Step Back to Basics

It’s summer. The sun has mostly been out, everything is growing, the birds sing joyfully, and my dogs roll around in the grass. 

I love summer, but haven’t quite felt like I’m enjoying it. I’m busy and jumping from one event to another, one project to another, one unnecessary activity to another. 

I need to slow down and get back on track. How do I do that?

The first thought that came to mind is step back to basics. To me that means cutting back on what stresses me and fill it with what nourishes me and makes me happy. 

Here are some ways to step back to basics:

1. Cut back on what I don’t enjoy doing. Of course there are times when I have obligations to fill. I’m not someone who enjoys housework, but I make it better by listening to music or an audiobook or setting a timer to see how much I can get done. 

2. Go for a walk. Nothing slows me down and brings perspective quicker than taking my dogs for a walk. 

3. Listen to music. Discover new types or artists. 

4. Make time for a hobby that you love. If you don’t have one, then figure one out. Maybe it’s carving wood, painting, hiking, reading, pottery, photography, learning an instrument or language. What brings you joy?

5. Shut down the technology. My son yelled at me this morning as I’m using my phone to blog. He wanted me to talk to him and not get caught up in social media. I put my phone down until he left for work! It’s so easy to get dragged into someone else’s drama and not even know what the drama is! We feed off everyone’s negative responses. Stick to the facts and call that person if you are concerned. 

6. Be Still. Sit outside and enjoy the sounds, scents, and sights around you. Be in that moment. Or if you have a garden connect to nature and the earth. 

7. Unclutter your life by getting rid of what you don’t use and either give it to someone or recycle it. 

8. Eat close to home and food that is simple and fresh. Farmer’s Markets are abundant. Eat fresh and organic when you can. Eat what nourishes you. 

Here is a list of markets in the Capital District

Cut out the fluff and activities that don’t serve you. Do what moves you and makes your heart and body feel lighter. This takes listening to yourself and not loading your life up so much that your spirit is tamped down. 

There is nothing wrong with slowing down and getting back to basics. It also means getting back to the foundation of who you are. 

How will you step back to basics?

The Dogs Ruined my Meditation!

Yes I know. Quite adorable Zoey and Dakota

I sat in my library where I usually do my meditation. The dogs like to be in there, and it’s better than them banging on the door to be let in. They will calmly sit at my feet. This morning they kept barking at our neighbor’s dog as they walked by, they chomped loudly on a bone, and basically were a nuisance. I got mad and said, “You are ruining my meditation!” What did they do? Went back to barking and chewing.

That got me to pause. My dogs weren’t ruining anything. They were being dogs. By barking at Bindi walking by, they could be protecting their space and me. Or they could be saying, “Let’s play together!” Chewing on their bone is part of their daily routine, and I’m sure satisfies some craving.

They didn’t ruin my meditation. I let outside forces affect my inner calm. It’s easy to be calm and centered when life appears that way. But when the dogs of life let loose or those black clouds appear, all the yoga, meditation, and calming techniques can blow up in your face if they aren’t practiced daily.

I wondered about one technique that I could do before I got upset or overwhelmed and would help me get centered. In meditation one cue is to always reconnect to a part of your body that is touching something–your feet on the floor, your back to the chair or your fingertips touching. I usually connect with my fingertips touching and feel the energy in my palms. This simple act brings me back to the present moment and allows me to pause before reacting. I could have done that this morning and realize that yes the dogs are being loud, but I can choose how I react.

I’m going to try this during my day when stressors and emotions get the best of me. It takes a conscious effort, and about 21 days to create a habit. If the black clouds in life get the best of me, then I will take a deep breath and start over again.

What stressors or crises do you currently have in your life? Write them down and why they are stressing you. What is a simple technique that you can incorporate into your daily routine to pull you out of the downward spiral of emotional stress? For example, keeping a stone in your pocket and rubbing it; carrying worry, mala or rosary beads that can be held or counted. Rubbing your hands together to create heat and a connection to you. It can be anything that immediately places you in your body.

Try it out and let me know what works for you.

What’s Cooking?

Photo by Alysia Thomas

Life can be so scattered. I often have too many pots on the burner and spread myself too thin. I tell myself that there are so many things I want to do. Life is too short. I have to get it all in now!

Instead of cooking what nourishes, I just add more stuff that in turn adds stress, because I’m ignoring what I really want. Then when my pots boil over and there is chaos in my kitchen of life, I wonder how it happened and get mad at myself.

When I remove all the burnt pots and the smoke has cleared, I see what matters. There is one pot on my stove that is steadily heating up, engaging all my senses,  and drawing my energy. This is what I want cook. This is what will nourish me. So I add only what will sustain it, what I truly need. Everything else can be on the back burner, until it’s time for it to cook or I decide that it will go in the trash.

How many pots do you have burning? Which one figuratively and literally nourishes you? Decide today and get cooking.