?" I asked myself. "Why do I have this arbitrary now in my body so strongly?"

I breathed and tried to get in touch with my underlying feelings--meaning the ones below that blanket "anxious" label. I sat, confused. "What is it?" I asked patiently. Nothing. "Wait for it," I told myself. "The answer will come." Then the real feeling came very clearly: it was fear.

"I'm afraid", I told myself. "If I don't act now, when I'm told what to do, dad will hurt me very badly." Ah. What was once so elusive was now so obvious. My dad is yelling at me, telling me what to do. And I'd better do it RIGHT NOW, or else suffer unimaginable consequences. Content, I felt a small smile spread across my lips. Yes, that was the right answer.

Feeling extremely centered and balanced, I finished my breakfast and carried this feeling through Gail's yoga class. I completely lost myself in the flow, and experienced some new openings in poses like shoulderstand. After class I drove home with that same sense of peace surrounding me, carrying it through a trip to Home Depot in the rain, through some household chores, and a mindful lunch of Slow-Cooker Lamb, Apricot, and Olive Tagine (which is amazing by the way).

When my bowl was empty, I quietly watched as the rain fell at a swift angle, in stark contrast to everything else I could see outside my window--rocks, snow, trees, and fence--all of which were perfectly still, like one who was able to get in touch with a difficult emotion and survive. In other words, like me.

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