Monday, November 14, 2011

Change the picture, change your mood

Lately I've felt like my life has gotten a bit out of control.  Every day I was living life in such a way that I felt like there was no room for error. So when the inevitable bumps in the road happened I would fly off the handle. I'm a single mom to two busy, easily distracted girls and I'm starting my own massage therapy practice - bumps in the road happen every single day.  So I was flying off the handle - every single day. The anxiety was getting to me and to my girls.  I started imagining my life as a bobsled race.  I was the captain, my girls were my teammates and we were careening down an icy course.  One wrong move on my part and our very lives would be in danger.  It's no wonder I was a complete freaking mess.  Daily.  On top of that, we are still struggling with living in a much smaller apartment than we used to have.  It's been hard to pare down our belongings and hard for the girls to clean up after themselves when there's so little space to put things.  My mental, emotional and physical spaces were closing in on me.

At yoga the other day, my teacher talked about making space.  Metaphorically speaking.  Doing the poses helps make physical space in our joints and our spines.  Meditating and taking time for recovery hopefully helps us make space in our minds and our souls for the inevitable challenges of daily life.

By the end of class I realized that it was my own imagination that was making me anxious. I'm not a bobsled team captain.  My girls and I aren't in a bobsled race.  But keeping that in my mind made me feel physically as if that's exactly what we were.  I can choose to dismiss that picture from my mind and I can choose to replace it with something much more peaceful.  Something with space.

At first I thought of cross-country skiing.  (And what is it with me and winter sports? I hate to be cold and I don't even ski.)  But then my heart started pounding at that thought so I realized that wouldn't work. I changed the picture. I imagined that my girls and I were walking in a boundless meadow.  On a sunny - but not too hot - day.  I knew that if we needed to change direction at any time, that would be fine.  No obstacles.  No ice.  No scary, blind turns.  Just grass and flowers and sun and happy.  And calm.  Lots and lots of calm.

I'd love to say that since then I've been unflappable.  Calm and peaceful as Ghandi.  Not so.  But I've been better.  And improving every day.  Because I know that when that bobsled racing, no room for error thinking starts creeping into my mind, I can change it.  And the meadow is always there to calm me down.

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