Hi everyone, so sorry for the late posting but our internet connection has been down for a few days. It’s actually still down but our super awesome neighbor and friend invited me over to steal a bit of hers and I’m able to post some of the things I had written for you (thanks Elena!). A few mornings ago I woke up to some difficult news. The political problems in my native country of Venezuela after the elections continued to escalate, in the afternoon I saw the news about the Boston Marathon bombing and to top it off, my bedtime reading right now is John Robbins’ Food Revolution. It’s a difficult read as it takes the mask off the meat and dairy industry and what is done to the animals, as well as what they don’t want you to know about how their products affect your health and the environment. In all three situations, and in so many others going on around the world, I felt absolutely powerless, and for the first time in weeks I had a feeling that isn’t very typical for me, I was enraged. I felt helpless and like the world was now reaching such extreme levels of ‘crazy’ that not even an optimist like myself could see the light at the end of the tunnel. These were examples from this week, but these events are happening every week, to every person, in every country, and they need not be political! Some people are battling illnesses, grieving, have other personal and financial problems, some are living in regions of the world afflicted by war and violence. Any given number of situations can send you down the anger spiral at one time or another. This is especially true in moments when there is very little we can do about our given situation.
Although anger is an important feeling to have, I bet most of us can agree that it’s very difficult to take action or remain calm in this state. Whether or not we can take action to fix our present situation, what should we do to keep our peace of mind, feel the blissful feeling of acceptance and carry on in the midst of chaos? What did I do on my day of bubbling anger to bring me back to center?
Garden goodness, soothing yoga and a mindful furry walk
– The first thing I did was go outside, sit in the sun and let all those feelings have their space. Sometimes we’re so focused on putting uncomfortable feelings away that we don’t let them do what they’re supposed to do. Trust me, anger, sadness and fear are there for a reason. After a few minutes of looking at my plants, I felt like doing a bit of gardening. Two seconds later my hands were elbow deep in mud, I was looking at the first sprouts coming out and the first flowers bloom. The garden seemed to go at its own pace. Any gardener can tell you that there’s no rushing your veggies. They take their time, come out when the conditions are right and grow slowly but surely. I was immersed in the absolute bliss of moving the earth and planting bulbs, looking over the plants that were starting to show a little tiny tip above the soil. It was like a meditation in motion. I was right there, and I forgot about my anger and frustration. When it was time to come inside I felt a huge sense of relief.
– The second thing I did later that day was of course my dearest yoga. I got on my mat and the feeling of being myself again came rushing back to me. The yoga mat is a powerful place in which to leave disappointment and take away serenity. What I love about yoga is that it doesn’t leave you relaxed and sleepy like you would be after a massage, it leaves you feeling strong and empowered but at ease and at peace with whatever your reality is at any given moment. I’ve heard and read about so many teachers in India who keep repeating the same thing over and over to their students. They explain that people are going about their search for happiness in the wrong way. To look for the perfect job, the perfect partner, the perfect hobby, the perfect child, the perfect body, the perfect family in search for an ever present sense of happiness is simply unrealistic. Yoga on the other hand gives you a sense of union with yourself and everything around you, so that in spite of whatever external circumstances might be troubling us, we may find our center and a sense of peace. Sounds pretty good right?
– The third thing I did was tell my dog we were going out for a long walk. She got so excited, went to find toys, jumped all over the house and seemed to be having just as much fun with the prospect of going out than with the walk itself! It put a smile on my face of course and when she finally stood still enough for me to tie her leash on, we headed out. We walked for a really long time, putting one foot in front of the other. I watched as she smelled some trees but not others, I watched as she tried to chase some birds, and as she occasionally looked up at me to meet my gaze. I was also there, fully present, and the anger finally just lifted away.
Need to cook at the same time?
It’s no coincidence that these three activities that allow you to be fully present are everyday routines. Sometimes the simpler an activity is, especially if it’s repetitive, the greater it will be to settle you down and bring you back to your center. I must admit that some other favorites of mine happen in the kitchen: buying fresh peas in their pods and sitting next to a big bowl and slowly opening the pod and emptying the peas into another bowl (seems silly but trust me, it’s powerful!). Baking a fruit pie, making bread or a pot of soup. The repetitive and simple actions of cutting, rolling, stirring are simple little things we can do to feel a few minutes of peace.
The power of meditation and a basic exercise
Last but not least there is of course meditation. This is in itself the most complete act of being present and releasing your body of all present circumstances. People are often intimidated by meditation, it seems like something only the most disciplined can do, but meditation is quite simply the act of being present, while clearing your mind as much as possible and focusing on your breath. Verena, our in house expert on meditation will be talking about this in detail through her posts, but while we wait for her wonderful words of wisdom, here’s a bit of my experience to get you started. Sit in a comfortable position with your back straight, eyes closed (or slightly open with a blurry vision), and focus on the breath. If your mind wanders, don’t stress out or call it quits, it’s the mind’s natural state to wander (that’s where creativity comes from!), don’t punish yourself, just bring it back and continue. Even 5 minutes will give you an amazing feeling of release.
Do you have any ideas of simple tasks we can do every day to bring us back to a calm place? I’d love to hear about them so feel free to leave your ideas in the comments below, you might give a great idea to another reader!