With so many things happening in the world, from the tragic loss of firefighters in Arizona to Egyptian unrest (leading to even more violence) to the overturning of DOMA and to the continual fight for a woman to control her body (right now in Texas), I’ve been a bit overwhelmed these last couple of days.
Usually I take comfort from living in Santa Cruz, a sleepy little beach town where people truly embrace mellow as a way of life. Well, perhaps I’m wrong. The fact is, my small town is really a big town of 50,000+ residents, has a thriving UC campus, and is a go-to local tourist destination for all the folks living in Silicon Valley. Regardless though, I live in an ideal environment where locals are really very mellow, kind, and generous.
Yesterday was different though. With my mind full of world and national events, the following all happened around me: while on my way to a meeting I heard, then saw, a fender bender right next to me. I then saw a biker riding parallel to a van’s (on the left side!) all the while yelling at each other in anger. Then a car completely ignored a stop sign and pulled out right in front of me. Whoa.
*note: if there is some weird planet alignment happening right now, I expect someone to tell me about it in the comment section.
There was a time in my life that this sensory overload would shut me down. I would distract myself with food, alcohol, television, or be so completely moody that even my cats would run away from me. I did whatever was available to not feel fear, discomfort, panic, sadness, disbelief, frustration…anything to not feel “so much.”
Yesterday was different though. I didn’t try to ignore my overwhelm like I used to. Instead, I acknowledged the craziness of life and focused on being in the present moment which allowed me to be calm and at peace in the midst of chaos. Here are some practices that I’ve learned help calm the “crazy.”
I put my freaking phone down. ‘Nuff said.
Where did all these butterflies, mockingbirds, and hummingbirds in my back yard come from? Yup, nature is one of the easiest things that grounds me to the present. Go outside! Go for a walk, go for a jog, eat lunch in a park, play in the dirt (aka garden or pull weeds), and if anything, simply look up and notice the clouds.
There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t say mis benediciones (de gratitud, de salud, de trabajo, o de mi familia). Benediciones are prayers or blessings around little things that I originally learned from my mom. It is through my gratitude that I find the most happiness and peace.
The most wonderful and simple way to remain calm and balanced during tense times is to be conscious of your breathing. I encourage you to also try deep breathing meditation (Dr. Weill’s 3 breathing exercises) or simply slow down, take a moment and breathe deeply for about a minute. Fo’reals it works!
What you are willing to practice this week? I’d love to hear what you try and how it goes.