A couple weeks ago, I was feeling overwhelmed. I’m sure it happens to everyone, especially during the holiday season – you’re too busy to even think. It was difficult for me to find time to make dinner, walk the dog, and clean the house, let alone prepare to teach yoga classes and work on my Celebrant projects.
The things that I really want to do take a lot of time and mental space. How could I find more time for the activities that feed my soul, when I barely had time for what I needed to do? The answer could not be to add more to my schedule.
And then I had a revelation while driving around, running errands: what I need is more space, not more time. I immediately turned the radio off. I used that 20-minute drive to just pay attention to what I was doing. And immediately, ideas started popping into my head about the class I wanted to teach that night.
I started looking at all of my time differently. No more podcasts during walks with the dog – that is now 40 minutes a day for watching the change in seasons, looking at clouds, and laughing at my dog. Along the way, I naturally start to process, dream, plan, and mentally create.
It makes me more efficient with the time I have. I feel less frenzied. Less frustrated. Now, when I have time to do something I want to do, like writing a blog post, I actually have ideas in my head.
We can all use a reprieve from overwhelm during the holidays. Here are some ways you may be able to find more space:
- Turn off the background noise at home
- Don’t take out your phone while waiting in line
- Put down your book while on the train or metro
- Take a bath instead of a shower
- Let yourself get bored – that’s when ideas come
- Exercise outside without distractions
How do you find more mental space when you’re feeling overwhelmed?
It is hard to know what to do when a tragedy like Orlando happens. Even if you do not know anyone who was affected, we are all touched by it. You may feel a mix of empathy, anger, outrage, and hopelessness. You may wonder where we can be safe, what will be next, what can I do, what will it take before things change?
As we begin the process of mourning as a country, as individuals, I would like to offer a suggestion for a small thing we can each do. I think one of the best ways we can honor those who have died is to contribute to creating peace.
I once heard the Dalai Lama speak about peace on the national mall, in front of the Capitol Building. He said that peace in the world begins with your own peace of mind. When we are at peace with ourselves, we spread that peace to those around us.
When our actions and words are aligned with this place of inner peace, others will respond in kind. And then they spread that peace to others around them. Creating change in the world begins with changing yourself.
How do you find inner peace? It is a continuous process of cultivating mindfulness and self-compassion. Yoga and meditation are tools that can help, especially restorative yoga.
Try this simple meditation:
- Close your eyes and take several deep breaths
- With your eyes still closed, look down and imagine that you can turn your eyes inward
- Turn your internal gaze to your heart. Sense your heartbeat, feel it in your chest
- Then, listen. What does your heart need? Does it have a message for you?
- When you’re ready, return your gaze forward and take several deep breaths.
- Open your eyes.
Whatever approach you take to finding inner peace, the key is really in prioritizing your own mental and spiritual health. It may seem frivolous or unproductive to spend time doing “nothing,” but to put it into perspective – the world depends on it.