The following emerged during a recent writing group session. The prompt was: “What do you do when you feel off-kilter?” Thanks to Jeanette Stokes and Rachael Wooten for the prompt.
Stop. Stop spinning your wheels. Take a few deep breaths. Let go of assumptions about how things are supposed to be, how you are supposed to be. More breaths. Once, recently, it meant lying in bed reading a mystery for a couple of hours instead of starting the morning routine that I had explicitly designed to keep me on kilter. Be ready for surprises. Pay attention. Breathe instead of judge.
Most days that daily routine does a pretty good job. But the minute it becomes rote, watch out.
It helps to have a book or a few to engage the imagination, to spark curiosity. What else? Remember to move, sometimes a challenge, especially when it’s hot. Breathe. You probably could just repeat that word over and over. And then remember to do it. Turns out there is not that much more to say. I could record that routine, the one that serves me well much of the time.
But, first, don’t say yes, when you really mean no. And vice versa. Make sure you have chances to really engage with other humans. Sometimes this is the most important thing, meaning humans with whom you can relax into yourself. And of course there’s beauty, like looking at mountains and sunsets and stars. But really, on a day-to-day basis it’s that morning routine, and then noticing when you have to break it in order to find it again. This happens over and over, and over and over I tend to forget until the kilter is pretty far off.
But when I remember that you don’t have to be good all the time, when I find myself again, the relief is delicious.
Here’s a rough sketch of that morning routine:
1. Meditate for about twenty minutes (sometimes less), mostly focused on the breath. 2. Read a little something that encourages pondering. I like a few pages from several different things. Right now it’s Susan Griffin, Out of Silence, Sound. Out of Nothing, Something; Pádraig Ó Tuama, Poetry Unbound; and Daniel Goleman and Tsoknyi Rinpoche, Why We Meditate. 3. Write a bit in my journal. This works pretty well for me, but I imagine we each need to find our own path.
Editor’s Note: Litle’s essay appeared in the spring issue of RCWMS’ newsletter South of the Garden. Check out the rest of the spring 2023 issue of South of the Garden here.
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