Sunday, May 20, 2012

Strength and Endurance: Mental Athletics

I have varying and fickle feelings about psychology and psychotherapy. I have been to a handful of counselors and psychologists and therapists and feel that they are usually helpful for a few visits and then the problem is solved or discovered unsolvable and that’s that.

Two things have changed my feelings about shrinks and getting shrunk:
1.     I found a shrink that I like. She is cool and very smart. And calls me out and points out how I drop huge and small emotional bombs in the course of normal conversation and how most people probably don’t call me on anything—and they certainly can’t "unpack" the weight of the heavily-emotional and cleverly concealed bombs that I drop, etc. She can. She is good at her job. I respect her.
2.     If I don’t figure myself out a little better, I am going to ruin my life and my daughter’s. Now or never.

What is distraction and what is real? All day we have mental distractions that aren't substantive but function as a place for our minds to escape the present. In a meeting, I will think about groceries and menus for the week--for example. 

To have a distraction-free mind is insanely challenging, especially for brilliant thinkers and over-caffeinated busybodies constantly thinking and challenging and dreaming and moving and shaking. 

My goal is to clear my mind of the past and the future—not easy, but necessary in the course of my personal growth and therapy.  I focus, or strive to focus on the present…what is happening now, right here in this place, in this moment in time. Easier said than done, but the exercise and practice of it forces the mind to a focal point. What am I receiving through use of my senses at this moment? How does my body feel? My mind? My heart? 

It’s very interesting to do these miniature check-ins on the daily. If you've never tried it, it's cool. That's why all those yogi people are so fucking mellow and calm and shit. (I find it insanely fun to try and get them all riled up.)

The practice of focus (which of course, is what yoga and meditation are), the practice itself, makes you more present in your life. It also becomes automatic. I am checking in without even thinking much about it. 

When I get that panicky feeling and start to feel like I am going to be buried alive, I make myself check in…how does your body feel? Shoes are too tight. Take them off. Check. Next, spine is slumpy. Sit up and take a breath. Check. Roll shoulders back and drop them away from your ears. Breath. Check. What does my heart feel? Check, please. 

Doing this keeps me calm (calmer.) I am not so weighted down by the past. I am not in full panic about the future. I am here right now. I am alive. I have sensations and feelings and thoughts and motivations and desires and neutral moments and joy and sadness all in these moments right here. I don't have to live in the past to be happy. I cannot live in the future. I am right fucking here. See me. 

It seems so silly as I type it and think it. But it feels so true to me. I have to be here right now. This is how I get clarity. This is how I have peace. This is how I love. This is how I decide. 

This is making me strong, more patient, more ready. I am stronger. I am agile. I have some peace and a little more space. It's good. It's better. 

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