Burning Man gave me a lot of time to think. I was supposed to meet up with some well intending friends. Instead, I wound up spending a lot of time alone and in a state of introversion. Sure, I had bouts of typical, social Chelsea, but I needed time away from technology, free of stuff in an environment so that could nurture my soul. Burning Man is like the Las Vegas of spirituality. You feel like you’re on an adult playground, only the sentiment is a little less sleazy.
In my inward state, I read Taking the Leap: Freeing Ourselves of Old Habits and Fears. I’d been exposed to almost everything in the book before, except this time I was receptive.
From Taking the Leap by Pema Chodron:
“Each of us can be an active participant in creating a nonviolent future simply by how we work with shenpa when it arises. How individuals like you and I relate to being hooked, these days, has global implications.”
Shenpa is the state of feeling uneasy.
I was reminded that when I feel insecure, vulnerable, anxious or exposed, I can sit with that. I don’t have to distract the uneasiness away. I can meditate into the space where I feel the pain or discomfort in my body, become conscious of it and let it move through me.
This is when I realized my typical pattern: I feel, distract… feel, distract.
Upon conclusion of the last chapter, I decided that the distractions and numbing agents have to go. If I’m going to lead a conscious life, I can’t drink a glass of wine to change my emotional state. Likewise, hopping on Facebook and mindlessly clicking around won’t lead me where I want to go. Unfortunately, one distraction seems to lead to another. The rollercoaster of quick fixes easily becomes a way of life.
Perhaps the point isn’t to get rid of ups and downs, disappointments and frustrations, but rather to flow with feelings until they dissipate. That way, decisions can be made by choice rather than by default or knee jerk reaction.
Here’s my new plan:
When I’m feeling down, I’ll do something healthy that will improve my physical and mental well being that will benefit me in the long run. I will breath into my thoughts, filling the spaces of the lungs that crave oxygen when the body reverts to a defeated posture. I’ll exercise, meditate, drink herbal tea, paint and write when the mood strikes. Yes…. I’ll be creative, honest and let my imagination run wild.
Want to do a distraction detox with me? Let yourself feel what you feel without naming, judging or distracting your thoughts and physical sensations. Become aware.
Make a list of what you do when you’re feeling lonely, separate or fearful. Then make another list to replace your patterns with new ones that will bring you back to your body and mind in a healthy way.
Distractions & numbing agents in my life:
- Drinking a glass of wine or a beer
- Going to a bar
- Cyber stalking
- Buying new clothes
- Browsing the internet for answers
- Eating junk food
- Mindlessly clicking around on facebook
- Taking a hot baths
- Searching for plane tickets
- Writing in my journal
- Going to Bikram yoga
- Painting anything
- Thinking of 3 things that I’m grateful for that day
- Learning something new
- Eating a salad with all kinds of fun toppings
- Drinking kombucha tea out of a wine glass
So, the truth is… I’m not going to stop taking hot baths or searching for ways to escape to Thailand. But, I’m not going to drink as a default or facebook stalk my way into oblivion anymore. I will attempt to make my actions align with my goals, aspirations and energy.
By exercising more, eating healthy and making choices consciously, I’ll magnify all that’s great instead of squelching my soul with quick fixes that lead down a road I don’t want to go.
I’ll have more time and energy to contribute to the world, to give to others and to lead with purpose. And in the process, I’ll be more true to myself.
Will you join me?