Happy Monday everybody! Sorry I’ve been MIA this past week; I had my last teaching week of graduate school (and hopefully ever!) and was focused on getting through that and enjoying the springtime weather which has finally decided to grace those of us in Aberdream with its presence. During lunch and coffee breaks I actually relished sitting outside; I don’t mind lounging on the university’s grounds in the cold-how could I with such a picturesque campus-but the warmth and (occasional) sunshine definitely improve any time outdoors. Even though this past week was a whirlwind of lectures, written proposals, and presentations, I took the time to find a peaceful moment or two for myself.
Too often I’ve been struck with undue stress or worry over something I don’t have much control over. Whether it’s another person’s feelings, a project deadline, or my borderline neurotic worries about finding a job after graduation (see the last few posts), I get stressed. I’m sure we all do-it’s part of being human and, if you want to get really scientific, a basic bodily response to external stimuli. But I don’t particularly want to get scientific, so I’ll leave it at that. Thankfully I’ve gotten better at handling my worries over outside situations in the last few years, even more so since moving to the UK, but it does still sneak up on me…again, check out the last post for my latest in tears. For some reason, I still have no idea why, I kept thinking back to one class I had during my undergraduate years.
The Alexander Technique was a class I took my final year at UMD and it was confusing and insightful all at once. My professor, Leslie, is a delightfully quirky and brilliant woman who constantly challenged us to “just be.” We studied human anatomy, the way babies move, how our breath changed with various emotions…things that probably sound utterly ridiculous but are amazingly insightful. One of the many gifts I gained from that class was exposure to Pema Chödrön, an American Tibetan Buddhist. Leslie included her book Taking the Leap on our reading list and we were told to reflect upon the readings weekly. I could go on about this book forever, but I already did that in my journal for the class and I don’t want to influence anyone’s opinions if they decide to read it. Essentially, one of the most significant points for me was the focus on not letting past events impair who we want to become. That’s not to say experiences from our past don’t inform who we are and who we will be; in fact, I would say the opposite is true. Every moment and interaction we have, no matter how insignificant it may seem at the time, could very well impact who we become. Rather, we should be able to acknowledge whatever has happened without letting it control us entirely.
When we accept that events, people, and circumstances will affect us in some way, I think we actually regain some sense of self-autonomy. We may be in control, or we may not, and we certainly cannot control those around us. We can, however, accept responsibility over how we feel. Let the waves of emotion run over you; feel yourself swept up by the tides and currents of human existence, and then remember that it’s your life. Being scared or uncertain is entirely normal; frankly, I’d be more worried if somebody claimed they were never ever unsure of anything. I’d also want them to teach me their secrets, but that’s another story entirely. Whatever you feel and experience though, find your way back to your own peace. Be it peace with your circumstances, friends and family, or simply peace in knowing you have no idea what will happen next…allowing this into your life can make a world of difference.
Take a moment every day this week to find your peace. It may be over a steaming cup of freshly brewed coffee in the wee morning hours, strolling through the forest or alongside the sea, or wherever you find that harmonic balance of control and discord (believe me, we’ve all got that little balance inside of us!). When we begin to teach ourselves to accept this balance and to find our inner peace, amazing things can happen. There are days when I simply feel at peace from sunrise until dusk, and countless more where those peaceful moments are few and far between. By learning to embrace these occasions, whenever they arise, I find myself genuinely enjoying every moment of life-even the ones, believe it or not, that involve tears and tissues. There are constantly ups and downs, high tides and low ones, and inner peace isn’t about tempering these currents. Rather, it’s about going along for the ride with our self-assurance and self-identity to keep us buoyed throughout the ride.