Letting Go 3:5
…continued from Put It On the Shelf
Practicing mindfulness tools during times when we’re free of stress and overwhelming feelings, helps us to utilize them when we’re under pressure. Right now, as you read this, experiment with putting something on the shelf (see this blog post), even if you’re not particularly overwhelmed at the moment. It will be good practice, honing this new tool.
Close your eyes and quickly sort through the issues that are uppermost in your mind, the chores that need doing, the decisions that must be made. Now imagine that shelf. What does it look like? What is it made of? Its color? How high is it? Now select one of the big issues from the scan you just did and place it on the shelf. Now choose something else, something smaller—the laundry perhaps—and place it on the shelf also. Keep your eyes closed for a few more moments. Breathe. Take three deep breaths and focus on that. In your mind, walk away from the shelf, knowing where it is and how to get back to it, and return to your life. Now open your eyes. How do you feel? Are you okay about those two items being left on the shelf? Can you keep them there for a day? Go back and retrieve them tomorrow?
Now take out your notebook and write about the experience. Write about what you chose to put there. Then think about why you chose what you did. Could be there’s no attachment to what you chose. That’s okay. Think about the things that came up that you were unwilling to put away, that you wanted to hang on to. This is your experience. It is your shelf. Your choices, your experience, will be unlike any other. Savor it. Learn from it. Keep doing it. You might even want to build or designate a real shelf in your Quiet Corner rather than just imagine one. Some day, if you continue to follow the Quiet Corner path, you will no longer need such a shelf. Everything in your heart and mind at any given moment will be manageable. And that’s a promise!
TAKE A BATH
As you experiment with and learn to use your new “put it on the shelf” tool, take note of the behavior you used prior to this when you were in the overwhelm mode. How did you relieve the pressure? Did you escape to another dimension using real or imagined substances? Are you still engaging in such behavior? Write about this. Has putting things on the shelf helped curb the old behavior? Are you now aware that the cigarette, the extra piece of cake, the excessive exercising or the fantasizing might be your way of coping with being overwhelmed? I’m not asking you to stop all such behavior now. Just use your new tool and be aware, be aware, be aware. And treat yourself to an extra long bubble bath or double feature. You deserve it.