Here I am! Half way through the summer break and believe me, I have taken no breaks. With both girls home with me on my days off, I have had little time to devote to all of my practices, and writing seems to take last place is the order of my weekly goals. But that doesn’t mean that I haven’t been continuing on my path. While the summer brings lots more activities, later nights, and busy weekends, I always make time to continue my yoga practice, and mindfulness finds it’s way into my everyday. When life gets hectic that’s when it’s most important to take those breaks in the day to find the breath and a quiet moment, or two, to check in and to say I love you to myself.
I think the biggest excuse for lack of self-care, and I’m guilty of this as well, is the lack of time. But what’s amazing is how much time we do actually have for just even the least bit of mindfulness. Even a 10 second deep inhalation and exhalation can bring us to a place that was better than where we were before. Who doesn’t have 10 seconds? Here are a few opportunities I find to take some breaths:
At a stop light. This is huge. I spend about 45 minutes in the car each day. There are probably 10-15 stoplights that I stop at. Each one is 1.5-2 minutes long. That’s an average of about 20 minutes that could be spent in my day deep breathing, (or at least trying to ignore the screaming children in the back seat. That part is almost impossible, but I try.)
While cooking dinner. A watched pot never boils, but how about instead of watching that pot, we take those 8 minutes to check in with our body and breathe, find a strong Mountain Pose, close your eyes, or just observe the mind and what we are thinking.
Before falling asleep. This is a big one. I find I’m often just collapsing into bed at the end of the day, turning the TV on, and passing out, all the while missing a great opportunity to lay for a few minutes in silence; freeing my mind of the days events and being thankful for getting through it.
Upon waking. Another big one, especially when many days there is a toddler standing by my bedside, willing me to wake up with her manipulative gaze. But even before I jump out of bed and start pouring cereal (and my coffee), I take a minute or two to center my body, feel where my energy is at, and set an intention.
These all sound so easy but remembering to do them is the hardest part. It’s really about doing them frequently enough that they become a habit. Like in the car, for instance, at those stop lights, I almost always want to reach for my phone, out of habit. Now I keep my bag in the back seat, out of reach, so I have no choice but to sit and observe, whether it be myself and my surroundings. By doing this I’m guaranteed to get to my destination calmer, and safer, and when I’m less distracted, I’m less likely to experience road rage or rushing.
That’s what the purpose of all of this really boils down to; trying to find a deeper sense of calm in my busy day. To be able to sit down after a 90 minute battle at bedtime and find peace and go to bed smiling. To know after a long and stressful workday that I can retreat to my car and take a few deep breaths and let the tension melt away. To look forward to waking up half an hour early because I know it will give me a few seconds of alone time. Because life isn’t going to slow down for me any time soon. The weeks keep ticking by, there will always be work to be done, and the children will always need something! But that is all ok as long as I’m ok. And I can be ok as long as I allow myself the time and freedom to be…ok.
So let’s all promise to check in with ourselves more throughout the day. And I’ll promise to try to check in more frequently here as well. Because even doing this gives me that opportunity to find out where my head is at, and maybe even discover that there are a few people out there dealing with the same tensions that I am and we can somehow help each other, by holding ourselves accountable and saying, “I will try too!”