I was talking to a friend a few weeks ago about a topic that tends to come and go in my life. It is one that always seems a bit hard to put into words. I can remember a time almost ten years ago when I was sitting on our bed in a loft we were living in. I had this surreal moment when I looked around and thought: all these things happening in my life are all a distraction to get me to not look at the painful stuff. A clearer thought was: working through the painful stuff is what moves you forward to that next level of understanding. It was not a fun time in my life. That day I was alone. Chris was traveling in China and life felt rough, bumpy, and not much fun.
The conversation from a few weeks ago circled back to that same feeling. Do we all have the craziest of lives because it keeps us distracted from the real and raw stuff we are supposed to be looking at the most? We do not want to so we stay hyper-focused on all that we have to do? We stay extremely busy, and then we never have to get really quiet and listen to that voice inside that tells us where we should really be looking? It has been true for me from time to time. I like to think that I am still listening even between all the many responsibilities and deadlines. Am I lying to myself though? Is it really possible? Or do you just need to walk away from it all, whether for a week, or month to really be able to see inside?
I just finished reading a book called “Dinner with Buddha” by Roland Merullo. At first it was a hard book to read. I could not get into it, and then as I found a few morsels of inspiration I was pulled into the quiet, thoughtful ideas inside. While it is a novel, it reads like a self-help book. There were quite a few ideas that come from the story and analogies the author shares. This idea in particular resonated as it made me think of that day ten years ago, and the conversation from a few weeks ago:
“Plugging along at monk-speed, I couldn’t help but wonder if it wasn’t all some kind of trick we were playing on ourselves. Maybe the more we crammed into a day the less we actually experienced. Maybe the addictive hurry was all a kind of racing away from our existential predicament, as if we could outrun old age and death, and as though, if we kept busy enough, kept moving, traveled farther, checked more items off the to-do list on any given day, then, like astronauts in orbit, we’d escape the bonds of ordinary time. Or escape, at least, the manic workings of our minds.” Page 118-119
Is that truly why we do so much? We are trying to get away from our minds and true thoughts? I sure hope not, but I can see it being true. I know it from the tricks my mind plays on me. Yet I want so badly to slow down, stop moving, get rid of the to-do list and live moment by moment into what my mind wants me to learn, however painful as it may be to look into all that is there for me to learn.
People come into and out of our life and sometimes we do not have a choice. At times their lives are too busy for us, or maybe we are too busy for them. Often we do not know why we no longer connect, hear from, or are a priority for others. There might not be a malicious reason, life happens, shit happens. Maybe the famous line: “It’s not you, it’s me” really is true in friendships and working relationships. I have had a few frustrating conversations over the past week and I continue to wonder, was it me, or was it them? Should I have handled things differently? Should I have been more patient, or more direct?
When we do not receive direct feedback from others, the “It’s not you, it’s me” line does not answer our questions. We might agonize over whether we have alienated someone, pissed them off, or made them feel tiny. Sometimes we will never know what we did (or did not do in a situation). Our agony is not really worth the time, especially if we never receive answers to our questions. We must move on and continue towards what is next.
There were a few individuals that I especially was looking forward to having in my life in the near future. Sometimes the roads that we think will meet are just a mirage, we dream of where they could lead, and somehow when we get closer to where we think they meet, we realize it was all just our eyes playing tricks on us. Or maybe we allowed our mind to dream and wonder where this moment in our life could take us. Whether it was not meant to be, or it was not meant to be at this moment in our life. We can be grateful for what we learned in the process. I know that sounds cliché, but really each step we take, leads us to the next opportunity that awaits us. We just might not see it clearly at first. I am having such moments. Was it me, or was it them? What I thought I would see on the other side is different from what I am seeing now. I have to clear my mind and be open for the true picture that is before me.
Definitely not easy, but maybe the true adventure is not knowing what we will see on the other side. Maybe when our imagination runs wild, we can put a picture together and even when it does not turn out like our dreams, sometimes when we wait patiently and long enough the end result is better than we can ever imagine. I am willing to wait, maybe less patiently over time, but I have seen it before and I know my imagination is sometimes not large enough for what is possible.
I have nights when I sleep beautifully, and other nights when I toss and I turn. Either I cannot sleep on one side, I get hot, or I have to pee multiple times. Some nights I toss and turn because Chris is snoring. I have to either deal, or pat him and ask him to roll over so I can actually go to sleep. Other times I ponder life, and eventually fall back asleep, or I get up and read and when my eyes can no longer handle it, I snuggle up next to my warm husband and fall back to sleep.
When I found a new way of approaching falling asleep, I thought why not try it? It actually works (from what I have found so far). It is the 4-7-8 principle outlined here:
“She happens to be a licensed wellness practitioner who studies meditation, stress, and breathing techniques, and told me it would change my life. You simply breathe in through your nose for four seconds, hold your breath for seven seconds, and exhale through your mouth for eight seconds. She explained that the studied combination of numbers has a chemical-like effect on our brains, and would slow my heart rate and soothe me right to sleep that night. “It works,” she told me. “It’s crazy.”
I have tried it a few times and since I do not remember what happened next, I think that means that I have fallen asleep. Breathe in for four seconds, hold for seven seconds, and exhale through mouth for eight seconds. When I do it I can physically feel a difference in my body. When you hold your breathe for seven seconds, and then exhale, your body has to go through a moment of relaxation. You would exhale out in a different way if you had not held your breath. While it feels a bit strange, I feel my body relax and release in ways it probably would not if I did not do: 4-7-8.
They are right that is slows your heart rate. It somehow slows my mind, which is just what I need to let go and let my mind and body relax and allow a few hours of sleep to get me to the next morning where it all starts over again. Take a moment to read the above link to see more detail on mindless breathing, and how it can help you sleep better. ZZZZZzzzzz…