I was having a tough time this morning — not enough sleep, a cranky two year old that was making me feel like a bad nanny, and a difficult email conversation — and feeling anxious and like I needed to do something to make myself feel better. I ran through all the things that I could do and they mostly involved trying to get other people to make me feel better. I am totally in favor of the phone a friend option, but somehow this didn’t feel right to me today. If I hadn’t been with the little one I might have considered chemical options (only the legal ones, don’t worry!) Then I remembered one of the biggest lessons from yoga and life: Observe your feelings without judging them. I took a deep breath (another of yoga’s big lessons) and said, This is how I feel, and it’s okay. Suddenly my heart rate slowed, the anxiety lifted, and I had my perspective back. Those stressful things were still happening, but they didn’t control or define my day anymore.
I started a practice a year or so ago, when I was struggling with some difficult memories, of breathing in deeply, and my in-breath represented full acceptance of myself and everyone else involved in the memories. As I breathed in I acknowledged that I had done my best, despite my mistakes and weaknesses, and everybody else had probably done their best too. The air expanded my lungs and made room to allow me to be who I was, and others in my past to be who they were. Then I exhaled, and that represented letting go of the pain and hurt, that had been done to me, and that I had done to others. Breathe in — accept. Breathe out — let go.
I try, also, to do the same thing with stress, anxiety, or feelings that are just too much. Breathe in — observe and accept. Breathe out — let go. I think this is similar to what Glennon Doyle Melton is expressing when she says, “Everything beautiful comes from our ability to sit still with our discomfort.” If we are brave enough to be quiet and not try to fix our feelings, or distract ourselves from them, or chase them away with a glass of wine or a pill, we might discover that they won’t actually destroy us. They probably will even have something to teach us.
Esther Ekhart has a wonderful explanation non-attachment. I’m not sure if you have to be a subscriber to watch the video, here is the link to it anyway. She says that true non-attachment doesn’t remove you from the world around you, but rather frees you up to fully engage with it.
The two year old is napping now, and will hopefully wake up less cranky. I’ll probably feel kind of crummy later since I’m not napping, but that’s okay. As long as I remember to breathe in and out I’ll be okay.