What does it mean to show up to your life? For me, it means being present, being here. Aren’t we always here? Well, yes, but sometimes we don’t know we’re here. We’re halfway here, lost in our thoughts, five steps ahead of NOW in worry or preparation. So showing up means that we’re fully here in this moment, paying attention. If you’re like me, you may have learned over time that it isn’t always easy to show up AS YOURSELF. Perhaps it doesn’t always feel safe. Am I enough? Will people approve of me?
I am drawn to (driven to?) productivity, as many of us are. It comes through our culture, this emphasis on doing, doing, doing. It feels good then, to be productive and to accomplish a lot in a day. It feels gratifying, as if all of this doing means something. If I dig way down deep, achieving seems to mean that I am enough-- good enough, hardworking enough. At the same time, this can feel like a kind of tyranny-- that I MUST accomplish a lot, and if not, it could mean that I failed in some way. But what if I’m tired? What if I’m not feeling well?
I feel sometimes like I have been given a ten-speed again. Opportunities come my way that are justout my my comfort zone, that I need to really stretch to meet. My emotions go all over the place-- gratitude, fear, excitement, anxiety, overwhelm, and then the guilt of feeling negative feelings at all, when clearly opportunities are GOOD!
At first I felt a little guilty about this-- as if I was building protection against someone. But actually, it is simply for me, in support of me and my own energy. Rather than feeling this shield as a barrier between me and the person I'm interacting with, I walk into the situation feeling whole and safe already. This allows me to interact fully and warmly, without holding back for fear of being overtaken or attacked.
That swim seems to me like a miniature model of life. Anxiety crescendos and decrescendos; joy alights and then flies away. Grief goes on and on; overtaking me for a time and then lying low. Those anchovies are still out there somewhere in the ocean; sometimes they're all I can see, and sometimes the water is clear. Things come and then they go.
To ask what I should do next encourages me to use my brain and my judgement to think about what activities are valuable or desirable. But to ask what is required encourages me to be mindful of myself, inside and out. It asks me to scan the state of my mind and body and figure out my actions based on what I need at the moment.
Fredrickson gives a map of how to induce the upward spiral in our lives-- by intentionally creating and savoring positive moments, states, activities. I took the general principles that she mentions and brainstormed my own lists-- things I could do in my life to shift the balance just slightly from the negative to the positive. Each week, I would create a set of little goals for myself.
What to do when it's just a down day? It's Sunday. Sundays can be sort of inherently sad. I think for many of us, Sunday represents a difficult mental transition from fun-time to work-time, and it might contain a fair amount of anticipation or dread for the week to come. Sunday afternoon is basically the opposite of Friday afternoon. But, there's something more than that Sunday malaise that I'm feeling right now.
The purpose of sitting meditation is not just to learn to quiet our minds while sitting, but to increase our capacity for whole-life meditation, living and breathing mindfulness in our regular lives. Have you felt these moments? The glimpses of what it is like to be so "meta"— to be aware that you're aware?