We were in the middle of Ikea (an hour and a half away from home) when we heard our son broke his thumb. It was Friday and traffic was heavy. We were finally trying to make time for a project in our kitchen to create work space for our children. This project is overdue and we finally were making the time for it.
We rushed back home. And then on Saturday, we were able to get him a cast and we spent the day resting. The mess we started in the kitchen would have to wait.
But then Sunday came – and that’s the start of our work week. Brian works at our local parish, I’m with the kiddos and we make nourishing food for the upcoming week.
I promised myself I wouldn’t rush throughout the day. I promised that I wouldn’t rush my children’s little nervous systems. I was trying to be super patient. But it had already been a long day. My son’s hand itched. My daughter was tired. And it was time to go back over to church for “religious ed” (it’s so much better than it sounds!) where I teach a community yoga experience.
This community yoga experience — I’m honored to say that it has had a waiting list every year for the last five years. This indicates to me how sacred it is for parents to “take time out.” This indicates to me that we don’t need MORE INFORMATION for our BRAINS….we need nourishing EXPERIENCES for our BODIES.
Yes, our senses are on overload. We are pulled in a million different directions. We are “compassion fatigued” with all that is going on in the world. And this fall in particular here in the United States, many (many) of us are disgusted with what is happening in our Presidential election.
So back to getting ready for Sunday night religious ed where I’m about to teach a heart-body-spirit nourishing experience – I’m running upstairs to get dressed in my yoga clothes and I sense the overwhelm in me. I sense the tiredness.
In that very moment, I choose to go all “Thich Nhat Hanh” and BE RIGHT HERE.
I choose to be attentive to THIS VERY MOMENT – feeling the soles of my feet on the bamboo floor in our bedroom, noticing the afternoon light filtering into our windows, the whisper of my breath breathing me, and the softness of my hands against my bare skin slowly putting on my yoga clothes.
I walk downstairs and I’m better able to respond to the tiredness of my children with compassion. I’m more resourced – I have more capacity – to not get overwhelmed by our “kitchen project” that is still in process – with artwork on the kitchen island and wooden boards still in the middle of the floor.
As we are in the car and driving to church, I turn to Brian and say, “Is there anything we can cut out?” He knows what I’m talking about. We feel – dare I say it – busy.
And as we talk about it, I think about how heard the same thing again and again in sessions with Compassion Coaching and Psychotherapy clients just over the last few weeks. I heard it in the workshops that I facilitated.
“Lisa, I feel overwhelmed.”
“There’s so much negativity out there.”
“We are doing too much but I don’t know what to change or how to change it.”
“I still don’t seem to be able to schedule ME time – time for my own self-care.”
“Lisa, this election is just disgusting. I want to tune it all out but I can’t.”
Yes, this fall feels different. Usually in mid-October, the weather has changed and it’s not so hot. There’s a renewed sense of gentle aliveness – people being outdoors going to pumpkin patches and apple picking.
But this year, don’t you feel the overwhelm and negativity? I asked my friend Rachel what it’s about. “Well, the election doesn’t help,” she said.
Whether it’s the presidential election or “something in the air” right now, I see that we need practices for nourishing ourselves, renewing our sense of connection, getting grounded, and channeling the energy within us (and in our country) in ways that are uplifting, renewing and compassionate.
Maybe, like my family’s life, your October “is what it is” – with sports, activities and this election. And what needs to change isn’t more MANAGING and better SCHEDULING ON THE OUTSIDE, but rather more TENDER CARE on the INSIDE.
I’d like to offer three practices to support you in healing the overwhelm, resting the senses and uplifting your spirit:
- Learn to Pause.
- Practice the Sacred Pause. We need little moments of pausing to come back home to ourselves. These little moments can be so nourishing. You can see my youtube video for a 7 minute Sacred Pause, learn the elements, and then make it your own. You can also find it in my store to download onto your computer and phone so you have it wherever you go.
- Pause before you respond. Someone you know posts something that triggers you. PAUSE.
- Tend to what is here within you with compassion. Ask yourself, “What’s the compassionate response?” – for yourself and the other person. It may be “turn off social media” or “take a walk” or “see the good in the other person.”
It’s really awesome to teach your children to do the Sacred Pause, too! Three breaths or three minutes, it’s a game changer for the whole family.
2. Take a Sensory Break. Our senses are on overload. Our minds are decision-fatigued. Little breaks of tending to our senses through an embodiment practice can be so deeply nourishing and supportive for our overwhelmed and frazzled nervous systems. Cup hands around your eyes, then around your ears. And then “sweep” or massage the body – from head to toe.
3. Orient toward Pleasure. I’ve been sharing this somatic experiencing practice a lot lately with my Compassion Coaching clients! Ahhhhh….when I shared this one in the yoga experience I teach at church, I heard exhales of relief and bubbling delight. YES – pleasure. I’m talking about orienting your attention toward what is pleasurable to you — what nourishes your nervous system, what raises your vibration.
~ When you wash your hands, feel the warm water against your skin.
~ Notice how good it feels to put on a warm sweater and feel the coolness of fall arriving.
~ Walk barefoot on the earth – feel how enjoyable and healing it is to feel the soles of your feet on the earth.
~ When your child talks to you, posture yourself so you give him or her your full attention and notice the beauty in yoru child – the sound of her voice, the freckles on his face.
~ When your beloved walks into the room, take a moment to appreciate him/her – his quiet way of being devoted to you and your family, her loving way of seeing the deeper needs of the family. Notice the energy – the tingling and spaciousness – in your heart.
These pauses, sensory breaks, and moments of orienting our attention toward what is pleasurable are practices we can bring into our everyday lives. They are a sacred response to overwhelming and negative times. When practices in little doses many times in our day, we create the space for “something new to happen” – something lighter, more nourishing, more resourcing, and more uplifting. They soothe an overwhelmed nervous system. They reconnect us to our own bodies and what is most sacred to us.
I’d love to hear how you practices these gems in your everyday life! Please share!
And, as each of us nourishes our nervous systems and respond from a wiser, calmer place within us — we begin to shift the cultural tone from one of negativity to compassion.
*As you sense this “call to pause,” have you considered Compassion Coaching? It’s sacred space to really learn and experience these and other mindfulness and compassion practices. Check it out. Create the space for “something different to happen” – in your nervous system, home, and life and reconnect to what the “deepest self” wants. Finally.