Lately I’ve been feeling drained, like my life force is seeping out of me. Absent any other symptoms indicating illness, I’ve been puzzled by this general malaise. Last night I gave it some focused thought. What is different in my life? What has changed in recent weeks? Two things came to mind.
First, I’ve been spending a lot more time online looking at the news. I don’t have a TV anymore, but apparently that doesn’t stop me from overindulging in screen time. Click click click. Read this article. Watch this video. Just one more. I hadn’t fully appreciated the toll that takes. It’s like stuffing yourself with toxic junk food, except that it doesn’t taste as good as powdered sugar donuts. It feels icky.
So this morning I went back to my usual avoidance of the incessant drumbeat of outrage. That doesn’t make me an uninformed or uncaring citizen. It makes me sane. I’m saying it makes me sane – I’m not speaking for anyone else. The urge several times today to just take a peek made me realize how this addictive habit had infiltrated my life.
Second, I realized that my usual practices of martial arts and meditation had been shortchanged recently because of some other commitments, primarily helping my grandson with his remote learning every day. That is an important commitment to me, and I enjoy my time with him, but it has definitely affected my daily routines that nurture my body and my inner well being.
So this morning, I got up and made sure to carve out enough time to spend with some cleansing qigong exercises and an extra long time of meditation. After the school work was finished this afternoon, I practiced with my martial arts weapons and took a long walk. I may not be able to fit that much in every day, but I see now that for me, it needs to be a priority that I honor better than I have been lately.
As I went through my day today, the phrase that kept coming to me was “back to basics.” Going back to what I know works for me. Nothing fancy. Simple. Like ABC.
Attend. One of my favorite words. It calls me to the present moment. It guides me to suspend my inner chatter and to look and listen. Pay attention.
Breathe. You’ve probably heard me say before that everything we need to know, we can learn from breathing. Breathing is our best teacher, mentor, guide. Everything is in the breath.
Center. We all have some sort of practice that centers us. For me, it is martial arts and meditation. For some it is prayer. Or yoga, art, music. Or a walk. Or a bubble bath (I like that one too.) Whatever brings you back to yourself in this moment. Fully present. Fully balanced. Aware. Awake.
My straying away from these basics over recent weeks has shown me how essential they are to my well being. I am ending this day feeling better than I have in a while.
I hope that if you are struggling with all the things happening in our world right now, if you feel the drain of stress or anxiety, you will take some time to identify what is basic for you, and then give yourself permission to honor what will sustain you and nurture you.
We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves. ~the Dalai Lama