Enemies, all around…

Tiredness and working, working, working. Scanty, bad quality sleep. Revolving housework. The relentless corporate world. NEVER HAVING ENOUGH TIME. Time to talk to my partner, time to play with my kids, hang out with friends, time to do my hair or pluck my eyebrows, time to rest. It’s worn me down over the last 6 months.

And I have neglected my spiritual practices, basic as they are. Neglected to live in the moment and look up at the sky. Neglected to bring myself back to the now when things feel like they are spiralling out of control. When the to-do list feels neverending and yesterday feels like one long “why did I/didn’t I say/do that?”. When each moment is just another moment to get things done…or not manage to get things done.

Even supposedly enjoyable events have felt like something to “do” and then “tick off” when they are done. What’s the point?

I talk the talk. I have read the books and I have seen them work miracles in my life. But it’s called spiritual practice for a reason…you need to practice! Every day, every moment, because the mind/ego is strong and will just creep on in there if you don’t.

Lately, feeling down, I have felt like everyone is against me, that no one understands me or cares about my needs. That I am alone, isolated, overworked, underappreciated. That other people just don’t care, don’t love me. I’ve seen enemies in everyone from my kids to my colleagues.

Yesterday I found an alone moment and listened to a brilliant metta meditation (loving kindness) by Tara Brach. It was so reassuring and beautiful to re-connect with the idea that there is no separateness between us, that separateness in itself is a concept created by fear, stress, anger. An illusion.

I reflected in loving kindness on various people, including myself, and brought myself back to the middle again, and to the realisation that there is no enemy except that of our own making.



Enemies, all around…

The oxygen mask philosophy

Within my group of mama friends, this term has become so common that as soon as any one of us starts to email things like “overwhelmed, tired, moody”…we all reply “oxygen mask!”

We all get burned out from time to time: periods of illness, or work/money stress, or just those busy periods where you are out all day and things seem to be going at wharp speed and you wish the day had more hours or you had a third arm (I’ve wished for the third arm many-a-time!).

Have you ever noticed that the kids start to get all weird? And your relationship starts to get all weird? It’s time to sort it out. Time to put on your oxygen mask, just like on a  plane where they ask you to help yourself first so you can help your family.

‘Cos when we are rested, happy and energetic, we can deal with anything. And usually just the fact of being well radiates out to the other members of the clan, and things seem to adjust and get better by osmosis.

When you know it’s time to put the oxygen mask on, you might need to do some or all of the following:

Get to bed EARLY. I mean with the kids if possible. At least twice. (BTW I find this one really hard because I feel I don’t get any down time, but actually it’s THE most important one…just be strict, it’s only a couple of days: emails, books and even blogs can wait)

Eat well, no skipping meals. BUT, in oxygen zone you need to keep it simple, it’s not the time to be trying out those new recipes. Prepared food is fine in oxygen zone, order pizza, just eat some fruit after for vitamins. Or take a vitamin pill.

FORGET all non-essential duties for a day or a few days until you feel recuperated. When you are in dire need, really all that is important is feeling well again. FULL STOP.

So, let the kids watch TV, play video games, whatever it takes to get that space. Pick battles. Just take a few days out from the norm to use minimum energy. Call in favours: family and friends are happy to help. Pay anyone you can afford: cleaners, babysitters.

Let the house get feral. When you have energy again, you will clean it up. Unless you can afford a cleaner, in which case go for that!

So there you have it, the OMP in a nutshell.

When’s the last time you needed it?

(oops, forgot to say thanks to ANJA who first suggested this technique to me, and shout out to How to ruin a toddlers day: here’s the full explanation!)

The oxygen mask philosophy