Doing & Being, The Third Week of the Second Year in the New Abnormal
I have salt lamps in my home and work offices. They are supposed to have a calming effect with the soft pink glow. I also have a host of self-help books with recommendations on ways to be happier, less stressed, or healthier in every way. There are not enough hours in the day to prepare and slowly enjoy nourishing meals, move our bodies, meditate, document our thoughts, our habits, our gratitude, mindfully practice yoga, recycle, enjoy nature, be nice to everyone, call our friends, practice aroma therapy, see our health professionals, read or listen to the news, laugh, bring some art into our lives, be creative, be informed, be conscious, relax, be generous, and be happy. I am overwhelmed living my best life.
Making a choice to care for myself in one way means I’m making a choice to not do something else. Perhaps it’s another way of caring. Resting means I’m not working out. Working out means I am not relaxing. And so on.
Nonetheless choices have to be made. The best I can do is be present in whatever I’m doing. I see it as checking in with myself and my environment. What is happening? How do I feel? Am I paying attention? If not, can I refocus? If I had to describe this, I would say it’s being in the moment, or “beingness.” It sounds very new age, and perhaps it is in some sense. But I think more in the tradition of artisans who customarily have singularly focused on their craft.
Being a psychotherapist has been helpful in learning to be in the moment. I find it’s essential to listen with intention. Even when a story has been said before, it has never been said in that moment. Can I hear the changes? Can I see what connections are being made? This has been useful. But since not everyone is a psychotherapist, nor do all psychotherapists practice the same way, each of us can find ways to choose what’s appropriate for any given time as we awkwardly make our way to live our best lives.
I, for one, will keep my salt lamps burning. Do they help? Though I don’t know the science, I do like them, and that’s good enough for my best life.
- Do something that brings you joy. Notice if you can be aware of your mood, sensations in your body, what’s going on around you, and anything else associated with the joyful activity.
- Make a conscious choice to not do something. How does that feel? Can you be present even as you are not doing whatever you’ve chosen?
- Hydrate. We tend to forget to drink water or other hydrating liquids in the winter.