“Life is but a dream”… I’m sure you’ve heard this phrase or watched Beyonce’s HBO special of the same title. But have you ever really thought about these words? When I’m working or doing chores or stuck in traffic, I sure don’t feel like life is a dream. It feels like the real deal. But when I step back and think about the things that stress me out or make me feel anxious, many times those things aren’t real and immediate threats to my life although my body reacts as if it is.
For example, being stuck in traffic while on the way home from work isn’t exactly a clear and present danger. In fact, when I focus on the fact that I’m literally just sitting in my car and no amount of hair pulling or screaming is going to get me to my destination sooner, I relax a bit. Would it kill me to settle into my seat? Turn on XM radio, a podcast or audio book or just play my favorite CD? (Yes, I still have CDs). Maybe I even call a friend or family member and catch up (hands free, of course!).
When I focus on being present - no matter what the situation - everything stops feeling ominous and threatening. Essentially, I’m reducing the situation to what it is. An experience that is not permanent or as dramatically nightmarish as my mind is making it out to be. I am allowing myself to awaken from any dream that I do not want to experience and awaken to the reality that I am breathing. I am alive. And although that may seem like something to be taken for granted, it is a wonderful gift in and of itself.
So I ask this of you, dear reader… if you find yourself in a situation that feels overwhelmingly bad, remember to breathe. And with each breath, remind yourself that you are alive and that is the only thing that is real in this moment. Everything else is a story that you can choose or not choose to buy into. In this moment, you are experiencing something real that will fade into a distant memory. And then one day it will become a dream. Because… life is but a dream. Make it a good one whenever you can.
Hey y'all! I've been sick. I mean coughing, sneezing, head aching, nose running, fever and body ache sick. It's been a little over a week and while I'm back to sending emails and sitting at a desk again, I've still got some healing to do. Regardless, I wanted to share two stories with you. The first one is pretty inspiring. (Spoiler: I discovered something awesome about the power of meditation.) The second one... not so inspiring, but maybe someone needs to hear it so I'll tell it anyway.
Here's story #1
I felt at my sickest while at the airport. And as horrible as that sounds, it was worst. Fever chills were rendering me queasy and weak. My brain felt as if it would explode with every swallow and every heartbeat. And I could barely stand to drag my corpse across the airport much less my heavy bags. Even worst, I'd had a layover and gotten to the airport five hours before my first flight took off due to some irritating business with early check out times and what have you. Under normal circumstances, it was a shitty airport experience but being sick just made it unbearable. So I picked up my cell phone and pulled up a meditation app (Calm) that I'd recently paid for a year's subscription for. Mind you, I'd only meant to use the weeklong trial period and unintentionally overstayed my welcome... but boy am I happy I did. After settling on a particular topic - which I'm sorry to say I'm forgetting what meditation topic I chose - I closed my eyes and drifted off into oblivion. When I woke up, my headache and chills were gone. I blinked a few times and smiled, wondering why on earth I didn't decide to meditate earlier. Now I'm not going to say that the rest of my trip was a breeze but it certainly went much better (and surprisingly quicker) than it would have had I NOT meditated. With the added motivation of a clearer brain (and nostrils), I did a few meditations while on the airplane and it instantly sped up the rest of my trip. Before I knew it, I was home and in bed. To say that meditation will now be my secret weapon when I'm sick is an understatement. I suggest that when you're feeling your worst, you tap into this super power.
Now comes story #2
A couple days ago, I was down in the dumps. I really couldn't tell you why. It could've been residual sickness wearing off. I'd also just gotten back from a trip and while it went great, it took a huge toll on me mentally, emotionally and physically. Anyway, I'd tried to jump back into the swing of things but couldn't seem to get it together. The funk had taken over my life. And so I went to my 'go-to' (meditation, of course) but I still ended up feeling empty. So I did the only thing I could think of. I let the depressed feelings wash over me. I paid attention to my body. Ate when I was hungry. Rested, when I felt tired (which was all day). I watched my favorite TV shows. Didn't force myself to do anything I didn't want to do. Allowed myself to express my emotions in as healthy a way as possible (making sure to tell me husband that he was NOT the object of my glumness.) I mainly just allowed the mood to do what it needed to do so that I could fully process it out of my system. Right now I can't say that I'm at one hundred percent, but I CAN say that I feel much better.
I say all of this to say that meditation is a great way to help us to get through tough times, but it is not some magical cure-all drug that stops us from feeling feelings. The best way to cope with life's ups and downs is always by processing our emotions - even the unpleasant ones - and allowing them to run their course. Sometimes it sucks, but it's part of the completely balanced breakfast experience called life. (The breakfast part was a joke.)
That said, I look forward to facing my emotions head on and I hope you will too.