is for Xanadu
The perfect place.
The word “perfect” doesn’t scare me. Using it doesn’t set me up for unrealistic expectations even with my perfectionist tendencies. I think it scares other people more than me because I find that people like to remind me “nothing’s perfect” or “perfection is overrated” as a way to comfort me when I use the word, you know, just in case. I don’t know why they feel the need to protect me, but I’m not even sure I completely agree that “nothing’s perfect.”
I learned about an exercise a year ago to help me visualize better and feel better. I close my eyes and try to experience how it would feel in everything in my life were perfect—and yes that is the word that was used “perfect.” If you know to whom to credit this exercise to, please let me know.
It’s a surprisingly easy and relaxing thing to do—to imagine how perfect feels. The key is the feeling of perfection not the seeing of perfection.
I did this for a few days—stopped—life got in the way—shitty—and I neglected my perfect. Then one morning after I sent my daughter off to school, and the silence was screaming at me, and I was beating myself up for being taken advantage of, humiliated, or betrayed—take your pick—I decided I needed to sit and feel perfection for awhile.
I sat down, closed my eyes, and let out a big sigh. As I was sitting there imagining the feeling of a perfect life I had an epiphany—the perfection I was feeling was the way I felt about my life right now. I am living a perfect life. My eyes popped open and I was smiling—my life is perfect right now—wow.
Perfection was a feeling--not the tiny house I rent, or the temporary feelings of sadness I had, or the balance in my bank account. It wasn’t the weather, the city where I live, the chipped china plates, nail polish stains in the sink, broken floor tiles, or muddy dog prints on my floor. I am in the middle of having a perfect life and it feels like peace.
The circumstances I find myself in will come and go and waiting for the perfect life isn’t necessary at all. It took me awhile but I get it—it’s not a place; it’s a feeling, and if I can tap into that feeling every now and again to remind me, then I get to experience perfection right now. I get to set down the hurt and anger and realize how great I have it right now—muddy dogs and all.
is for Meditate
Ugh. Oh how I wish I could do it “right.” I know that’s silly because to put rules on something so wonderful as taking a moment to feel still defeats the whole purpose of feeling still. So…stop putting rules on it.
I don’t want to offend any Masters of Meditation here with my technique (if you can call it that) but if you’re anything like me—a beginner and a perfectionist—then the mere fact that you’re “not doing it right” makes you stop all together and walk away (for years possibly) because you would rather not try at all than to fail. There. I said it. That is me in a nutshell.
I have decided that mindset is effing stupid. In celebration of my decision I have once again picked up my practice of sitting still and listening to my breathing. Guess how many days I did it last week…two. Yes, it makes me sad that I didn’t do it every day. The week before I reached three days, and the week before I went back to work I hit six days! So it may look like I’m getting worse but I’m really just figuring out my new schedule.
My goals are 10-20 minute “sits” four days a week for now. I typically do it in the morning during the time before I need to make sure my daughter is up for school, but after I shower and have some coffee. I sit on my bed, lean against my pillow against the wall, eyes usually closed, trying to be straight, cross my legs—sometimes—hands in my lap or on my knees. I take a big breath and let out a huge sigh. This gets me started because my ability to hear that giant sigh reminds me to stop listening to my crazy mind talk. I listen to my breathing as long as I can still hear it before my mind starts talking again which might be 5 seconds or it might be 20. Then when I realize I’m “talking” again I switch over to “saying” In…Out…In…Out…alongside my breathing until that gets boring, and then I try listening to my breathing again. That works for a bit then I’m back to In and Out all over again.
This process goes on until I scream inside and my eyes pop open. I usually laugh and try not to beat myself up about it. Some is always more than none.
Sometimes I try again at night when I’m lying down getting ready for bed. It even puts me to sleep occasionally so I don’t know if I can really count that as meditation, but I’m not following rules anymore right?
Good luck everyone. I hope your moments of sitting quietly can pull your stay pieces all back to center and give you a sturdy start to your day!
Is For Breathe
Take a deep breath. Fill your belly. If you can’t feel your stomach expand then you have to lie back down in bed. On your back you can’t help but fill your diaphragm.
Hold it. Hold it for maybe 3 or 4 “Mississippi’s.” Let it out slowly.
Repeat. Breathe in and fill that belly. Hold it. Let it out slowly.
Now you are allowed to get out of bed, or move from the couch, office chair, or room.
My chest and belly can get so tight sometimes that there are moments where I catch myself actually holding my breath! Let the air flow through you today, hold on to none of it in a nervous anxious way.
When you breathe like this you are giving yourself a moment of power in a world where so many things leave you feeling powerless! Controlling your breath in a world, or day, or moment when you feel nothing is under control can grant you a peaceful moment. Permit yourself that peaceful powerful moment.
As you move throughout your day natural transitions will occur: rising from the table/desk, heading off to a meeting, heading off to the bathroom, turning off the T.V. before heading to bed, preparing your child for a nap, preparing to take your child to the library, on and on and on. Before you transition from one event to the next take a moment and breathe in and out two times while you pay attention to those two breaths. I don’t ask that you clear your mind and try to not think, go ahead think about what it is you are transitioning to or from, but see if you can fill your belly two times before heading into the next thing.
If you miss a transition moment, so what? If you get in four deep breathing transitions today that is probably four more than yesterday, so Rock On!
Try saying this at your next transition: “I will take these breaths. They are mine to enjoy.”