There were days this August when I felt like a plate spinner from some circus act. My list of "To Do" items felt more and more like "Must Do" demands; all of which had major repercussions if not completed now. All areas of my life required a fully present Sandy, which made me want to try even harder to do my best; spinning hundreds of plates in the air, hoping to keep them all from crashing. Somewhere amongst the juggling and extra exerted effort, a flash of insight came to me. I've been here before. Many times throughout my adult life, actually. And I know what this feeling creates.
I've learned to recognize my behavior patterns of over-doing, over-striving, and over-stressing, At first, I feel productive. But then external pressures build and I go into overdrive. It's the typical fight/flight reaction I have when I perceive the situation as threatening. Even though recognizing my tendencies is a good first start, I need to know what to do to break the cycle, create a new set of neural pathways in my thinking brain and feeling body, and move into a new state of being. So, how do I get there?
You probably think I'm going to say MEDITATE and you would be partly correct. Why partly? Because, when I'm in this overdrive mode, the last thing I want to do is put one more to-do on my list. I know meditation will help. However, the hour or more I spend practicing feels like one more plate in the air. I need something that acts like a pause button to my routine; something quick yet effective.
I have a list of these instant pause buttons, including: breath exercises, taking two minutes to dance like no one is watching, singing at the top of my lungs, calling a friend and telling them something amazing about what they mean to me, using aromatherapy with essential oils, making a gratitude list....just to name a few.
Here's the magical thing about this pause button - it disrupts the normal wiring and firing of my stress mode and allows me to stop, reflect, and then step into something new, like meditating on the unlimited universe supporting me. If pausing is the first step and meditating on the infinite is the second, then there's a third step that really helps me make the shift and put the spinning plates down. While I'm in my meditation practice, I focus only on one thought. If my mind wanders, I notice it; feel it; and drop it so I can return to my original awareness point. There are days I find myself laughing out loud at how often my mind wanders. But, each time I say, "drop it," and I'm able to come back to the here and now. If I do this over and over again, I train a new set of neural pathways that wire together and form a new habit.
By the time I finish meditating, my perspective has changed and my to-do list doesn't feel like an impossible circus act. The day feels open to all sorts of possibilities and I now have creative energy to solve any problem. I enter my work day with a sense of play, curiosity, and inspiration.
Full disclosure - this new state of being doesn't happen for me consistently, mainly because I fall asleep at the wheel sometimes. I let demands and stressful thoughts rule my emotional state. I start thinking I can do this all by my small egoistic self instead of connecting with the energy around me, my inner wisdom, my community, and my family/friends. But, when I do catch myself trying to be the one-woman show, I press pause, get to my meditation chair, and rewire my inner terrain.
What are the pause buttons you use before meditation practice? I'd love to hear your ideas. Comment below and share your inspiration.