Saturday, February 21, 2009

Count to 10...and don't forget to breathe...

When I was a child I can remember very vividly moments where my mother's face would become redder than a tomato, and she would stop herself from speaking, only to either count to ten out loud, or do so in her mind before speaking in a very low, very calm voice. This got her point across much more than yelling ever could have as that deep, motherly, bordering-on-sensuality-and-explosion tone captured my attention and made me listen right quick to what she had to say. It was when she reached that level of calm, and her voice was steady that she had become empowered in a way I can only begin to understand now as I walk this path.

I now realize how I apply it to every day situations like something stressful happening at work, or a car cutting in front of me on the highway just so they could get off the exit ramp two seconds before I could. Before stepping on the accelerator and screaming obscenities which would only make things worse, particularly if it was an unmarked police car chasing another person... counting to ten helps a great deal. I could also use this method when my daughter decides that the dog's water is fun to splash in, and/or drink, and subsequently soaks herself and everything within a ten foot radius.

It's not just a way of preventing yourself from saying or doing things you don't mean, it's a method of relaxation that you can practice to bring that blood pressure down, and reduce your stress level. A form of quick meditation without the dim lights, candles or soft music to bring yourself to a happy enough place to realize that messes can be cleaned up, people can be misunderstood, and it's not the end of the world if the toilet overflows from an action figure being flushed down it.

I was reading about how spirituality has a deep-rooted connection to mental and physical health, and it is beautiful how this count-to-ten method ties into that. Spirituality concerns itself with matters of the spirit which can be tied to religious belief or faith, in many senses of the word. It doesn't matter what you believe in, just that you believe in something. And by putting your faith and beliefs in something, it becomes part of your spirit, part of your soul and your every day way of life. This includes not only your mind and body, but also the development of your inner life through specific practices. Spirituality relates to matters of sanity, psychological health, personal, subjective dimension of religion, matters of the heart and my goodness, the health of those around you :)

I have now taken it as my mantra to practice my mother's tried and true count to ten method when life throws a particularly hard day or series of days my way. I try to remain as calm as possible so the young people around me who absorb everything like a sponge, do not take anything with them into the world I will regret. So that my friends know me as a level-headed person who gives a lot of thought to everything they do or say. So people know that I can listen to those who have opinions that differ than mine, and can calmly tell me they disagree with me on something knowing I will take that to heart and not get instantly defensive or upset with them.

Each day is a new lesson, filled with different challenges. It is how we deal with these challenges that allows us to adapt and move on... keeping the dog water dish at a higher level to prevent a repeat of drenched everything that made me so unhappy the last time for example. Try to allow more time when I need to travel somewhere so if someone does cut me off, I'm not stressed about it. To try to remember that my loved ones don't mean to get on those last tiny frayed ends of sanity, and that I do love them. I think if everyone in the world practiced a little more thinking about what they say or do when something upsetting happened, and takes those long deep breaths and just count, we'd have a lot less violence, a lot less stress, and a lot more blissful of a place to live in with their fellow spiritualists, artist, idealists and dreamers of dreams.


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