Paying Attention

February 18, 2010 at 4:08 pm Leave a comment

I’ve heard the Universe gives you lots of chances to practice what you’ve learned, or at least could have learned if you were paying attention. That’s the unstated test – were you paying attention?  Happily I was, because I got my test just 3 hours later.  I give myself an A for noticing, but execution was a B- at best. 

I had attended a coaching session earlier in the afternoon and an issue the presenter focussed on was getting through a tough situation.   A quick 4-parter, even I could remember it.  Mostly. 

1. Breathe

2 Acknowledge your feelings

3 Ground yourself in the present moment

4 Make peace with the situation or accept to do something about it another time

All good and I bet it even works better when I get all the steps in, but for now, I am happy to recognize that I am stressed and that I can do something about it. 

It’s winter in Upstate NY, so of course it’s  snowing  just as everyone is trying to get home, roads are untreated and slick and traffic lined up like a parade.  I skid past my turn, turn around for a second go and slide again.  I am not a happy winter driver, except during Camelot winter, when the ground is sparkling white with snow and the roads are dry.   As I am creeping along to errands I don’t want to go on, my mind is racing towards my daughter commuting over the poor roads, the company that may beat me to my house, the bed to be remade, the cat hair clinging to the sofa, and yes, that I am stressed, angry, afraid, and that I just learned what to do about it. 

I would like to add Recognition to that previous list, because I know it would be a relief  just to scream at someone, go home, and be mad about the weather.  Trouble is, I would not like myself.  So let’s hear it for Recognition, knowing – paying attention – that emotions are high and that there is a better choice than just reacting in a pre-programmed way.

So, I started Breathing.  Simple, you say?  No.  Unconscious?  Yes.  My shoulders are hunched, my body is tight, and I’m not processing what’s going on right now, only a multitude of possibilities that probably won’t happen.  Just taking a breath and loosening up created space for productive thinking to enter my brain. It worked so well I tried it again.  Feeling better, I tried another step, Be Present, focus on what’s in front of you.  I’m in my car, it’s snowing, there are lots of other cars, check my speed, my brakes…okay…I’m feeling in control, the screaming urges are leaving and I know what I’ll need to do should an emergency arise.  I am all of a sudden a competent driver and I only did two out of four tasks!

Sitting in my warm office now, I can now accept the situation and check off #4, and I might even remember to do this whole exercise before I start driving in ugly weather again.  I look forward to the time when this whole process is automatic and that practice sessions come farther and farther apart.  I may still mix up the order or skip a step, but it will still work and I will be proud of myself.  I think I’ll put that as #5.  Give credit when it’s due, especially to yourself.

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