I woke up on a recent rainy morning feeling a little down, sad, maybe a bit lonely and simply wondering: “What is the point of the mundane that I am expected to arise and complete today?”
I have never been the type of person that awakes in a hurry to get stuff done.
I like slow mornings and usually spend as much time as possible in contemplation, meditation or prayer.
These three activities bring peace to my thoughts and inspire me to go through my day less as an exercise in doing and more as an expression of being. I am not always successful though and that morning felt like one of those “blocked” days.
My to do list was long—things didn’t feel like they were happening with ease and all I wanted was to curl back up and watch Pretty Woman. I’ll admit to knowing almost every line in the movie and at that moment was relating intimately to the scene where she is taking a bubble bath and singing “Kiss” by Prince. (What a great scene!)
But I’m evolved enough to realize that my borderline apathy might have been the result of resistance.
When I jotted resistance into my dictionary app, the first definition was: “refusal to accept or comply with something.” As I type I’m recalling that just the other night I attended a new spiritual circle where we express the prevalent difficult emotion we are experiencing and then rate the magnitude of it between one and five. I called out resistance and gave it a three out of five. Ah, bingo!
One of my favorite turn-arounds for this state of resistance is to look for the “Yes” in my life.
I am guilty of not seeing the frequent, if miniscule, moments wherein the universe is saying an emphatic yes to me, to my wants, to my dreams and to the evolution of my consciousness. It is those guilty times when curling up with a movie is not satisfying because it isn’t really nurturing me, offering a needed respite from responsibility or a means of touching base with myself. I am using it to run away. I’m not saying running away is all-bad, but we can overuse it and sadly, we don’t get the recharge we were looking for.
Rick Hanson, Ph.D. wrote: “The alarm bell of your brain—the amygdala…uses about two-thirds of its neurons to look for bad news: it’s primed to go negative. Once it sounds the alarm, negative events and experiences get quickly stored in memory—in contrast to positive events and experiences, which usually need to be held in awareness for a dozen or more seconds to transfer from short-term memory buffers to long-term storage.” Rick further states: “…positive experiences last by staying with them five, 10 even 20 seconds; don’t let your attention skitter off to something else.”
What I learned is it takes a nanosecond for a negative experience to get stored away forever so that we can pull it out and prove the negative emotion we are entertaining right now, and it takes mindful presence (20 seconds is a long time) to truly memorialize something delicious!
Now my process of looking for “Yes” goes something like this:
1. Acknowledge that I am not seeing the good, am resisting or am otherwise negative or fear-focused. Check! Our bodies, feelings and thoughts are pretty strong indicators of the possibility that we are not aligned with “yes.” In this case, my cues were awaking physically unmotivated to go to yoga, feeling down instead of enthusiastic about my day and going up into my head questioning the point of the things I needed to do.
2. Accept whatever it is that I am resisting, thinking or feeling that is initiating the negative experience. With a bit of consideration, I became aware that I was resisting the changes in my life. I was focused upon the past and what I used to do instead of the present moment and the options that were right here, right now.
3. Alter my perception. I sat down and journaled about the things in my life that were flowing without obstruction. I found that I am writing and being published; I happened upon a spiritual circle that is nurturing, deep and aligned with my values; I live in a gorgeous place where I ride my bike in shorts nearly every day and I am blessed to have landed four new clients over the past two weeks. Trusting what Rick teaches about the brain, I sat with each of these positive experiences. Being a classic overachiever, I meditated upon each one for two full minutes.
4. Align with Yes. The result of holding my most recent positive experiences in my awareness was a deep sense of excitement and enthusiasm. I was not only grateful for what had already come to me but was confident that there was plenty more on the horizon. I went into my day open, available and actively seeking the “Yes” moments.
While life doesn’t always send us the most delicious “Yes,” learning to feed off the small bites helps us await the banquet that is being prepared just for us.
Author: Carin Aichele
Editor: Nicole Cameron
Image: Hernán Piñera/Flickr