ONGOING GAME OF PING PONG

Inner Dialogue

The only difference between me and the woman wandering the streets mumbling to herself is that I’m not talking out loud.

The conversations in my head are an ongoing game of ping pong:

What should I do with my life?

I don’t know, but what I do know is that you should have it figured out by now.

You’re right… I’m so behind! Why can’t I get my shit together?

You aren’t good enough.

I’m not enough. I’ll never be enough.

I become so absorbed in the dialogue that I lose awareness of what’s real and what’s not real.

Labeling Your Thoughts

In her book Living Beautifully with Uncertainty and Change, Pema Chödrön suggests labeling your thoughts as “thinking.” For example, as I sit here writing this, my mind is running off in several directions, like I can’t wait to eat dinner (when don’t I think about food?) and Will I be called in for an interview? Instead of getting caught up in these conversations, I gently tell myself “thinking,” and continue writing.

Unlike my usual responses–Why can’t I ever stay focused?! I shouldn’t be feeling or thinking this!–simply labeling the thoughts as “thinking” is a compassionate and nonjudgmental way of awakening to reality, to this moment.

Impermanence

What’s reality, anyway? All I know for sure is that life is unpredictable and uncertain. In this way, meditation mimics the reality of life. During meditation, both formal and informal (think mindfulness), we focus on our breath. The in-breath and out-breath that you just took have come and gone. You can’t get them back. Anger, heartache, joy, confidence, security, jealousy, sadness–they’re all impermanent.

If you’re also battling it out in a game of ping pong, try labeling your thoughts as “thinking” and bring your awareness back to life… real life.

TAKE LEAP AFTER LEAP

My nomadic heart led me to Colorado, the Czech Republic, and Germany, as well as several destinations in between.

Recently, however, I’ve been grasping for groundedness. But here’s the thing: the more I search for stability–a full-time “traditional” job, committed relationship, or my own space–the more unstable I feel.

So why is that? Because life is unpredictable and uncertain. Trying to control the uncontrollable is, well, nuts!

Nutty behavior

Nutty behavior

In the words of Agnes de Mille,

Living is a form of not being sure, not knowing what next or how. The moment you know how, you begin to die a little. The artist never entirely knows. We guess. We may be wrong, but we take leap after leap in the dark.

I don’t have to move to another state or country to practice being comfortable with uncertainty. I can practice right now with each nagging question: How many books have I sold? Is it going to be humid all week? When will I talk to him?

If I can break my habit of reacting to the daily uncertainties, then I’ll be that much more mindful and less reactive to the “bigger” uncertainties in my life.

How do you take leap after leap?

THIS WEEK I’M GRATEFUL FOR:

♥ A butterfly landed on me… five times. (This must mean something, right?)

♥ Memories.

This song, which I have on repeat. Take a listen.

♥ My health.

♥ Eating at my second favorite restaurant, Seva.

♥ Laughter:

Me and my friend Mark

Me and my friend Mark

♥ The book Living Beautifully with Uncertainty and Change. It was exactly what I needed to read.

♥ Running 8 miles, even when I wanted to give up and thought of a dozen other things that I’d rather do (like eat lunch).

♥ Playing Scrabble.

♥ Buying new journals and pens. (I know, I’m super nerdy.)

A FLOOD GATE WAS OPENED

As soon as I tucked myself into bed, tears rushed out of me like water from a flood gate.

River in Colorado

River in Colorado

My heart was racing, I desperately gasped for air, my body shook, and a tingling sensation tickled the back of my head. Hello, Anxiety.

Hopeless. Scared. Broken.

Then, I slowly started to put myself back together–breath by breath, piece by piece.

Sometimes we need to break apart so that we can build ourselves back up again.

CastleRuinsHope

View from the castle ruins (Czech Republic)