I'm not asking for much. I want to feel "right." I want to be okay. Not the usual crazy, overwhelmed feeling. Don't we want to feel "right" within ourselves? When was the last time you felt like you were operating on all cylinders - like everything was clicking?
I heard a podcast with Michael Singer today, and it hit just the right nerve. He spoke about the cause behind the stress that many of us feel. It is not due to living in a technologically-based society nor our polarizing politics. Instead, it all has to do with our expectations - what we want and what we don't want. Instead of seeing the reality in front of us, we constantly dream up what we want for ourselves (or don't want) and try to manipulate the world to make that happen. As a result, we spend most of our energy fighting for what we think is "right for us" instead of living the reality of "what is."
I took a class earlier this spring that also emphasized this point of not having an opinion. The class leader kept saying that what others do/say/don't do is none of our business. We get ourselves into emotional, spiritual, and physical trouble when we spend our energy on things out of our control. By judging others or forming and expressing opinions, we are not accepting life as it is and live instead in discontent. We are left feeling slighted because things aren't going the way we want them to go. If we choose not to engage our minds in the practice of creating all of our wants and not-wants, we might enjoy life a whole lot more because it won't be disappointing.
Shutting off our desires in life feels rather tricky, but I realize the trade-off is gratitude and a feeling of wholeness. We are complete just as we are. We don't need anything more or less than what we have. Michael Singer encouraged listeners to recognize our mind at work and relax the body when we start conjuring up our wants. By just making this first shift, we can see how much our mind wants to control life. I have a feeling I will be in this stage of discovery for a while, but I'm willing to work at it. Peace of mind and heart are at stake.
What do you think about living your life without wants or not-wants? Would that bring more contentment to your life?
My husband and I have been taking a wealth management class through our church, and one of the expectations is that you pay with cash to feel your money leaving your hands. Unfortunately, it's too easy to swipe a card and move on with your day. So we are trading the convenience of a credit or debit card for the more tactical experience of counting and handing over bills.
This change in our money habits has forced us to look at our spending patterns. Why do we feel the pull to spend? What triggers us? Is it hunger? Boredom? Jealousy? Behind our habits lie our emotions. And how are we coping these days? It's worthy of an investigation.
I encourage you to take any area of your life that you feel may need improvement. What might be the trigger for the behavior you want to change? How might you support that need inside you in a more healthy way?
I know many of my teacher friends lie awake at night with ruminating thoughts. It's easy to do because it is often the first time we are still. I used to be that way too, but luckily, I have found a way to calm my mind and fall asleep more quickly. So, if you are tired of staying up late overthinking everything, here are a couple of things to try that have worked for me.
Losing sleep because you are stressing about school is never fun. I've been there. By trying out these tips, I hope you can find an easier downshift at the end of the day.
As someone in the education world, I have experienced first-hand the long hours, juggling of home and school responsibilities, and failed attempts at self-care. As a result, work can easily take priority even when it shouldn't. And our family members and especially partners can become like strangers to us.
One way to support our well-being is to focus on feeding our relationships. Instead of assuming that our partner understands that we are stressed and too busy to spend time with them, it is vital to make an effort in even small ways to stay connected. By nurturing our most precious relationships, we not only help to meet our own emotional needs, but we support the "we-ness" of the relationship that we hold most dear.
Here are 4 ways to reconnect with that most special person in your life:
2. Go Back to the Beginning
Think back to when you first started spending time together. What were some of your shared activities? Did you have a favorite show that you binge-watched? Did you go hiking at a nearby park? How might you re-introduce some of those activities that you used to do? That rekindling of "us" as an entity can help to bring you both back to the foundation of your relationship. What makes your relationship unique, and how do you live that out together?
3. Slow Down
It is easy to get caught up in our rat race to the point that we are running through our day in a blur. By slowing down our movements and words, we can be more intentional about connecting with our loved ones. We need to set our egos aside and recognize that these people deserve our attention. Intentionally locking eyes with your partner shows them you are present and that you SEE them. Isn't that what we all want? To be seen? Show them they are worthy of your attention by slowing your body down.
As humans, we require touch. Start with small gestures - a hand on an arm or leg, wiping a crumb off their chin. These movements say, "I care about you." Of course, hugs and kisses are lovely as well, but if you have had a "dry spell" lately, permit yourself to start small. As you reconnect with your partner, intimacy will become easier.
What will you do today to shift your relationship?
Nature is a healer - we know that. But did you know that our bodies respond positively to even a short time outdoors? Just FIVE minutes in a natural setting can reap benefits! Here are some ideas on how to make this happen in your world:
As we return back to school, we find ourselves battling various crises - of health, weather, financial, personal, etc. But in the midst of crises, we have the opportunity to stop the swirl and ask ourselves "what is most important to me?" A crisis forces us to decide which way we will go, how we will grow, and who we will become. What is most important to you these days?
When the going gets rough, I sometimes fall silent. After a barrage of disappointing news, I can shut myself down with the belief that my thoughts or ideas won't make a difference. Take the pandemic. It feels huge and out of control. What impact can little ol' me make? I might as well curl up into a ball until it is all over.
This thought pattern is one that I often see among my teaching colleagues - not that they don't believe they can make a difference with students. They are all about that! But when it comes to school systems and processes, they make themselves small. But the fact is that they have a unique perspective on how these systems play out in the classroom. They can articulate the consequences of decisions made by the higher-ups because they are living it.
This is no time to make ourselves small. We can't just "go along for the ride" because our voices and perspectives matter. As we move into 2021, I encourage all of us to speak up and share how building and district decisions impact our students and us.
How will you honor your needs and be heard in 2021?
"To touch can be to give life." Michelangelo
Our pandemic lives are exacerbating the touch-deficit that exists in our Western culture. For safety, we have to give each other space, cover up, and avoid physical touch. But this touch is critical for our emotional and physical health. Touch communicates love, trust, and compassion. It calms us by releasing oxytocin (otherwise known as the "love hormone.") We need each other and need each other's touch more than ever.
Do you need more touch in your life? While there are no definitive ways to know for sure, here are some symptoms to look for:
During the month of October, we will be doing a deep dive with all things related to touch in the Tuned In Teachers community. Join us to explore the science of touch and tips on ways you can give and receive more of this form of connection. Go to community.tunedinteachers.com.
Schools are releasing their "Return to Learn" plans across the country, but let me give you a "heads up" - these plans will most likely change. They may change multiple times before the first official day of school due to spikes in cases, falling or increasing student enrollment, or other factors. This is unsettling for parents, students, and teachers. So, what do we do? How do we cope when we don't know what the school year will look like?
How else do you deal with the unknown?