A Simple Practice to Be Present

When feeling overwhelmed it is easy to look to social media for distraction. Rather than analyze if what I am feeling is anxiety, fear, or nervousness like most of us, I scroll. As I scroll I find several other items that grab my attention. Instead of just worrying about my own small problems, I am also worried about global warming, Ukraine, and if we have ingredients for vegan pasta. These are not solutions they are simply more tasks. Adding tasks to my plate when I am already feeling overwhelmed is not an answer. It is another problem.

It feels easier some days to be distracted. However, you’re not going to be able to hear your own voice when you are taking in so many other ideas. To help you process all of the thoughts rushing through your head, do the smallest thing you know to do first.

Instead of distracting myself I find that a yoga class can often help me get grounded again. When I am most chaotic inside, it helps to have a physical practice to focus my attention. There is nothing like a slow flow class where I am intentionally stretching to bring me into the present. I think things like, “I can do this better,” or, “Nope, too deep a stretch on that side.” Whatever the inner monologue is, it is no longer about the world outside. I am not fixing everything I am only focused on one thing. As I do this I am soothed and comforted.

Working backward from chaos and overwhelm into being present with and in myself is an intentional act. Yoga is what does it for me. How do you bring yourself back from chaos to comfort? What steps work best for you?

Making Sense of Chaos

We are living in the calm before the storm right now. Our current home and the home into which we will move next month are both in limbo. We are preparing to move, packing more boxes every day and trimming down the possessions we have out. The walls are naked and much like the purging before and the cleaning that followed, we are living with less. In many ways it is freeing. 

It is just enough upheaval to be in one home but also halfway out of it. I have been so focused on what comes next that only zoning out in front of a show seems to do the trick. My meditations feel light and I come away from them less refreshed and more focused on the mounting list of to do items that grew while I was attempting to align myself and my energy. Feng shui would say that my life is out of line because my home is out of alignment. There is no rhyme or reason to the stacks of boxes that are taking up every available space right now. Our home is typically a peaceful zone of respite from the outside world – right now the chaos is inside the house.

Here’s what I know about surviving and thriving in chaos. I need to breathe deep. I need to keep meditating even though it feels ineffective. I need to close my eyes and calm down. I need to go on a walk. I need to trust the universe and finish packing the almost full boxes that are lingering between open and closed. I need to finish wrapping up the paintings and art work still hanging on our walls. It is time to pack away precious momentoes and prepare myself to move forward. It is time to let go of attempting to control the chaos and to simply embrace it. 

Isn’t that funny about control. Ever having control is a complete illusion. The nihilist statement, “We live on a floating rock in a giant space with no real end,” beautifully articulates the breadth of control we completely lack. Being reminded of how small we are, how small I am, helps me to remember that this too shall pass. That this moment and all it’s stresses and fears and insecurities will not last forever. And I do not need to carry the responsibility for making it perfect on my back. What is to be perfect? What is my responsibility? 

My role is small and the work I do tiny, but like ants moving leaves from outside their hill back to the center to be used, shared, and of service. Perhaps those ants have a name or a dream but their role in life is simply to use their gifts to be of service to their community and so too is mine. 

My duty is not to analyze or predict what my impact will be in life or the world. My role is simply to show up and perform to the best of my capabilities the tasks I have been assigned and am inspired to complete. That is my work. That is my calling. And while I do not understand all of it or how it all relates together, that is NOT my work. I simply carry the leaf, sharing my thoughts and the fruits of my labor with all of you because you are my community, my fellow humans. You are who the work is for, and about, and to glorify. 

My brain is all over with the work there is to be done, but my focus, my next right thing is the completion of this piece. My next work is to take myself on a walk. I need to get out and to stretch my legs and to take care of myself. And then I will consider another task, my next step. 

What steps will you be taking next? Do you ever feel this inner conflict between taking action and stepping too far into thinking you can control the outcome?