I’ve learned quite a bit over the past year and maybe one of the most important things is the value of a [ clarity break ], which I was reminded of just last Tuesday, the 17th.
I had arrived at work wicked early, 7:15 am to be exact, to knock out some detailed work before everyone started arriving. You see I work in a busy, mid-sized dermatology practice where my makeshift desk is in the middle of a hallway. Not the most conducive location to be writing content, editing the website or for concentration of any kind, really. (NOTE: This is no secret, it’s been discussed with my managers and unfortunately there’s no other place for me to go in the office. I work remote one full day a week and during peak patient times, I try to do my best staying focused and in the zone!) I thought I’d found the answer in arriving long before my coworks, but this was far from what happened. You know those times when everyone needs to talk to you about something? People who don’t ask you questions, have questions. The printer and phone start going off simultaneously, and the noise level seems so astoundingly loud that even your headphones and the podcast coming through can’t dull it out? Yea. It was one of those mornings.
Inside, I could feel it. The annoyance – the frustration – it was starting to bubble like a pot of water on the stove. Previously when I was only trying to think positively all the time, I would insist on sticking it out and trying to think of one positive thought after another and wait for the bad feelings to magically disappear from my conscious. Let’s be serious here, positive thinking is WONDERFUL! It really can work miracles for a mental shift and I’m always a fan of trying to see the positive in situations, but realistically a few simple positive thoughts don’t always do the trick. Sometimes you need to physically remove yourself from the environment to get that mind shift. You need a break. A quick and simple clarity break.
And that is exactly what I did. I recognized I was on the crazy train so I promptly put on my jacket, grabbed my keys and headed for the parking lot.
Sitting in frustration, allowing the annoyances inside to fester and grow wouldn’t have done me or my work any good.
I ran down the street to a coffee shop, placed my order and while my drink was being made, took advantage of those few minutes to get back to my center. I returned to my work station feeling a little lighter and ready to get back to my day. The noise, traffic and every day occurrences were still there, however I had simply shifted my mental state to where they just didn’t seem to bother me as much. And that is the beauty of a clarity break.
Now I know not everyone has a flexible work schedule that allows leaving to happen, and believe me it hasn’t always been the case for me, but here’s a few other places I’ve escaped too for a clarity break: the patient privacy room, electrical closet, staff bathroom, gone for a walk outside my office, heck I’ve even sat in my car in the parking lot for 8 minutes! The key is what happens during this break:
- Each time I take a clarity break, I breathe deeply, in and out of the nose, whispering the word “let” on the inhale and “go” on the exhale in my mind. I’ll do this for no less than 3 concentrated breaths and usually I stop at 5 (unless it’s a really cray cray moment I’m escaping!).
- After my concentrated breathing, I’ll start shifting my mind to something that makes me feel like I’m smiling from inside. For me, it’s images of the ocean, my goddaughter Bean, or something that’s on my vision board, but it can really be anything in the world depending on who you are. The key is that it’s got to make your heart smile, not just your lips. Something you’re truly truly grateful for and connected to.
- Hold this image for a few moments until there’s nothing left but that feeling from inside, take a few more deep breaths and then open your eyes.
Mental.shift.like.woah. You can do this in as few as 3 or 4 minutes and sometimes that’s all it takes to stop the spiraling crazy train dead in it’s tracks. It’s so simple, yet so effective. How had I not discovered this 4 years ago?! (oh wait – I was a totally different person 4 years ago…. 😉 )
Moral of the story: Clarity breaks help keep the circus in check. Know what I’m saying, boo?
Until next time, xxo
I mentioned in my last post that I’d be discussing one of my top tools for letting go and without further a do, that top and *one of my most favorite* tool is ……
You read that correctly. Meditation is my favorite tool for helping me to let go. I’ve come so far since being a Meditation School Drop Out in August of 2010. <— reading through that post made me laugh so much.
I started my real journey in meditation about 3 1/2 years ago. I would dabble a little here, return to it after a few days or weeks there. I’d go solid with daily practices during a few 21 day challenges, maybe even keep it going for a few weeks after. There were many different phone apps that came in to play and the more I dove into this practice called meditation, the more I actually started seeing the benefits that so many people had talked about. You guys, they weren’t lying! This stuff is good. Like silent, golden, calm your nerves in wicked bad traffic good!
Last Summer, roughly 4 years after my post about being a Meditation School Drop Out, I made the commitment to myself (and to the benefit of those around me) to go all in on my quest to practice meditation faithfully and daily. Repetition is key when it comes to sitting in silence, I’ve learned, and the benefits amplify the more disciplined you are in your practices. I’m happy to say I’ve stuck to that commitment having only missed a handful of days a month, and for a solid 9 month running, that ain’t bad, yo. In hind sight – holy cannoli – it’s been a HUGE blessing!
You see, through all the craziness of the circus these past few months, there’s been a steady, sometimes whisper silent, calmness that hasn’t left my side. My thoughts have been clear and I’ve been able to identify when my ego was stepping in to throw me off track. I’ve been able to sit and allow my thoughts and feelings and emotions to come and go in a judgement free, safe zone. Imagine sitting on a park bench nestled between sadness and anxiety (or any other highly uncomfortable feeling/emotion/thought) and you’re all just looking back and forth at each other and everyone’s just sitting there and nodding as if to say:
“Yea, we’re here. You should probably just get comfortable with us because we’re gonna be here for a while.”
Then you sit there. And one day they get up and walk away. Sometimes they come back for a bit and that’s ok, too, but then they get up and walk away again and all you have to do is sit there and watch them come and go. Acknowledge them, allow them a safe space to sit and let them be. And meditation helps make that possible. WHO KNEW?!? Well, clearly a lot of people knew, and I guess somewhere deep down inside, I knew, but now I reaaaaally know. Crazy, right? Ahhh the circus, never a dull moment.
I read through and pour over anything I can get my hands on when it comes to meditation. I love Deepak Chopra’s 21 Day Meditation Challenges, I’m an avid follower of Gabby Bernstein, I rarely turn down the opportunity to snag a little Headspace, and much much more. Mantras, mudras, malas – I’m a believer! And as the circus travels along, I’ll fill you in on all of this and more, but before all of that I knew I needed to confess that not only have I re-enrolled in meditation school, I’m practically going for my master’s degree. And I love it. I absolutely love it! And it’s hard for me to imagine where I’d be today with out it. Literally – haha!
Eating my words? Yes, yes I am. But these days, at least I’m doing so mindfully.
Until next time, xxo
ps – Happy Ash Wednesday!! Today marks the start of my most favorite season on the religious calendar, you know. 🙂