I was hoping for a relaxing summer. I had plans for sitting on my deck with a good book, spending time in the garden with my herbs, soaking in the sun, beach days and picnics at parks. My plans came to a screeching halt with farm babies needing to be fed, my kiddos’ activities and keeping my family fed. Life still needed to happen.
With the chaos quickly burring my plans, I began to find myself with a short fuse. I may have even dropped the f-bomb once or twice. And the moment I realized I was maybe in an “unhealthy emotional state” was during a driving incident. I was running errands. Time was not on my side. And why is it that when you’re in a hurry, all the slow people are ahead of you in the fast lane?
I was fed up with a semi that had so conveniently cut me off. When he didn’t return to his own lane, I decided to maneuver around him. I pulled into the slow lane and started to pass, and, of course, that’s when he decides to put his blinker on to get over. That’s when I heard these words fly out of my mouth: “You better not f*$&*!@ cut me off again a*$&!%*.” WHAT???!!!!!
I looked in the rear-view mirror to find two sets of eyes bugging out of their innocent little heads. The “Mom lost it – don’t say a word” look was written all over their faces.
That’s when I laughed really hard, and then my kids laughed, too. In that moment, I remembered a mindfulness practice that I learned during April Hadley’s mindfulness course at Grand Rapids Center for Mindfulness. It takes routine activities like driving and transforms them into a mindful activity that keeps you anchored, so your emotions and thoughts don’t get in the way of staying in the present moment. I enjoy this because you can apply it anywhere: folding laundry, brushing your teeth, grocery shopping, etc… To do this we just have to set an intention to pay attention.
Let’s take driving, for example. Set the intention for your hand to be the physical sensation to anchor you for your attention. Pay attention to how the steering wheel feels. Is it hot or cold? How are you holding the steering wheel? What is the texture?
When you notice your attention moving away to a thought, acknowledge the thought and return your attention to the sensation of the steering wheel.
When you notice a physical sensation somewhere other than your hands, acknowledge that sensation and return to your anchor, the steering wheel.
The easiest way to start practicing this is to choose a simple activity. If you’re at home, you could set a timer in the beginning. Try vacuuming, sweeping or drinking tea or coffee. The more you do it, the easier it’ll be to put this into practice when life doesn’t go according to plan.
If you’re interested in other mindfulness practices, I would highly recommend contacting Grand Rapids Center for Mindfulness.
Author: Angela McElroy is a naturopathic practitioner with a special interest in children’s health. She treats both acute and chronic conditions including allergies, digestive concerns, skin complaints (boils, rash, eczema), nutritional deficiencies, and childhood illnesses. Angela works to support, encourage, balance, and bring healing to children and families struggling with ADHD, anger, anxiety, and other emotional imbalances.