My friend laughed when I said this. It took me a second to realize why it sounded funny, because it was so TRUE. I started something new this week – something that has made a tremendous difference in the way I approach my day and the people around me – and on this particular morning, this FIRST morning, it had gotten off to a rough start.
The “something new” began when I was searching for a journal in my office and came across a book titled, “10 Mindful Minutes: Giving Our Children – and Ourselves – the Social and Emotional Skills to Reduce Stress and Anxiety for Healthier, Happier Lives.” When I realized it had been on my bookshelf for years and I hadn’t read it, I thought about some of the other books scattered around my house.
“The 100 Simple Secrets of Happy Families.” “365 Dalai Lama.” “Cries of the Spirit: More than 300 Poems in Celebration of Women’s Spirituality.”
Then I felt like a poser. Unlike the “10 Mindful Minutes” book, I had actually read these, but in fits and starts, and it suddenly became clear that if I had a practice that made daily use of the things I’ve amassed to make me a better person (my books, my yoga mat, my favorite prayers), I may very well be a better mother, wife and friend. So I created a “Mind-Body-Spirit” file on my computer to keep track of the things I do in each category, each day.
The first day, however, as I said, had gotten off to a rocky start. Because I was up too late the night before to get up at 6 a.m. for yoga (the “body” portion of the practice, obviously), I made myself do it when I was supposed to be starting to edit my manuscript. “It’s non-negotiable,” I repeated to myself as I rolled out my mat.
Fifteen minutes later (I know it’s not a huge amount of time, but it’s better than nothing), I sat down to read an interview with holistic physician Amy Saltzman (hello, “mind” portion!) who integrates mindfulness into her work with children and teens. Her belief that children’s greatest stress comes not from school or peer pressure but from “parental stress” was eye-opening. Her tip for demonstrating to young people the “Still Quiet Place” within is to say, “Honey, I’m really frustrated that you did X again. I’m going to take a few minutes and then we can discuss this.” Not always easy, but brilliant.
Next, for my “spirit” quota, I read a Bible verse I’d come across in an e-mail earlier in the morning: “And I came to you in weakness and fear and much trembling.” (1 Corinthians 2:3) This was helpful as I got down to business and began editing – particularly after a post-conference funk in which, instead of staying pumped from the positive feedback from agents and editors, I stared at the start of every scene and wondered whether it was gripping enough.
I’m only on day four, but what I can report is that making the development of my mind, body and spirit just as important as scheduling an interview or taking my daughter to a playdate has changed the way I view – and react to – the world.
Even if I have to coach myself through it sometimes.