Calgon take me away!
How many times did I hear that commercial growing up? The idea was that if a person uttered this phrase, they would magically be taken away from all craziness of life. The screaming children, the yelling partner, the dinner that was needing to be made, the house that was a mess, the report that was late, the boss that was not pleased, and so on. A modern day version of this is for the mother or parent to say they need a “time out.” However you phrase it, the sentiment is the same: I need a break!!!!! I need to get away. I need a vacation. THIS is not acceptable.
The subtext commentary might be: “there is something about my experience that is just too difficult, too uncomfortable, and/or too unmanageable, and I want it to change, NOW.” Or, in short, “can I please just trade in this discomfort for some peace?”
My daughter and I just spent a week at my parents. On the drive home, I realized something quite odd: that what I’d experienced this past week was an internal retreat of sorts. Wait, WHAT?!?!? A retreat, while at my parents? Don’t get me wrong, my parents and I have been on good terms for over a decade, but we view the universe quite differently. How could it be possible, to drive away feeling rejuvenated and refreshed, expansive and nourished? After eating a week of non organic/local meat and vegetables? In their suburban colonial home? With an absurd case of poison ivy and meds that kept me from having even one good night sleep? Ok, so let’s just say straight off that this was no typical sanga or exotic get away retreat. So what was so great about it?
I looked back over the week, and I realized all the things I did “right” that led to the experience I had.
1. I started out the day with meditation (something I usually call “noticing”), exercise, good nutrition (I’m a huge Shakology fan). Turns out, I’m a routine kinda person, so maintaining these routines while away from home are so nourishing to me. So I started every day like this, before my first skype or phone client, or before we set out on our day’s adventures.
2. When we left for the day, I had food and water with me, along with a book and other misc stuff, including all my poison ivy paraphernalia.
3. I took time each day to create via painting or writing, as well as read, or listen to youtubes /recordings/music that resonated with my felt experience of the moment.
4. I ended each day with some kind of meditation/noticing, a walk outside, and an abdominal massage.
These 4 steps were things I could basically “control” each day, things I could “do” to help me stay clear and present. Being a Capricorn, practicality and discipline are pretty easy for me, and it does seem as though my system really benefits from this way of being.
Getting back to the beginning part of this blog, what about those times when I’m freaking out? When I’m stressed and uncomfortable. I mean, steps 1-4 can only do so much. That’s when I come to number 5. Number 5 is taught in all the spiritual books, all the health books to a certain extent, and in all the self help books: be here now.
5. Be here now. What does that really mean, to be here now? It seems that it only means one thing: notice. Notice what is here now. What thoughts are here now? Notice them. What images are floating though my awareness now? Notice them. What sensations/emotions are going on in my body? Notice and feel them, now. What else is ever going on in a moment, other then thoughts/words, images/pictures, and/or energy/sensations/emotions? If we want to truly be here now, then the only thing we can do with those words, pictures, and energies are notice them and be with them. This doesn’t mean mentally engage in understanding or trying to control or change them. It literally means only being with them, exactly as they are. Just as you might hold a newborn baby.
Practically speaking, what that looked like during my week was that while out on my evening walks or at various points throughout the day, I’d stop and notice and feel what was going on inwardly. At the science museum, when I could feel the number of stimulation start to have an impact, I took a few minutes for myself and sat and noticed my internal climate. While noticing what I was experiencing, I cried. Luckily I’ve grown accustomed to crying, and so it’s no big deal for me anymore for tears to spontaneously emerge from my eyes. Apparently it is also the secret to staying young, so I’ll just keep letting the floodgates open as they do. The next day, while we were at the art museum, my parents and daughter were busy, so I sat down and spent about 20 minutes noticing what was going on in my system. And the following day, while at the zoo, when overcome by some thoughts, images and most dramatically some strong physical sensations, I sat down on the ground and sobbed. And the rest of that day, whenever I had the opportunity, instead of checking my phone or reading a book I’d brought, I lay down on the earth and breathed, and noticed.
Being here now doesn’t mean being with the now you want to be here. It doesn’t mean trying to find a way to make the now different, more pleasurable, comfortable or “better.” It doesn’t mean analyzing, understanding, fixing or rationalizing. Being here now is inquiring 100% into this moment, and whatever it holds via words, pictures and energy. Which means that when there are words and/or pictures, they are noticed and looked at fully. When there is a pain or contraction in the body, it’s felt fully. When there is sadness or anger or anxiety, it’s noticed and felt fully in the body.
Here’s the funny thing. When we sit with our words, images and energy, something does seem to change. We do seem to experience a peaceful transformation. But it’s a tricky paradox, because if that is the goal, to escape what is here now, then we’ll only be left with resistance. So we truly have to hand ourselves over to being here now. Part of this unfolding happens effortlessly when we experience that there is no “me” running the show of this reality/life. When this is seen through, it becomes clearer that there is also no “me” letting go, or being here now, but instead a movement of letting go and being here now. This subtle but significant difference allows for the understanding, fixing and outcome based mentality that leads to contraction and resistance to gently unwind, and surrender to occur.
6. I realized that there was one more thing that added to my retreat like week: I communicated, asked for assistance and was resourceful. When I was needing some “me time” I told my daughter that I was needing to meditate, or breath for awhile. At different times I asked my parents if they’d hang out with my daughter so that I could connect inwardly. I asked my dad if he’d keep an eye on her at the zoo so I could lay on the ground periodically. My daughter is older now, so it’s easier then ever for me to attend to nurturing myself, but it wasn’t all that long ago that I remember being resourceful in finding ways to take care of myself. Two of my favorite ways to find time and space to inwardly connect when my daughter was younger were going to the bathroom (not to actually pee but to sit on top of the toilet seat and breath) and walk to the kitchen sink for a big glass of water, breathing and inwardly connecting all the way. (and btw, kids cry, and so why shouldn’t adults cry. Holding our emotions in not only hurts us, it sets up an unrealistic model for our children, that adults don’t feel.) For what it’s worth, those two approaches (taking “time outs” to the bathroom or to get some water) are also strategies you can use in the work place. Get creative!
Being here now seems simple, but there also seems to be a million things that get in our way of doing this for ourselves. If you’d like to learn how to connect this way with yourself, send me an email. It’s become my life’s work, and I’d love to connect with you this way. firstname.lastname@example.org or www.integrativehealingnow.com More reading available at livingrealization.org