Written by Jan Cloninger
How many times do you tell your kids to stop doing whatever it is that they're doing that they shouldn't be doing? Stopping activities that can be unproductive or harmful can be a good thing. Yet how often do we personally take the time to stop to fully reflect on, evaluate, and experience what's going on in our own lives?
My father (who was almost 87) passed away last week after nearly a two week stay in the hospital. My days have been filled with doctors, tests, test results, visits, chauffeuring my mom, planning a funeral, and getting his affairs in order -- on top of trying to manage the day-to-day activities my life calls me to attend to. It's been a busy and emotionally charged time.
For years I have used meditation as a means to deal with stress and quiet the worries/anxieties/fears in my head. During the past few weeks, I have been so thankful for the ways that tool has enhanced my life. Yet I found myself not wanting to take the time to stop and still myself because I instinctively knew how overwhelming the emotions that were just beneath the surface of my busyness would be.
After a few very difficult days, I finally forced myself to do a guided meditation. As I listened to the soothing voice reminding me to let go and go deeper, the feelings around the potential loss of my dad began to bubble up. Tears started to flow down my cheeks. In a matter of seconds there were great sobs originating from a place inside that I had never accessed before.
In the midst of experiencing the sorrow and pain, I was also consciously reminded that one of the reasons most of us don't want to stop is because we're often unconsciously afraid of being overwhelmed by our feelings. We convince ourselves to stay busy, distracted, and disconnected in order to avoid any discomfort.
However, when we set up those patterns, we also rob ourselves of the opportunities to fully experience all the positive feelings that life has to offer us also. Unfortunately, we can't just pick and choose which experiences we'll be fully present for. In avoiding the difficult, we also miss out on the wonderful ones, too.
On the other side of my intense feelings of grief, loss, and knowing how fleeting life really is, came a greater sense of peace, sensitivity, compassion, and connection to those around me. Taking the time to stop got me out of my head and reconnected to the intangibles that really are the most important part of life: relationships, love, and appreciation for all the gifts in my life.
For many of us, being able to stop and be fully present to whatever is at hand is a skill that has to be developed and practiced. For many of our children, it is a skill that has to be taught. Mastering the techniques that get you there can greatly enrich your life as well as your children's.
When was the last time you stopped -- for a day, an hour, or even a few minutes to fully experience whatever is happening in your life? You may be avoiding some uncomfortable feelings, but what incredible moments are you missing out on also?
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