Last week I found myself blurry eyed, tears streaming down my cheeks, vigorously bouncing my baby to sleep. I was physically tired, emotionally drained, and surrounded by mountains of laundry, dirty dishes and an unopened laptop full of unanswered work emails. I was frustrated at the baby for taking so long to settle, and angry at myself for getting frustrated in the first place. I felt the fear of having the crying baby wake my other kids. I felt the anxiety of knowing I could not possibly get to any of the things on my to-do list in this current state. In my mind I was failing at EVERYTHING. The more I ruminated on this sentiment, the shittier I felt. Everything that was “wrong” started to infiltrate my mind. The list kept getting longer...My thinning post-pregnancy hair. The unhappy customer I had to deal with earlier that day. The coughing 3 year old sleeping in the next room. The same pair of dirty socks left in the corner of the bedroom for going on 3 days now - “Why have I not yet picked those up?!!”... I had opened the flood gates, and now there was no stopping it. Sobbing, I had to put down the baby (who was also sobbing) and leave the room. Can anyone relate? I wish I could say I bounced back a few minutes later. I didn’t. My husband tried to be helpful... “Do you think you are about to get your period?” 🙄 God bless him. I know he meant well. He offered up solutions. Hire a baby sitter? Go to a yoga class? Stay in a hotel for a night? None of that sounded appealing. It was as if the black hole of parenting was sucking me into it’s darkness. I couldn’t escape with a yoga class or a night away. A babysitter felt like a band aid, not a solution. A few days later the fog lifted a bit and I realized that my current situation was NOT the problem. The problem was where I was placing my focus, on all the negatives. In my meditation practice I often tell myself that it’s not about clearing the mind, it’s about focusing the mind. Each time I get caught up in the internal whirling and chatter I have a CHOICE - The choice to refocus and simply begin again. So that’s what I did. I made the choice to begin again...I let go of the negative self talk, the doubts, the judgements and fears. I simply loosened my grip. Instead of focusing on the “wrong.” I decided to look at what was right, and RIGHT in front of me...A beautiful chubby baby gazing into my eyes. Two beautiful little girls prancing around the living room like a couple of fairies. A husband who would drop everything and bend over backwards to help me feel better. Food, shelter, and clothes? Check. I job that I truly love? Check. All my needs were being met and then some. How beautiful is this life?! Our thoughts shape our reality, and negative thinking can attract more negative thinking. Being present, expressing gratitude for what is good, and making the choice to begin again after a bad day can keep the negative thinking at bay. It can change your reality. This is a good tip for my personal training and yoga clients too. Sometimes we have a bad week or a bad month or a bad year! But it doesn’t matter. You have been slacking? Or eating poorly? Or stuck in a rut? No problem. You can make the choice to begin again. Every day, every moment, every breath is an opportunity to start fresh. Sometimes it really is that easy. How?? Cultivate the skill. Practice the fine art of beginning again. Give it a try through meditation... Sit comfortably. Scan your body from head to toe for any tension, softening the pockets of tension with each exhale. Now simply focus your mind on your breath. Follow you inhale and exhale. And each time you notice your mind getting caught up in thought (good or bad). Say the words “begin again” and refocus on your breath. Even if you have to do it 20 times in the course of two minutes, it’s okay. Keep calm and simply begin again. Eventually it will become easier. And then you can integrate this skill into life outside of meditation.
Less rumination, less negative self talk, means more happy, mindful moments. Now begin again.
*image credit - Catie Atkinson