Time is on your side when you are present

It’s when I’m in a rush that I break a glass and then have to take another 5 minutes to clean it up. Or I forget something I really need.

It’s when I’m multi-tasking that I don’t absorb the fullness of what I am doing, reading, or listening to while trying to save time. What I miss doesn’t allow me the full experience, causing me to have essentially wasted my time (and that of others) in the experience because I’ve missed the real connection to offer back a real reply. Multi-tasking also causes cooking to become a chore and burning food to become a thing.

When I am present, my work is much more efficient because I have the clarity of a small child negotiating for something. The adult with a harried mind doesn’t have a chance at winning. And when I look up at the time once I’m done with my work, it’s always surprising how little time it took to get it done. But only when I am present. And it’s always better work.

One of my beloved teachers once told me, “the short cut’s the long cut. The long cut’s the short cut.” With the short cut, you eventually have to go back to pick up what you’ve missed; that travel time is extra time required, not just to go back there but to put the pieces back together.

Deciding to be present is a practice in self-discipline and boundaries. It requires setting up uninterrupted time, saying no or later, and delving fully into the work. When this happens, whatever the work is, it is enjoyable because you will have brought divinity to even the most mundane. If you are multi-tasking the thought, “I don’t want to be doing this, I’d rather be doing that,” that’s not being present and it becomes a chore. If you surrender to the work, the work itself, and that moment, becomes Divine.

Try it.

The danger of the story

  1. You get stuck in that belief.
  2. It’s an old story, and also it could be wrong.

I don’t know how often my mom told me some version of “You can’t do this.” It could have been twice. It could have been 200 times.

It might as well have been 200 times, because I took it in and held on to it for a very long time, causing a tremendous amount of self-doubt.

When my daughter was around kindergarten age, we were briefly stopping over at my mom’s, and I don’t remember what it was about, but I had shared with her my daughter’s accomplishment.

My mom smiled, and she said, “she can’t do that,” half speaking to my daughter.

I suddenly felt a mixture of knowing that she is totally kidding to “Oh my God!” to “Mom, you can’t say that to children. They don’t get those kinds of jokes.”

I saw that this was a part of how she communicated, and I could see that she was proud of my daughter. And also, I had an immediate gut knowing that this is how she spoke to me as a child, and I didn’t get the challenge back then. It’s as if she expects the child to lift up her chest and say, “Oh, yes I can!” And then show it.

The other part of this incident with my daughter is that I realized that if I weren’t fully present in the moment to pick up on my mom’s subtleties, and if I was busily multi-tasking our brief visit to pick something up, I could have missed the whole opportunity. I would have been triggered by my mom’s words and have taken them the way I received them as a child, and I might have said something out of anger (and she would have had no idea where it came from), or I might have said to myself, she’s not seeing my daughter again.

Instead, I got that she loved my daughter, was doing what she thought was playful, and it was an opportunity for me to correct a few things lovingly “Of course she can! Madie, tell us…” Then: “Look, Mom, children take things literally. She won’t get your joke or challenge. Please don’t say things like that to her.”

It was a good lesson for me, which I think about to this day as I look at my 21 year old daughter and think to myself, “I don’t know what my story was, but it wasn’t what I thought, and thank God.”

Breathe first. Then continue to breathe as you feel your emotion.

Otherwise you’re in danger of turning your emotion into commotion.

Rather than taking a deep breath in reaction to your commotion, take deep breaths for the sake of taking deep breaths, using the emotion as a reminder to breath. It helps to close your eyes if that’s possible.

Slow down and find the gentle, soothing breath. There will be a dramatic difference in the quality of how it serves you. This isn’t to replace your emotions but to serve them in the best way possible. Take in the vital life force you need to be fully present to your experiences (versus being fully “present” to creating the story around your feelings), giving you the ability to create from a more tolerant and equitable place rather than to get sucked into the vortex and into the commotion. The resistance is in the addiction to feeling the righteousness and preserving the identity as your ego knows itself. You are more than that. You are stronger than that. Ask yourself how giving in serves you, and then own where you go with it.

Connection to your breath is connection to your vital life force and the bridge to your soul, which is connection to your most honest self. We are blessed to have such a powerful tool to navigate our inner world (which presents itself to the outer world) and so many reminders in our day to connect with it. May we use it to know what to do next.

Can one person be everything?

I was talking to a friend who shared that it seems unfair to expect in one person that they be the significant other/ lover, best friend, financial partner, emotional support, secret keeper of all things, housework partner, inspiration… the person to share bad news with, good news with, all your challenges, who listens when you need to be heard and talks when you need solutions or words of inspiration, holds space when you want them to, and distracts you with pleasures when you need that instead. To want to eat what you want to eat and believe in what you believe in.

That’s what we seem to fantasize.

We might consider if it’s a fair expectation that one’s lover should also be one’s best friend. My friend pointed out that there was a time in history that one would have a significant other and a different best friend.

What do you think?

I think that if someone expected all of that in me, it would be an unfair burden. I would feel set up for failure.

As I listened, I realized that my default is to turn to myself first. To sit in the celebration or the failure first, listen, feel, breathe, clear my mind of all the noise around them. I feel quite content to celebrate internally first– it’s a sacred moment really– before I pick up the phone to externalize. I feel more grounded when I first allow myself to settle in to the perceived hardship myself, to know what my internal compass is saying first, before I let the words come out and have to sort through another person’s opinions. Where I often feel the need to adjust is in knowing how long to stay there before I consciously choose who to share with or ask for support.

What do you do?

When it all happens at once

I have a guest at my house for the next few days. He is here to consult with our clients today and to give a 2-day workshop this coming weekend.

I wake up this morning and my thermostat reads 59°F. I have to get someone here to fix the heater.

My 17 year old son’s car isn’t working. It isn’t the battery or the alternator. The power is definitely draining the battery, but the auto shop can’t figure out where it’s coming from. They’ve had the car for 3 days. My son needs to be at off-ice hockey practice right after school, then to Actor’s Gym, then to on-ice hockey practice, back to back to back as each thing overlaps just a little bit.

I have places to go, errands to run, people to see.

No time to worry, get anxious, or freak out. Time to use one of the 5 Sutras of the Aquarian Age: when the time is on you, start, and the pressure will be off. 
Start.

I turned on the oven to heat up the kitchen and did a shorter version of my morning bathroom routine.
I finished my meditations. All of them. This was not the place to cut anything.
I went through a shorter physical exercise routine. I know where to cut and where not to.
I reached out to everyone involved to get the heater fixed. They’re on it.
I reached out to my boyfriend who’s day is also altered by my day’s alterations.
I started making breakfast, lunch, and dinner, using 2 burners and a hot water kettle. This takes an hour.
My guest is still asleep.
My son gets a ride to school, thank God (but I was totally prepared to take him just in case).
I eat breakfast.
I blog (here I am).
I will walk the dog in a moment and take a moment before ironing out the rest of the day. I’ll talk to my boyfriend to help talk it through (I am not alone), and also find out when to expect the heater guys.

This is life. I’m prepared for it.

It’s not our emotions to a specific event that hook us, so go ahead and feel them.

A client of mine recently shared her reluctance to feel her emotions because she is afraid she won’t be able to pull herself out of them.

But what we get hooked on is the emotions around the story that follows.

The primary emotion around the actual honest event – which doesn’t have an addictive quality but rather a healing one – then gets stuck; it has nowhere to move but into our tissues and our energy centers, blocking the natural flow and creating dis-ease. We then replay the stories, which aren’t events at all. We replay them, experiencing the secondary, addictive emotions over and over again. We hook ourselves and others with those stories, creating the perfect drama to craft our false identities and stories of the world around us.

A child gets hit by another child for a toy. It hurts. She cries literally until it stops hurting. It’s not long actually, if you’ve ever witnessed this on a playground. When she’s done, the two children often go back to playing together, and the incident is over; all is forgiven.

Then one day, when the child gets old enough, she stops crying when she gets hit, but she still hurts. She builds an elaborate story of name-calling, blame, shame, and justification around it, and she begins to carry the weight that comes with imposing a somewhat permanent quality on the other person as well as about herself and the world around her, guaranteed to impact how she experiences future events with the continuous replay of her imagined past “truths”.

We do it all day. And we pass this sort of storytelling on to our children. Let’s break this cycle, for ourselves and for them.

So instead, go ahead and feel the emotions to the actual event, in real time. This doesn’t mean to react and lash out. It means to feel it through honestly. Stop the storytelling on its tracks. Because then you can move through the hurt, the sadness, the frustrations, and the fear, giving you a real chance at clarity, at relationships with yourself and with others, and at a more joyful life.

Consider how much of you you keep to yourself

Consider how much you don’t share.

And how much that must dictate how you show up and how treat yourself and others.

What’s kept internally for ceaseless rumination grows much worse than the actual truth. In fact, one has to question if those stories are true at all. Consider the level of suffering this might cause.

When you find yourself not approving of, or feeling triggered by, the way others show up, offer them the same consideration. Everyone has a story. Everyone is too afraid to be vulnerable.

Everyone with their own stories in their own head, real communication replaced by assumptive treatment that contains some mixture of bravado, passive aggression, avoidance, and armoring creates a lot of hurt when it’s quite likely we all really truly like each other more than we can ever imagine.