Without giving too much information, I will confess that the word "calm" is in a lot of my passwords, as a reminder for the most part. While sitting watching one of my kids play volleyball, I have been called the "zen mom" more than once, a compliment that I am proud of but don't always feel like I deserve. Knowing my beginnings and tendencies in life, I have to say I have always felt a disconnect by what people observe about me and how I observe and feel about myself...I don't always feel so zen. Trying to bridge the gap between my insides and my outsides has led me to appreciate the concept of mindfulness, solitude and meditation. I have embraced these things through a yoga practice that helped me to come through the hardest 2 years of my life. I have learned a lot about how these same concepts can calm a heightened nervous system like the one I had as a kid and like the one my youngest is trying to tame today. I am grateful for life's circumstances that have brought me to a place where I can contemplate these sensations in everyday life. I breathe deeply, I am aware of my heartbeat and my senses, and I like that I can feel my emotions and state of mind in such a real way these days. Learning to stay present has been the biggest gift received through hardship because in each moment I have learned to feel that I am fine.
Today, my exploration of meditation lead me to Float Clinic, where I submersed myself in a 5Wx8LX7H pool of water that held 1200lbs of epsom salts. As a water baby, the idea of floating was intriguing to me from the start. Personally, I learned the value of Epsom Salt baths years earlier when Matthew's doctor prescribed them to calm him before bed. Not long after I saw the effect they had on him, I began taking salt baths myself and really became a believer. The home version consists of 2 cups of Epsom Salts in a bathtub full of water...just think of what 1200lbs could do!
So today, I played 6 beach volleyball games and made my way over to Float Clinic in Torrance. After showering to make sure there was no sweat or skin oil to contaminate the water and putting in ear plugs to keep water out of my ears, I immersed myself in the float pool in complete silence and darkness, floating on my back. There was a small part of me that was nervous but I've always been so comfortable in the water, I pushed through. The water is not hot and not cold, it's perfectly comfortable on your skin. The salt makes the water so dense, it's like floating in the Dead Sea, there is no way you can sink or even turn over, no matter how much your body relaxes. Easily, within the first five minutes, the world seemed to slip away and wherever my brain went, it was blissful. Time passed unnoticed and I can't tell you one thought that I had for the almost 90 minutes I was floating. My brain was truly at rest. AMAZING! The guy who gave me the tour and instructions told me that at the end of my 90 minutes, soft music would begin to play, indicating that my float was over. At some point as I floated, unaware of time and completely at ease, a tense slightly anxiety ridden state came over me. I tried to figure out where that was coming from all of a sudden and how I was going to use my brain to overcome the slightly panicky feeling that I had. I started to worry that I had been so relaxed and had been floating too long, what if I slept through the music, or I couldn't hear it. I pulled out my earplugs and low and behold, there was music playing! It had disrupted my completely relaxed brain! For the record, in total, that low level anxiety feeling lasted about 30 seconds...no big deal.
Tonight, my skin and my hair feel so soft, my muscle fatigue is nearly all gone and the aches in my neck and traps that are almost always there are nonexistent for now. I will say, as I walked to my car, I noticed how dry my mouth was, and knowing the power of Epsom Salts, figured I needed to get a hold of some water really quick. Within an hour of exiting the pool, I drank 2 liters of water and have continued to drink several glasses the rest of the afternoon...pretty sure this is key for the process to continue to benefit the body. Hydration is huge! I'm excited to see how I will sleep tonight and how my body feels in the morning...but i have already booked again for next Friday. According to the sources, they say the experience only gets better!
Today I opened up a fortune cookie and it read, " Don't pursue happiness - create it.”. Seeing it spelled out so simply made me realize that although I have entered into a contract with myself mentally, it is time to get it down in writing. It seems in general, the older we get, the more sidetracked we become about what leads to true happiness. Watching my niece and nephews over Easter, I found myself concentrating on what made them happy, especially the 4 year old. When he was rested, a scoop of ice cream or a dinosaur easter egg were reasons for laugh out loud, jump up and down celebration...simple pleasures. Fast forward a few years, and the modern day perspective, so many times, creates a slip…happiness seems to be more expensive and more elusive, when the reality of what brings happiness hasn’t changed, we have.
There are a few things about my personality that I am thankful for that seem to make it easier for me to be happy than the average 43 year old. I have been tested by real trials, among them having my life drastically upended with the end of my 20 year marriage, and coming through the other side of that incredibly sad experience confident in my ability to grow through struggle and always find reasons to be grateful. Another trait I am grateful I possess is that I enjoy (even crave) the mundane and find pleasure in the simple things. Choosing my coffee cup in the morning makes me happy, watching planes take off makes me happy, real connections with everyday people make me happy. So today, here is my contract with myself, spelled out, so when I need a reminder, I have something to come back to.
1. I will slow down and be grateful. I have learned through hard times that I can always find something to be grateful for. When I count up and concentrate on these things, I can’t help but smile. Being grateful stops the question “why me?” in its tracks. If I move too quickly, it’s easy to lose track of the small things that deserve big gratitude.
2. I will never compromise my position as the leader of my own life. I will make choices and put in the work that lead to my happiness. My happiness will enhance the lives of people around me. Other people matter, but if I put them first, I get lost.
3. My actions will speak louder than my words. If I am speaking the words but not following them with actions to reinforce or achieve my goals, the void that is left between the two creates a desperate battle with my ego where happiness cannot exist. My ego stays healthy when it is humbled by the work that needs to be done to create lasting happiness.
4. I will handle conflict with honesty, respect and understanding, but will not compromise for the sake of agreement. Happiness comes with the confidence of knowing and trusting myself. Escaping the need to have people come alongside and agree with me allows me to live freely. My freedom and happiness are inextricably linked.
5. I will seek the place where my mind, body and spirit connect. I will critically select content that has the power to expand my mind. Podcasts, books, articles and even movies can elevate our thoughts and develop our minds. Selection is key, so don’t cram, and by all means, choose things that won’t set you back. Adequate sleep, healthy food and exercise set my body on track for maximized happiness. Without these I am foggy and unable to manage complicated situations and emotions. My faith and freedom allow me to be myself which feeds my spirit and guides my intuition. My biggest steps away from lasting happiness have happened when I silenced my intuition and didn’t listen to my own gut.
5. Most importantly, it is no one else's job to create happiness for me. No friend, partner or child in my life is responsible for helping me find or sustain my happiness. Creating lasting happiness is not about keeping my ego fed with compliments or pats on the back reinforcing that I am doing the right thing. True happiness comes when my insides and my outsides are a genuine reflection of each other. It takes courage to find that place…and I will seek it every day.
Signed with intention,