This is the third week of December. How are you doing? I would imagine there are a plethora of emotions going on inside. The sheer level of activities and expectations may have started to take their toll on our energy, our patience, and our presence. The many different forms of emotional experiences can change hour by hour as we jump around from emotion to emotion by this time in the season. Perhaps we can focus this week on being kinder to ourselves and create a way to break from the jumping around and just trust ourselves to monitor and adjust smoothly as the month and excitement continues?
For me, I notice three different ways I jump around in December. I am an ecstatic little child with a big smile, enjoying all the decorations and the excitement. I live in a small little mountain town and love the swelling of people returning home or here on vacation. The local coffee shop is packed with college kids telling each other stories, parents and children and new babies, and large tables of laughter. The energy is intoxicating for me.
I can also notice the wise mature woman who is watching the ebb and flow of activities, enjoying the times and able to breathe deeply and see all the energy swirling around us. It is such a gift to choose when and how to jump in and play with it, and when to watch it from a place of non-attachment. That is when I am wise.
Then I have those not so wise times. These are those times I notice I am smiling on the outside, while out in the store or in line at the post office, and yet, just under the surface, there is this electric tension in my body. Have you ever felt that? The “just below the surface” tension that will not cease without real conscious effort.
This is what I call the half-present participation in what is in front of us. We are there, participating in the activity and the conversation, yet not really there. Part of us might be reviewing old memories of previous Decembers, another part is emotionally maintaining. Or we catch ourselves in task master mode. Or maybe part of us is just holding on while we managing grief. All of this is going on just below the surface.
When we can actually identify this kind of inner chaos going on, we get an opportunity to do something about it. It is in the recognition of what we see and feel, that the opportunity to shift appears. What might this look like?
There is a tool I use in parent coaching. It is a four-step process of creating a shift…anywhere, anytime. First, it starts with identifying what we are doing. Here’s an example. You might be home, hanging out, believing you are relaxing and present with the people you love. Yet there is this activity going on in your head and then you realize you not really all the way there. Boom. You are not really present! You might be going through the motions of talking and connecting, and yet you are not really connecting…to yourself or to anyone else. You have IDENTIFIED what is going on.
Once you catch this, and realize you have a slight disconnect, the next step is to STOP or freeze where you are and refuse to continue. This is an active step, and the most crucial. For it is when we choose to take action, to pull back and refuse to continue that we allow ourselves to shift direction.
Now that you have made the choice to stop, the next step is to APPLY a tool that you know will redirect you back in to being present. One that works really well is the using breathing and doing a body check in. Briefly close your eyes and take a deep breath and feel your toes, your knees, if your sitting down feel your bottom on the couch, loosen your shoulders, and bring yourself back into you body. Do this as many times as you need to in order to feel completely present.
The last step is the most important and one we often skip over. ACKNOWLEDGE to yourself that you were able to identify what you were doing, caught it and stopped it, and applied a short and simple tool to change the direction you were going. It is in the acknowledging that we honor ourselves and provide gratitude for what we just did. Also, if someone else is involved, take a moment to let that person know you have re-corrected and are now fully present!! Yay!
So, with that said, I am sure you will have ample opportunities to practice this over the next few days and through the busyness as we go into the end of the month and all the swirling of activities that often accompanies the end of the year celebrations.
It occurs to me that the Winter Solstice is tonight and tomorrow. If you have not participated in this celebration before, this might be a wonderful opportunity to gather some friends and family together and do something really cool and grounding.
Hope this blog provides a small moment of grace for you.