I have a problem. And if you’ve been reading this blog, that statement won’t surprise you.
My thoughts take me for a ride and it’s a wild one. I’ve gone from being perfectly calm one minute…and the next minute gesturing wildly, face screwed up, whisper-arguing with a person who is not there. I can feel agitation in my belly and an increase in breathing and heartrate.
The story takes off.
I have a solo argument with an invisible adversary. Sometimes it’s someone I know, rehashing past hurts; other times it’s an imaginary situation that my brain concocted, a fear of the future. Regardless, there is always some form of negative state change involved.
In the past, I would have barreled along like a runaway freight train, exhausting and unnerving myself. It became a habit, like an itch I needed to scratch. It was so hard to stop those thoughts once the train started rolling along.
Mindfulness changed that, but it took time to develop awareness. I learned to ask one very simple question of myself as soon I realize that I’m being swept away by that torrent of brain activity.
Three simple words: where am I?
This works like magic for me. It’s instant grounding.
That’s because the train screeches to a halt and I shake off the mental noise and look around myself. I’m usually somewhere alone. There’s often some far away street hum or something else not very intrusive. I feel where my body makes contact with whatever surface I’m on.
I am HERE. And in this moment, I am safe. Regardless of all the thoughts that suggest otherwise, I am safe.
It doesn’t mean that there aren’t problems that will need solving or work that needs to be done. But all that noise that was panicking me just a bit ago? I am reminded that it doesn’t exist right now. And right now is the only moment that matters.
Three simple words. Man, if I’d known this years ago, I could have saved myself so much heartache. But at least I know now. And now, so do you.