Thursday, November 17, 2011

Restoring calm, or a semblance thereof

Button, thread, afternoon light

I have, for the most part, stopped stressing about everything so much, rushing, anticipating the future and losing the present moment. Reframing is the magic word, turning chores and routines into meditation and enjoyment.

Take walking to get somewhere (as opposed to walking for the sake of walking - but really they shouldn't be that different): I used to rush, thinking of where I was heading. Going into town from work - which isn't even that far - I would walk briskly, forgetting to breathe properly, and wonder why I was exhausted upon arriving. Lately I have been focusing on my breathing, on the air, on sights and sounds and smells, and enjoying the walk, the journey. It makes such a difference.  I can still walk fast, thus getting some exercise out of it, and enjoy it for that. It doesn't leave me depleted as before.

I think I used to be this ball of tension and it drained the life out of me.


All those unfinished knitting projects that were everywhere in my house, with their threads hanging out physical reminders of the loose ends in my life right now, have been tamed. I always thought I disliked weaving in the ends. It seemed necessary but boring (I also thought I didn't really know how to do it - turns out there is no right way). When I finally set to work on it I actually found it quite enjoyable and the feeling of accomplishment almost stronger than while actually knitting - obviously because this is the point where it turns from a work-in-progress into a finished piece.

Similarly, I also used to put off mending clothes, sewing on buttons, etc. Now I find it therapeutic. [Although, I might have thought I was very mindful sewing on a button on Matt's jacket, but I totally managed to sew the pocket together in the process! Start again...]

The list goes on. I like tidying and cleaning because it restores some semblance of order and calm to my world, if only for a brief time before it has to be repeated. But there are certain chores that I used to dread at times. After dinner the pile of dishes in the sink can look a bit daunting, especially if you feel you could go to sleep. I reframed it in my mind - it gives me the opportunity to stand and move after sitting at the table and makes me feel more energetic. Now I get up and just do the dishes. And then they're done. Easy. And while I do them I focus on the task and it becomes a meditation.

Apparently, for unemployed people small things like going to the post office can become a huge chore. I am like that sometimes (though luckily not unemployed): when I have a lot of free, unstructured time, the small things just grow. Whereas during busy times I get into a rhythm of just getting on with stuff. I am trying to approach everything in this way all the time now, incorporating whatever comes up into the flow of my days. After all things big and small all make up the rhythm of our lives.

Obviously there are still moments  when I get stressed, tasks I dread, and situations I find difficult to navigate or enjoy, and I don't go around with a constant Zen-like smile on my face, but on the whole my life has become so much easier since I started focusing on what I am doing in the moment and seeing the beauty in everything. 

Life mostly isn't ordered and calm; it is chaotic and unpredictable, and that makes it so exciting, but it is good to know, especially for an anxiety-plagued person like me, that certain areas can be made somewhat calmer and more ordered and thus replenish our energy, making it easier to face life's struggles and turmoil.

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