It’s been a little while since I posted something new here. The past couple weeks have been full and fun. Sienna’s school year ended and then Gaga came to visit. We got to hear all about Gaga’s amazing European adventure, Dennis and I had a wonderful date night, and we took the kids to the pool a couple times. We had a laidback, relaxing transition into summer.
During this time, I have embraced being present and as a result, I learned something new along my journey of awakening…
When I first realized that I had an issue with needing to control my feelings through planning and spending an excessive amount of time thinking, analyzing, (i.e. “in my head”), I had to learn to be comfortable in the moment. As I practiced defusion, expansion, and connection – I still had a tendency to hold on to specific thoughts that made me feel better. The thoughts were perhaps healthier and more helpful, but still it was an intellectual or mental exercise.
However, I did have times where I embraced the moment and felt surprising feelings that were genuine, inspiring, and poignant. I liked feeling things deeply again. I felt more alive. True, I’d also sometimes feel down, but then the joyful moments felt more special and real.
I realize now that when I said I was “happy all the time” what I actually felt was a sense of control over my thoughts and feelings. Control made me feel okay. But, it didn’t truly make me feel happy.
Thoughts and feelings are not the same thing. In order to feel, you actually have to stop thinking. Contemplating something means you’ve retreated into your mind; you can’t pay attention to both your thoughts and the sensations in your body, at the same time.
I’ve noticed this with sunsets. We have a great view of the sunset from our backyard, so I’ve had many different experiences with them. Sometimes my mind is constantly going, telling my how beautiful it is, how peaceful this ought to make me feel, how lucky we are to have this view, etc. Other times, I just look. I breathe. I notice the palm trees in the distance, the different layers of colors, the fog rolling in from the coast, the sound of the birds in the trees. I experience the sunset and do not have any preconceived ideas on how it should make me feel.
So, that’s the next revelation for me. In order to be in touch with my feelings, I have to be present and connected to the moment. Thoughts come and go all the time, of course. It’s not about controlling my thoughts, it’s about not giving my thoughts so much attention.
Life is to be experienced; to be felt. My loved ones are to be seen, heard, and held. Listening to Sienna’s stories or entering Teo’s game is how I can really be their mom and show I care, rather than simply thinking about how much I love my children. Taking Holy Communion and participating in the divine liturgy are how I connect with Christ, much more than in my moments of contemplation about God. Going to the funeral of someone we never met in support of our church family is deeply fulfilling and allowed us to teach Sienna about death in a way that no intellectual conversation ever could.
A line from The Happiness Trap says: “Get out of your head and into your life!” I’ve had that line pop into my mind like a little mantra lately. When I’m distracted by my thoughts and pulled out of the moment, sometimes reciting that is all it takes for me to let go and reconnect.