A few weeks ago, in an attempt to ground myself and settle into the present moment, I drew myself a salt bath. I had been busy busy all day and needed a moment to settle in and allow my physical body to release.
Sometimes when I take a bath, I’ll listen to music or set up my laptop and watch a tv show to zone out, but that day, I remained in the quiet and focused on my breathing.
I started watching the water. The way it moved when I moved. The ripple effect of droplets on the surface. The distortion of my hand as it entered the water.
Over and over again, I began dipping my fingers into the water and pulling them back out, amazed at the almost disappearing of my fingers as they fell below the surface. But when I pulled them out, the truth of my hand remained. All of my fingers were there, the same proportion that they always have been, despite what the water told me.
The water was so quick to change the way that I viewed the reality, that is my hand. It told me a story that was different than what was actually happening.
When we are moving through our daily lives, there are so many things that impact every situation, conversation and environment that we walk into. We have this distortion of the water flowing all around us.
Yesterday, I had this awful interaction with my sister. I’m still so upset about it. And now I just had a fight with my best friend about something that wasn’t even a problem.
Have you ever experienced something similar? Yeah, me too. This is the same as when someone gets “hangry” or hungry angry!
If we imagine the water as emotions, trauma and stories that are constantly swirling around us, coming in and out of our daily lives, we might start to notice how this water impacts other parts of our day, conversations and situations.
Oh. I’m not actually upset with my best friend, I’m upset with this past interaction.
This self-observation takes incredible amounts of practice, vulnerability, compassion and non-judgement.
It’s not an easy practice, by far. But it can bring us to a different level of TRUTH. By being present with my emotions and listening to myself deeply to understand what it is that I’m experiencing, I can be more true to myself and to those around me. I can be more present.
Where do we even begin?
Get quiet with yourself.
Take 1 minute. Take a big inhale and sigh it out through the mouth. Scan down through the body, from the head all the way to the toes. Notice the sensations that are present - physical sensations, emotions and thoughts. Allow everything to be as it is and build a picture of what you are feeling in your body. Know that there is no right or wrong.
You can practice this before you eat a meal, before you get out of your car to walk into a restaurant or in the morning as you drink your coffee. The more you practice, the more awareness you’ll bring to what you are feeling.
Notice your stories.
Just like the scenario above about getting upset with my best friend, I noticed the story. We create stories in our heads about what we think is happening, sometimes before it’s even happened. Have you ever planned a conversation hours or even days before it has happened? (me too!)
Notice when the story is taking place. When you find yourself acting out a scenario or find yourself emotional about something and taking it out on someone else, come to the saying Is this real? Is this true? Notice if the answer is yes or no and then move to the most important and most difficult part:
Find compassion and non-judgement for yourself.
The most difficult and most transformative piece of this practice. I like to phrase it to myself as this: Even though that didn’t go the way that I would have liked it to, I still deeply love and accept myself. I appreciate this place that I am, in this practice of self-observation with compassion and non-judgement.
While this is not my full mantra every time something goes not-according-to-plans or I’m telling myself a story that’s not true, it’s important to note one major detail of this affirmation: I still deeply love and accept myself.
Will I do it better next time? Maybe. Maybe not. Regardless, I deeply love and accept myself, no matter what.
Keep saying it. Even if it doesn’t feel true. Especially if it doesn’t feel true.
With consistent practice, it becomes engrained in the body and becomes habit more than practice. (More on that in a future post)
Are you practicing this already? Can you relate? Write your questions or comments below!
Sending big love always ~ Mackenzie