Sometimes, You Should Do Nothing
Today I recommend that sometimes, you do nothing. Okay, not exactly nothing...rather, I recommend that you (and your child!) take five or 10 minutes a day to sit quietly and do mindfulness, meditation, or relaxation exercises, especially when things feel hard or chaotic. Because giving yourself that space and time to just breathe can work wonders. I have been meditating for nine years and I have seen it transform my life. It sounds extreme, but it is true. I am much less anxious, and I am more skilled at dealing with life's ups and downs. Just last night I had to take my cat Fuzzy (pictured above) to the emergency vet*, a very stressful situation. I had a few tears on the way there, and I was quite concerned.
But I noticed that in the waiting room, I felt calm and I did not have racing thoughts about what might happen to him. No pounding heart, no sweating. This is a big change for me. In the past, I have become extremely anxious in similar situations nearly to the point of a panic attack. I attribute much of the difference to my daily mindfulness practice. As mindfulness expert Andy Puddicombe says in his TED talk, “Meditation offers the potential to step back and get a different perspective and see that things aren't always as they appear. We can't change what happens to us in life, but we can change the way that we experience it.”
He reminds us that meditation and mindfulness are about “stepping back and watching emotions and thoughts come and go with a relaxed, focus mind and without judgment.” I believe that is the key: that we observe and watch our thoughts without judgment. And then, once we have observed them, to let them go. It takes practice, like learning to play the piano or perfecting a golf swing. Once you have become skilled, you see that the space you give yourself in those five or 10 minutes creates exponentially more space during all the other minutes of your life.
If you want any tips on how to find those 5 or 10 minutes, please let me know.