The antidote to overscheduling and overwork is simplicity.
The antidote to dissatisfaction and disappointment is gratitude.
The antidote to fear and doubt is vulnerability and compassion.
The antidote to criticism and denunciation is non-judgment.
The antidote to narrow-mindedness is Beginner’s Mind.
The antidote to wondering and guessing is intuition.
The antidote to health issues and overwhelm is self-care.
The antidote to anxiety is breathing.
The antidote to wild and crazy thoughts is meditation.
The antidote to overwhelm and overscheduling is subtraction and saying no.
The antidote to concerns about THEN is to Be Here NOW.
The antidote to an impacted schedule is idleness.
The antidote to stress, tension, and running on fumes is taking care of you.
The antidote to suffering is detachment and acceptance.
The antidote to white noise and chaos is silence.
The antidote to clutter and overcrowded living areas is space.
The antidote to hyperspeed is stillness.
The antidote to agitation and distress is peace and tranquility.
The antidote to worrying about the past and brooding about the future is living in The Moment.
We have always known the poison.
But now we know the antidote.* TZT
*Actually, we’ve ALWAYS known the antidote, we just refuse to give ourselves permission to use it.
We have too much stuff.
If you don’t believe me, count the number of storage facilities in your zip code. We own so much stuff that an entire industry has mushroomed up around housing all of our crap, all of the stuff that has grown beyond the boundaries of our own homes.
Do we need it?
Is it necessary?
While talking to someone near and dear to me the other day about the amount of stuff we all have, she said she always asks herself the following questions when considering adding to her possessions:
Because I generally suck at this and want to buy every shiny new object I see in the Brookstone catalogue, I am challenging myself to ask these questions before the next time I reach for my wallet. Because in this culture of conspicuous consumption, even being aware of these questions can help us be mindful about the choices we make, the trinkets we purchase, and the cubic inches we fill with our American Dream detritus.
If we ask ourselves these questions, and put them into practice, we will not only save some Dead Presidents, but we may also just create just a little more space in our lives for the things that really matter.
And that's worth the price of admission right there. TZT
Yesterday I spent some glorious relaxation time at Balboa Park, one of my favorite San Diego Bliss Stations. While sitting at an umbrellaed table with a view of a majestic museum, a gorgeous fountain, and a steady stream of camera-toting tourists, I was re-reading Jen Sincero’s book You are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life. I love this book for its humor, its practicality, and its impetus to get out there and make things happen.
On page 38, Sincero is discussing the benefits of being present* and writes, “Stop and notice how you feel right now. Feel your breath moving in and out of your body. Feel the air on your skin. Feel your heart beating. Your eyes seeing. Your ears hearing. Notice the energy inside and outside of you buzzing.”
Even though I have told you similar things many times, it was a nice reminder for me and so I decided to take her advice and stop right then and there and be present in the moment.
This is what my “present” looked like and what I noticed**:
--A Persian family speaking Farsi pushing a stroller with a toddler in it who was sucking on a red pacifier.
--The bell tower striking 10:45.
--A rehearsal at the Organ Pavillion where the organist was playing music that sounded like something from a 1950’s horror movie.
--A plane from San Diego’s Lindbergh Field airport flying over my left shoulder.
--An expansive blue San Diego summer sky.
--The clop clop of that child’s flip flops.
--A slight breeze on my right forearm.
--Two female friends in Spanx-like activewear walking a majestic-looking, hip high dog.
--The ding of a bell on the cable-car-style trolley that carries tourists around the park.
--A small Hispanic woman in a straw hat taking pictures of the fountain with her iPhone.
--Four old guys at the table next to me talking histrionically about the 1960s.
--A European-looking man, maybe 23, wearing designer sunglasses and a European-looking neckless T-shirt snapping photos with his expensive-looking DSLR camera.
--A conservatively-dressed woman in her 60s with hair dyed a shade of punk rock purple that is too vibrant not to be on purpose.
This all happened within the space of three minutes or so. Stopping to notice my current present absolutely grounded me, calmed me, and brought me directly into the moment. I wasn't worried about the obligations at home, paying bills, or health issues.
I was simply where I was.
So I challenge you to stop right this moment, use your senses, and recapture a bit of your life.
It isn’t hard. In fact, the hardest part is remembering to stop and do it.
That’s why I’m grateful I was reviewing Sincero’s book with its timely reminder.
And if you DO stop now and check in, please remember: it’s not about things being great. It’s about noticing—without judgment—the current present. Whatever that looks like in your world. It works as well during eating an apple or fighting with your spouse or sitting at a red light as it does while relaxing in the park.
Take a moment.
Notice what is. TZT
*I also like the book because it nicely aligns with The Zen Teacher message.
**Two final thoughts: 1) We get most of our information from this world visually, so most of the images are visual, and 2) As a writer and former actor, people watching is second nature to me, so that's why most of the images are of people.
If you'd like to learn more about being in the present, reducing stress, and improving self-care, please check out The Zen Teacher: Creating Focus, Simplicity, and Tranquility in the Classroom here.
When I’m ready to relax, I often sit in an overstuffed chair in our office.
As you can see from the picture, it’s a big, brown, comfortable, cozy chair, and I often plop down in it when I’m reading, writing, or listening to music. Certain things are typically within arm’s reach: my bowl of hot, buttered popcorn, my bullet journal, a stack of soon-to-be-played CDs, or maybe even an amber-colored beverage (might be sparkling apple cider, we don’t know).
Joseph Campbell, author of The Power of Myth, talked about the importance of a sacred place where you can feel soothed, comforted, and taken care of. Sometimes referred to as a “Bliss Station,” it is a place you return to when you’re ready to take care of YOU.
Campbell tells us:
“You must have a room, or a certain hour or so a day, where you don’t know what was in the newspapers that morning, you don’t know who your friends are, you don’t know what you owe anybody, you don’t know what anybody owes to you. This is a place where you can simply experience and bring forth what you are and what you might be. This is the place of creative incubation. At first you may find that nothing happens there. But if you have a sacred place and use it, something eventually will happen.”
(via Austin Kleon)
Many of us have nowhere to turn in our busy, hectic, chaotic, stressful lives to unwind, recharge, and simply remove ourselves from The White Noise of Life. We have neglected to honor our need for some rest, reflection, and rejuvenation.
Creating a Bliss Station, then, is one way we can improve the quality of our self-care (without dropping five large on a trip to Europe).
So what does a Bliss Station look like?
It might be:
A Bliss Station is not the place to pay your bills, fret, worry, or complete other chores that stress you out. It's sacred because it's a place you ONLY use and ONLY go to when you want to be renewed.
One interesting side note: As Campbell tells us in the first sentence of the quote above, your Bliss Station can be a “when” as well as a “where.” Another important point is that clearly, your Bliss Station doesn't have to be expensive or elaborate.
As I talk about in my book The Zen Teacher, I often watched my father come home from work and remove himself from the stress and hassle of the day by donning his headphones and listening to Joe Cocker, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Wilson Pickett, and Percy Sledge.
That was his Bliss Station.
Because we also spent many evenings listening to Classic Rock and R&B as a family, it also became one of mine.
So chances are you already have a Bliss Station and you just don’t know it.
My challenge for you is that if you have one, identify it and then use it.
Use it frequently and with abandon.
Luxuriate in the experience and the habit of it.
And if you don’t have one, make one. Today.
Campbell believed that everyone is entitled to some bliss.
Not only do I agree, but I’ve made it my mission to persuade the world that Campbell was right.
And I’m starting with you. TZT
*Not exactly MY Bliss Station, but hey, knock yourself out.
**I'm not an animal person, so I can't believe I really just used that expression out loud. :)
DO YOU HAVE A BLISS STATION OR SACRED SPACE? I'D LOVE TO HEAR ABOUT IT IN THE COMMENTS SECTION.
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The Zen Teacher