Last September, I embarked on a self-care journey for my life after 60. Facing major health issues in 2019 with bladder cancer recurrence and a twisted colon, I said I was going to slow down and take more time for being instead of constantly doing.
With the start of the new decade in January, I wrote more about how I intended to move into 2020 with mindfulness. I declared allow as my inspirational word.
Today, sitting in the middle of a pandemic, I am deeply in need of my inspirational word allow to guide me as I navigate my self-care journey. Being mindful has taken on new significance in quarantine. Watching the numbers of deaths mount up around the country and around the world is scary. Maneuvering through sadness and fears about Covid-19, I’m missing camaraderie with my friends and hugs from my daughter A and son D. Like everyone else, I’m wondering when this will all end and what the new normal will be when it does.
From grief to gratitude
There are moments when I drift into deep grief for what the near future holds as Covid-19 continues to do it’s physical and emotional damage until there is a vaccine or herd immunity.
Thinking back to how I dealt with my grief after losing my spouse, I tend to not stay too long with these feelings of despair. Instead, I bring myself back into the present, and think about how grateful I am for all that I have and all that I can do right here, right now.
I am managing through my health issues and Covid19 has not caught up with any of my family or close friends to date. I am grateful that I have a comfortable home to relax in, my boyfriend L nearby for companionship, friends and extended family whom I love and who love me, and nutritious food to fuel my body.
I’ve tried to support my small circle where I can. Making masks with my sewing machine, donating to the local community food bank, having girlfriends’ get-togethers via Zoom and just being there for a phone call to listen to those who need an ear.
Way too much doing when I’m supposed to be slowing down
Lately, I’ve felt restless and am easily distracted by the abundance of screen time that consumes my days. With everything moving online, I could go from morning to night with invites to yoga classes, blogging conferences, group meditations, wellness retreats, television programming, 24/7 news outlets, podcasts, and more.
Instead of slowing down, I find my hours filling up even more than before. There goes my Type A personality kicking in:
Ooh, ooh, ooh that Yoga Alliance webinar sounds interesting and I can get CEU credits if I participate live. On the calendar it goes.
Ooh, ooh, ooh, here comes a request from a publicist to review a new book, it sounds like I would like it and so would my readers. Downloading it to my Kindle now.
Ooh, ooh, ooh, a friend says to try Zumba. Of course I will, especially at home with no one around for me to step on their toes. Sneakers are laced ready for a cardio workout.
Ooh, ooh, ooh, maybe I’ll take up sewing again. My new sewing machine has arrived and Judi’s wartime sewing center is open for business, making masks for all (that is until I run out of elastic and cannot find anyplace that has anymore anywhere after countless hours of searching). Maybe I’ll switch from mask-making to sewing those curtains I’ve been wanting to make for the past 9 years.
Pulling in the reins on a galloping horse
Whoa! I’m like a galloping horse this month. I’m a galloping horse that cannot stop doing. Doesn’t sound like quarantine has slowed me down. My daily list of three things has morphed into six. I need to tighten the reins before burnout resurfaces.
Becoming the hero of my self-care journey
I was inspired to take a step back this week after listening to a webinar by yoga teacher Jafar Alexander. During his lecture, Jafar recommended that one of the ways to become the hero of your own story is to meet your mentor. He said your mentor doesn’t have to be a person. It can be a thing. He said your breath is probably the best mentor.
“Your breath can tell you who you are and how you are. Our breath touches everything in our life. The way you breathe affects the nervous system and your brain and your mind,” said Jafar. “When we breathe it touches all the layers of who we are. Breath becomes our mentor because it helps us see the whole field not just the one flower. It relates to all aspects of your self.”
Moving closer to my higher self
Jafar encouraged Type A people like me to not be doing so many things because I have to do them, or need to do them, but because I want to do them.”
When reflecting on my self-care journey, Jafar said to ask myself: “What practices are moving me down the branches of the tree and taking me away from my higher self? And what are those practices that take me towards my greater self, or higher in the tree? What tools help me to learn who am I?”
“Don’t look too far into the horizon that you are missing the lesson that is right here at this time,” said Jafar. “We can approach these hard moments and know that this too shall pass. Hard moments pass but hard people last.”
Clearing out the clutter
That’s what I need to do. Clear out the clutter of doing and start being again. It sounds so simple yet is so challenging for me.
I think I’ll begin by reminding myself to take time (maybe multiple times) each day to stop, breathe and be. Stop, breathe and be. Wow-o-wow, I feel better already.
Next, I’m going to close my eyes and meditate with a mantra that I recently learned from yoga teacher Cora Wen. A mantra is a meditation tool. The words when repeated are said to “quiet the habitual fluctuations of our mind and steer us toward our greater self.”
Do you want to join me for this mantra? Come join me. Find a comfortable place to sit. Lower your gaze. Inhale and exhale through the nose. Keep breathing and silently say to yourself:
So Hum, So Hum, So Hum
As I am, so are you.
As you are, so am I.
As I am, I am enough.
I’m feeling calmer already. Are you? And so relaxed. Hope it helps you find a little peace today too.
Be well. Be safe.