It may be that many of you manage your lives perfectly well already. I was not one of those people. I was a person with a lot of anxiety, and most of my days were spent managing the distress in my life. When fear wasn’t imminent, I was in anticipation of the next dreaded ball dropping.
Yoga and meditation brought awareness of the present moment into my life. That perspective illuminated a new sense of safety for me. I focused on what was before me now, and that was all. When my untrained mind would do its best to drag me into regrets of the past or worries for the future, my focus would insist on snapping me back to the safe present. The more I practiced present moment focus, the easier it became. Before long, my default mindset in stressful times was no longer a frightening reality but a faith-filled exercise.
This is all good in theory, but until we have the chance to apply it to real life, it’s hard to grasp the amazing benefits of focus.
Ten years ago, in the middle of the night, my husband, David, woke up with chest pains. Seeing David in pain and not knowing what was going to happen was my worst nightmare. It was clear that it was serious, so I called 911. They instructed me to open the front door, put the dogs away, and keep David calm. I helped him get into some sweatpants and sweatshirt, and I did the same. We waited for the paramedics to arrive. It was in that time of waiting that I noticed that I had kicked into a calm place of peace. Even though the thought of what might be going on was frightening, in that moment we were safe and alright. I was not scared. I could help him stay calm, too. I had made myself strong, and could use that strength to protect the person I loved. It felt like the greatest service of all. The ending is a good one: he was fine, with no heart incident at all. It is now a dear memory, rather than a nervous, fearful moment.
This was my first experience with my new-found, faith-filled default mindset. If I had not worked so hard on my own self care, that night would have gone very differently. I would have been so stricken with panic that I would have been frantic in the moment and upset for days afterwards, too, even with David’s clean bill of health. Instead, I was in awe of how calm I had been able to be when everything around me felt so frightening. These are the moments that make the hard work of self care worth it: I was able to rise to the occasion and be the best wife I could be, all because I had invested so much love and gentle nurturing in myself.