by Golda Poretsky, HHC
Wow, what a week. Between responding to all of the new clients coming my way because of this Time Out listing, emailing PETA about their latest hateful campaign, and mentally high-fiving Congressman Barney Frank for saying what so many of us want to say to the astroturf protesters, my head has just been spinning.
It was sometime last week when I realized I had gone from, “Wow! I got written up in Time Out and I’m getting lots of new clients!” to “Holy crap! I got written up in Time Out and I’m getting a gazillion calls and a gazillion things are freaking me out and I’m feeling totally overwhelmed!” Luckily, after a day or two in the overwhelmed mode, I started to come to my senses and realize that feeling overwhelmed and stressed out was really unnecessary.
For much of my life until the last few years, I functioned well under high-stress and high-anxiety situations. I had learned to rely on my adrenaline to push me through almost anything, whether it was exams or term papers or all-nighters as a junior associate at a law firm. Pushing my mind and body to the extreme felt both natural and sort of comforting.
That reliance on stress and pressure to get things done also came from a place of feeling like there was never enough time. Way back in junior high, I remember being introduced to the poem, “To His Coy Mistress” by Andrew Marvell. Maybe it was the naughty subject matter or bawdy good humor that made the poem stay with me all of these years, but the concept that struck me most was that of “world enough and time.” I had never felt like there was world enough and time for much of what I wanted to do.
And yet, every once in a while, I would make my own world enough and time. I remember thinking in high school that my favorite thing to do, aside from drinking coffee and chattering with friends, was lying quietly on my bed, looking at the ceiling, and listening to music. As I got older, there seemed to be less and less time to do something as seemingly frivolous as lying in bed and thinking about nothing. The pressures of life always seemed to be more important than the quiet simplicity of doing almost nothing.
But little did I know that my “lying in bed and listening to music” ritual was really a form of meditation. It was my time to float, to let my mind wander, to feel what I needed to feel, to connect with who I was outside of the every day grind of my life, which is to say, who I was inside. As I got older, I discovered different ways of meditating, from yogic practices, to different forms of chanting, to visualization, to affirmations. I’ve tried lots of forms of meditation and love to learn about more.
So, last week, when I found myself slipping in to overwhelm mode, I knew I needed something different. I shut off my phone and my computer. I lay down and started to become aware of my breathing. I let my mind relax. After 20 minutes or so, I felt compelled to do some “free writing” by just putting pen to paper and allowing myself to let it all out. In that free writing session, I not only let go of so much that had been sitting on my shoulders, but I realized some of the things that were making me feel overwhelmed and what I could do to make things easier for myself.
When I got back to my phone and my computer, I felt like myself again. I felt like I could handle whatever was coming to me, and that there was world enough and time to do so.
This week, I encourage you to try some form of meditation. Whether it’s 5 minutes of deep breathing, free writing, or lying on your bed and listening to music, let your body relax and let your thoughts drift and flow. Don’t worry about what comes and goes from your mind. Just let it happen. Please share what you did to get some quiet time and how it made you feel.
And check out the other experts great tips this week.