Today I walked by some people who were talking about being irritated about the empowerment of a certain community of people in cinema . . . well, I began to seethe and give them a piece of my mind – in my mind. “Does empowering a group of people make it so that there is less power to go around for you?” I cleverly retorted. Etcetera etcetera. It went on and on, this fictitious conversation in which I told them what I thought of what they’d said. Oy.
Thankfully, by grace, I had had one of my more intentional mornings. And my awareness level was higher than usual so I was able to realize what I was doing to myself! And was actually able to nip it in the bud pretty quickly, I’d say, within five minutes anyway.
Because I was having a more aware day, I had the capacity to allow my brain to become un-hijacked and to remember that there is an alternative.
Because I was having a more intentional day, I cared enough to actually do something about what I was doing, rather than allowing it to continue.
So I did the practice. Because I’ve done it before. Because I know it. And because I know it works. Even if I don’t feel like doing it at the time.
What I know is that my brain doesn’t know the difference between a real or imagined conversation. So there I was getting huffier and huffier and my body was starting to react. I was walking faster and harder and all the body stuff that goes along with having a confrontation, fictitious or otherwise. It’s no different with any of the other catastrophizing or story creating I do in which I’m going down an imaginary scenario of scary stuff that could happen but never will. My brain thinks it’s happening. My nervous system responds. My body reacts.
Blessed awareness reminds me this time that I can do it differently. I can counter this kind of habitual cruise control thinking. And – I can STOP it. I can stop the momentum in its tracks.
So that’s what I did. I was like, “Fine, drop a stop,” and I began to envision my stop sign based upon the first thing I saw on the ground in front of me, a rock. I started describing my sign out loud, at first reluctantly, because the momentum was already going, and in that toddler-like, foot-stomping stubbornness I get sometimes when “I don’t wanna” make a change, I didn’t want to have to work myself out of it. But I did anyway, because I wanted to feel better. And I wanted to take back my power.
And so I detailed it. It’s made of rock. The rock has one of those white lucky stripes all the way around it. The letters are cut all the way through and there’s an outline around the outside of the letters that’s purple-ish brown for where the letters got cut out of the rock. And the rock is sitting atop a stack of other rocks, near the top of a cairn. And a bird has made a nest within the O. And then I smiled.
And I noticed.
I had just gotten myself from a state of
feeling frantic to smiling!
It had calmed me down.
I had given my brain something else to do.
My nervous system had sent out the all clear,
and my body had relaxed.
Now that’s power.
You can read more details about the Drop a Stop practice here.