There are so many moments in life when the stress begins to pile up and we just want to crawl into a hole until it all goes away. In stressful situations we can choose to spend our energy worrying about how it will all work out and lose ourselves in our thinking minds. Or, we can choose to stop the monkey mind, become still (here is where a routine meditation practice comes in handy), and take a page out of Dory’s notebook and “just keep swimming, just keep swimming.” One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned so far in my 44 years, is to just “do the next thing.” Instead of ruminating about how something went or might turn out, just take another step forward. If my mind is telling me, “Look Jen, you’ve had a tough couple of months. How bout you give yourself a ‘break’ and knock off the daily yoga and meditation, the regular exercise and go back to eating junky food and being a sloth. How about some chocolate and a nice long internet binge?” Gratefully, my meditation practice has taught me to be the witness of these thoughts. Sort of like, “Well, isn’t that interesting. Look where my thoughts are right now.” And, then, do the next thing that needs to be done. Such as; lace up my running shoes and open the door; or do a few sun salutations; or get out in nature; or express gratitude; or give back. In a nutshell:
In the later part of 2010, I dented a rental car to the tune of 2,800 CHF (small dent, Swiss prices), spent 200 CHF to fix a molar that chipped while eating a salad crouton, another 200 on a lost camera, over 100 on a lost phone and last week we received a bill from the canton of Neuchatel saying we owe a very high 4 figure sum in taxes (and news that this amount will be owed quarterly). We love living in Switzerland, but sometimes we feel a little overwhelmed by the prices. Just writing up the list of expenses we’ve accrued in a mere 6 months is enough to turn my usual monkey mind into a crazy, drunken, out of control monkey mind.
What to do? Obsess? Kick my schedule into high gear and teach non-stop for the next several months? Cancel all future travel plans? Hide in a dark theater with a giant box of Milk Duds (if only we had those here)? Start drinking wine at 4:30?
In the past, that may have been my knee-jerk reaction. Thankfully, my meditation and yoga practice has taught me to:
Second…become aware of my thoughts.
Third…just keep swimming, just keep swimming….
“Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming.
What do we do? We swim, swim.”