Ever felt like Bugs Bunny in this video? You take a running leap, swan dive oh-so-gracefully into a frozen pond, and break up into a dozen pieces.
Maybe for you it's more like you're so busy that you're spinning, spinning, until parts start flying off. Your plan to exercise winds up in a potted plant. Collecting the kids from school whooshes under the couch.
Or your mind is an overstuffed closet and the only way to find anything in it is to dump it all out onto the floor and sort it out there. If you can find the floor.
When this happens to me (like today...) the first thing I do is kick myself for being scattered. I give myself a stern talking-to, full of "should"s and "ought"s and "everyone else"s. This does not help.
@@Should-ing on yourself never helps.@@
What does help piece me back together and put my mental and spiritual life in order is breathing. In the moment, this soul-gathering breath practice looks like this:
- Stand still.
- Close eyes.
- Breath in very slowly through my nose.
- Breath out through somewhat pursed lips, like blowing out a candle, until there's no air left and I can't help but inhale.
- Repeat 3 and 4 three times.
- Open eyes.
The first few times I did that it worked great. Then it stopped working for awhile because I allowed my mind to start hoarding thoughts before the third breath was completely finished. Once I realized I was doing that I started focusing on noticing the breath itself entering and exiting my body.
The Three Deep Breaths Soul Gathering Practice (ideas for shorter names are welcome) nearly always buys me a few minutes of quieted mind, slowed heartrate, and less panicked frustration.
Today, in that breath-bought moment of quiet I realized two things: that I'd spent morning time reading my Facebook and Twitter feeds, and that I need to reinstate my Rule of Life*. Morning is when I organize my thoughts, scan my calendar, make notes, assign tasks. Facebook and Twitter are collections of disorganized, random, often angry, snippets of input. So just as I'm making my mind smooth and orderly, feeds dump hundreds of factlets and opinionoids onto my mental desktop.
My mind becomes an overflowing dumpster, complete with rancid-milk smell. When that happens, my nicely integrated being swan dives into a dozen pieces.
@@Small shifts of habit can make huge differences in the health of our spirits and souls.@@ For me, the Three Deep Breaths Soul Gathering Practice (really, folks--we need a shorter name) and refraining from unnecessary input in the morning helps keep me intact and moving forward.
*A Rule of Life is an intentional rhythm of spiritual discipline and practice that provides orderly structure and substance to one's daily, seasonal, and annual life. If you're interested in hearing about my next courses and guides to spiritual rhythms, you can sign up for my mailing list, below.