As I sat down to paste my writing into this email template, I completely erased it. All. Buh, Bye.
The funny part is...
If you read my last message, you may recall that over the last several weeks my family and I have been leaning into some big choices and encouraging each other to launch forward with greater and greater bravery.
I have taken on a new corporate client, Jed has taken on larger responsibilities at work, Maile has been jumping all-in at school in anticipation of college applications going out next year (academically, athletically, theatrically, and cinematically), and Griffin has chosen to change his school and soccer club for new development opportunities.
With big dreams on the line, we have been looking at all the ways to holistically support the healthy and happy future we all desire. One of the things that rose to the top of our discussions was the possibility of moving house.
Thus, on top of everything else, we have listed our home, accepted an offer on it, and are now gearing up for a move, all the while looking for our new home.
In my last post, I spoke about having certainty amidst uncertainty. I can candidly admit I have been sufficiently tested in this area!
All of this brings me to today's main share.
Can you imagine the scene when I realized I had deleted my whole message to you? (If not, picture a 2-year-old who just dropped her ice cream on the sidewalk.)
Luckily, what came next was a deep breath and an intentional response, allowing me to move forward in a much different way than if I had allowed myself to be caught, hook, line, and sinker, by the accidental deletion.
When something unexpected arises, it is natural to be tempted by the swirl of thoughts that ensue. For me, if I am not mindful, I can be swept away into a chaos of internal dialogue, competing thoughts, and the seemingly very real illusions of worry and fear.
After over 10 years of coaching experience, I now know I am not unique in this.
Our opportunity for growth lies in what we do with this information.
Viktor Frankl said, “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
This. 100%. All the way. Every time.
This space is what I refer to when I talk about coming back to center. It is the space of knowing, intention, and choice.
Throughout this most recent season, in which stressors have ratcheted up several notches, I finally connected the dots between my formal mediation practice (which has been lacking) and the practical application of meditation in everyday life (which has been constant).
Meditation is so much more of a practice than just sitting still for a designated number of minutes. For me, the primary gift of mediation is that "space," and the practice of continuously returning back to it (i.e. Center).
Formally, I sit, relax, and observe my breath. As thoughts come in, I allow myself to notice them, and then let them drift away by turning my attention from them back to my breath.
Breathe In. Breathe Out. What will I cook for dinner tonight? Oh, yeah, In. Out. In. Out. How will I handle xyz later? Oh, In. Out. In. Out. In. Out. Remember to call...In. Out. In. Out. In. Out. In. Out. In. Out…
It's OK to get pulled from the breath, the trick is to notice when it occurs and return to it.
This type of practice helps to calm the nervous system, dial down adrenal response, oxygenate the body, etc. All great news.
But wait, there's more! (said in enthusiastic infomercial voice)
The two key elements in this type of meditation are breath and returning to center. My big a-ha moment came when I first realized that learning to sit and continuously come back to breath, trained me not only to be able to sit longer, but to apply the same pattern in the world when life gets hairy.
In meditation, I am grounded in my breath. In life, I am grounded in my center, that space in which I know I can handle what comes next and have agency in how my story progresses, even when what comes along is out of my control.
If something throws me off, instead of totally spinning out, I can notice it, and return to center, which for me right now includes the acknowledgement that I am OK and everything will be OK, even if I cannot picture or anticipate each new twist and turn ahead.
I used to think I could only meditate when things were quiet, I had time to sit, or could find a time and space to be undisturbed. Now I know that I can return to my breath any time I want to gift myself space and redirect my intention and attention. In doing so, I remain rooted and flexible, without letting the world carry me away in its currents. This is available to you too, if you have not yet given a practice like this a go.
All this said, it is a simple, yet challenging moment to moment practice, for those willing to commit to it. Sometimes I think I have had enough and that it is too exhausting. Then, I ask myself what the alternative is and realize that it is always a choice and that going unconscious might seem like an easier approach sometimes, but in the end it does not lead to greater sanity, learning, or growth.
If you would like to learn how to apply this practice to your life, as well as receive guidance and support along the way, let's chat.
“To let go does not mean to get rid of. To let go means to let be. When we let be with compassion, things come and things go on their own.” – Jack Kornfield
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