This month has been hectic. More than the usual hectic.
We saw two of our Thai exchange student friends off at the airport (early flights out meant waking at 4am). We helped my 83 year old mother who recently had back surgery pack up the house she has lived in for the past 19 years, and move into a (MUCH smaller) independent living apartment. We somehow made room for my father’s collection of approximately 1,000 LPs in our home (a process that involved supporting a wall with steel poles and flanges!) We registered our new Taiwanese student for school and started making a room for him – he’ll arrive in August. And yes, he gets to sleep in the room with the LPs. (Where else could we put them?) We nurtured Shanti through finishing 10th grade and today she flew to Seattle — unescorted — to visit with a friend there before she leaves for Japan to study at a language immersion school in Fukuoka for the month of July. And of course, all of that goes on while we’re both working full time, walking the dogs 3 times a day, food shopping, cooking, doing dishes, and falling behind on laundry. Oh, and how could I forget, we also had our roof repaired this month.
And I discovered something useful about myself (Self discovery seems to be the bright side of all things exhausting). I got to see my top 3 ways to cope with stress. These are the strategies I seem to reach for first, and fortunately two out of three are accessible while I’m on the go, and they’re all healthy so I thought they’re worth sharing.
1. Silence. My number 1 way to cope with stress is to turn everything off. Turn off the radio in the car. Turn off the TV at home. Turn off sound. The less auditory stimuli, the better. When I’m stressed my head is already noisy enough without adding any more noise from the outside. Quiet outside, quiet inside. Silence helps reduce my feeling of being overwhelmed. It simplifies and limits what’s coming at me.
2. Clean. When I feel stressed, I clean. Getting the space around me organized makes me feel more organized inside. When things are clean and orderly, it’s like I’ve made the environment quieter. Environmental silence. Messiness is a kind of noise. At least it is for me. It’s too distracting. I don’t know, maybe that’s a little OCD, but it’s selective OCD — I can happily postpone cleaning most of the time.
3. Appreciating beauty. This one, like silence, is really portable. You can do it anywhere. This is not the kind of appreciation that happens when you try to be grateful. It’s just spontaneous noticing of hidden treasures, happy little distractions from whatever it is that weighs on you. I don’t go looking for them. It almost seems like they look for me! They jump out at me. Grab my attention for just the instant it takes to switch background and foreground. For that moment, the stress fades into background, as the beauty comes forward, more vivid, more real. And I feel better. A smiling baby in a grocery store. The smell of ground coffee. (I have to confess here that I sniff bulk coffee dispensers). A cloud that’s an unusual color. Overhearing a kind exchange between strangers. The perfect word in a sentence – now that’s a thing of beauty.
Use the comment button below and tell me, what are your top 3 healthy stress relievers?
meditation by Deb Genatossio
The sky is cloudless
the hard perfect blue of a summer painting
mountain breezes whisper through the roses in the garden
the mountains are misted by the distance
A scent. flowers, sea, new grass drifts on the air
it fills me with a sigh of pure pleasure
I soak all of these in
there is no gray drizzle here just strong warming sunlight
I feel a quiet deep blanketing stillness all around me
if I could paint I’d paint this beauty
and call it ” silence”
Meditation by Deb Genatossio
In the world of water and sun I think of only pleasures.
I drift letting the tension sink beneath the waves.
the water makes me feel clean and alive.
I have found peace without even trying.
I swim back to shore.
the sand shifts beneath my feet with the gentle current.
shells dot the shoreline clean and glistening.
I stand and stretch the water lapping around my knees.
the sun feels glorious.
a blue sea surrounded by clouds hugs me.
“The next message you need
is always right where you are.”
— Ram Dass
Meditation is where you get out of incessant trying. There is a part of us that is constantly trying. Trying to accomplish something. Trying to do this. Trying to do that. It’s exhausting.
Meditation is about getting into a state of allowing where you’re not pushing against anything. We have very strong desires for things to be a certain way. But the only thing we really have control over is what we put our attention on, what we focus on.
Meditation, quieting the mind, positions us to make choices about where we want to put our attention, instead of just being pulled from one situation to the next and reacting. Meditation helps people get into a state of awareness. As your awareness increases, you have access to understanding. But the first level is letting go of resistance, which is the trying to achieve this and that.
You may have heard of people who have huge insights or breakthroughs when they sleep, or when they’re just taking a walk in the park, or playing with their kids. A scientist may have been working on a project for years and all of a sudden, when he’s sleeping or doing some mundane task, the crucial idea comes to him. For me, insights usually come when I’m in the shower, or driving alone in the car, or when I first wake up in the morning – when I’m just in that transitional state before my conscious mind kicks in. The insights – the answers to a problem or question I have – come then because there’s nothing blocking them. I’m not trying. There’s no resistance. There’s nothing in the way of receiving.
Meditation can take you into that state of allowing, precious freedom from effort and trying. What a relief!
Every year, Charles and I like to give Christmas gifts (or Hanukkah, as the case may be) to the folks he works with. And ordering online is so convenient! So on December 11th, I placed orders with three companies for a bunch of gifts. Then, I waited.
Well the days rolled by and I checked the mail each day but they didn’t come. You know how the days pass. Suddenly it December 21st. I was starting to get worried. I thought I’d better contact the companies. I’d gotten “your item has shipped” emails from each of them shortly after I placed the orders. So where was our stuff?
Every one of the tracking numbers, from all three companies, showed that the items were “Delivered” to our address by the US Postal Service on December 14, 2012 at 1:37 PM. I could have cried. I contacted the Post Office and they contacted the neighborhood carrier and he said he delivered the packages. (What else would he say?) He may have delivered them, but we never received them. It really didn’t help to imagine what might have happened to them.
So I emailed each of the companies that we ordered with. I told them I knew it wasn’t their fault but I did want to let them know what happened. Only one of the three companies replied — Trilogy Jewelry, a small family business.
Not only did Trilogy Jewelry send us replacements for all NINE of the Om Necklaces we ordered, at no charge to us. They also shipped them by Priority Mail on December 22nd, so that we received the order on December 24th, just in time for Christmas.
I’ve loved the Om symbol since my first meditation. It represent pure creative Life Energy, the Holy Spirit.
Shanti and I were recently talking about how objects trigger memories. Some people might even say the object carries the vibration of the event. To me, every one of these necklaces now carries not only a reminder of the Divine but also the vibration and the memory of generosity and human kindness. That’s quite a gift!
If you love doing business with companies that have heart, check out Trilogy Jewelry. And the necklaces are beautiful!