If I were to launch into my recent self-discovery, my meditations, would you cringe? I feel a need to qualify sharing this with some excuses and jokes. I have always been pragmatic and scientific; one who blushes when asked to exhale audibly into a room. I like my religion grounded in hymns and history; and it takes effort to believe in that. I have a master’s degree in evidence-making. I like proof. Don’t get me wrong, I also like hugs and cards and deep conversations. I like sharing and caring and children’s books and Sarah McLachlan. I actually named my dog after a Norsk ruin stone. I like it when my intuitive cousin reads my cards. I like tears, other people’s tears, to flow freely. I just get uncomfortable when I am asked to let down my own guard. A friend recently told me I should try to be a little less tough. Pppff. Whaa? Me? Tough? That is so not…well…ok. I was raised by a psychiatrist and a teacher in a Lutheran family. Lots of communication, love, campfires, singing of songs we all knew. How I ended up valuing “toughness” and “evidence” is a topic for another day after a few more years of therapy. But, I decided she was right and I am going soft. Its soooo uncomfortable. And yet it feels so good (Blechy blechy). So I am launching…
I started an exercise a week ago called “Sit Spot,” suggested by personal coach Michael Trotta, from Sagefire Institute. I asked a panel of coaches in an online discussion for advice on how to quiet my busy mind and listen to my heart. Michael suggested sitting in nature for 15 minutes per day for 30 days, taking inventory with all 5 senses, which resonated. I trust nature. Its old. Historic. Deeply rooted. I think having static-in-the-attic is a fairly universal problem, so I am sharing a weekly update this month in the hope it will be helpful to some of you, too.
Day one: I picked the only 15 minutes out of every 2 weeks the recycling truck comes. Beep, beep, beep. Trying to hear dam bird. I had to work so hard to hear every squirrel for the shattering glass that I was actually distracted from my thoughts. Apparently I needed a serious challenge.
Day two: Bull dozer loading bricks. For real. I went through my senses over and over, switching every time thoughts crept in (which was often) but the constant kaboom helped, again. Does God/god/nature/Universe/whatever send noisy trucks?
Day three: Nighttime experiment under the stars. Very still. Distant roar of tarmac. Geese fly south at midnight?? The creek. Its so loud and lovely–how did I miss that before? Sleepy. Wee small voice says, “get more sleep.” Woah–was that The Voice? Wisdom? Heart speaking? Nah, probably chamomile tea.
Day four: I brought a mentor; Gebo the dog is a serious expert in sitting outside doing nothing. He is also a soul mate of mine, age 15, and dying. We need quiet time together. Someone walked past me, saying “I believe in the Universe. It sends lessons and then…” Huh. I am feeling more open to this whole nature/God/Universe/spiritual thing.
Day five: First thing in the morning, I ran out of gas on the highway at rush hour. Trapped. I knew the car was on empty. I didn’t take the truck. Didn’t stop to fill up. Too rushed. Suns coming up–the light in the car is beautiful. I decide this is my 15 minutes with “nature.” Cars and trucks speeding past me are terrifying. A MnDOT man comes and gives me gas. I stand there watching him step into traffic to fill my tank–his life at risk for my error. That would have been my husband had he not shown up first, less adept and not wearing a flashing vest. I’m here, tank empty, demanding someone else fill it, rushing to an appointment it turns out is tomorrow. Analogy is quite clear; “Fill your tank.”
Day six: I sit in sun for 5 minutes and then suddenly jump up. Behind me, coyote, 40 feet, happy and bounding. Coyote 20 feet, eye contact. Calm. Coyote 10 feet. Stare. Heart. Racing. Instincts say leap into tree! She recoils. I fall, she runs. Breathe. Laugh. Breathe. Adrenaline. The difference between the coyote and I glares at me. She wasn’t scared until she felt threatened. She owned urgency and fear and employed them like tools–I saw them enter every inch of her body as she turned coat and ran. I, however, put on my jeans, some fear, a shirt and my favorite urgency every morning. She trusted her instincts to stimulate fear at the right time rather than wearing it all day long. I have instincts. I stood before I knew she was there. A talk with a friend later helped me face there is a constant voice in my head saying “something is coming. Be ready.” Time to thank that voice for teaching me so much and giving me skills; I am not conflict avoidant. I operate keenly when distressed–eg: awkward painful leap into tree. Thank you for your service, fear voice, you may leave. Urgency; I have worn holes in you.
Day 7 (one week): Me and the mentor. Gebo can sniff one leaf for over a minute. 100 thoughts circulating. I even check my phone. Argh. Start the timer over. A voice inside says, “you’ll get better at this.” Again, is that THE VOICE? So unfamiliar and calm. Lots of sunlight and warmth; scent of last night’s backyard fires. Its loud out here. I cover my ears. Its sad in here. Vision of my mom in a hospital bed. I feel a little of that day months ago–ouch. Vision of life without Gebo. Double ouch. I do an inventory of my hurting family and friends. So many right now. I send them all love. Well, well, Universe. No motor vehicles or wildlife today?
Week one and I felt something new; I felt pain that I did not resist. I felt comfort. I felt pending loss. I felt safe without my armor and cloak. We all have a little warrior in us. But I’d like my warrior robes to be something I don when necessary, like the coyote, not a daily wear. I can’t say that after one week my mind is any quieter. And I certainly haven’t removed all of my armor. But I have realized it will take much more bravery to disrobe than it ever did to start wearing this tough-girl costume.