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What are you choosing today?

By Andrea Kartika Deierlein

· Mindfulness

“Life doesn’t get easier or more forgiving, we get stronger and more resilient.”

- Steve Maraboli

We have a choice every day. Every moment even. We can choose to feel angry, worried or anxious. Or we can choose to be present, acknowledge what we feel and then move on, so we don’t get sucked into the downward spiral of energy-sapping emotions. I say this often: energy goes where the attention goes… so it’s time to notice your own personal energy leaks.

It’s very easy to find out. Your body is a wonderful tool for this. Do you feel contracted or expanded in your chest when you experience a certain emotion, think of someone or something? Explore… and find out. Awareness is the first step. Then you can shift. Redirect your attention to something positive. Start moving. Put on a dance tune and shake it all up. Call a friend. Cuddle with your pet. Do whatever you need to do to shift. In mindfulness terms, this exercise is called Notice – Shift – Rewire.

Here’s how you can Notice – Shift – Rewire:

  1. Notice. Become aware what you are feeling, where your attention is directed.
  2. Shift. Bring your attention to the present moment. Move your body. Shake things off. For 90 seconds.
  3. Smile for 20 seconds, so you can rewire. Enjoy this positive emotion of joy, gratefulness, love for 15-30 seconds.

[If you want to find out more, I also talked about this in a Dharma & Espresso podcast, when we discussed calm, acceptance and surrender during this time of Covid-19].

This morning after I finished the Mindful Monday program for the Yonkers Public Library, where I teach just what I described to about 30 people every week, I got a call from my brother in Germany. He told me that Papa was brought to the hospital with a high fever. When I received the information, I was calm. After a few minutes, my mind wanted to hijack me into the what-if’s… I even felt tears dwelling in my eyes. I caught myself, took a deep breath, focused on what was in front of me (which was cleaning the cat litter, if you want to know), brought my attention back to the scooping and then refilling the box.

Being in the moment and turning to my mindfulness practice, I remembered this teaching from the Dalai Lama: “If it can be solved, there’s no need to worry, and if it can’t be solved, worry is of no use.”

I realized right now, there is no point in worrying. It would only sap my energy, make me feel terrible and make me a nervous wreck for the rest of the day. Do I want to feel this way? Hell, no!

This also made me think of what one of my mentors has been lovingly pounding into my head for one year now: “If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.” In her teachings, she also likes to remind me that pain is inevitable, yet suffering is optional. Right now, I choose not to suffer. Right now, I choose to change what I can. Right now, I choose to change my thoughts, my focus, and attention to be in the present moment. And if my mind wants to hijack me again, I will simply bring it back. As often as I need to.

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