I realized the other day that I haven’t driven my car in three weeks. Three. Weeks. And I live in suburbia.
Do you know what that means? It means I’ve been in my house for three weeks straight with zero distance between me and my children.
Zero. Distance. I walk upstairs and one is pushing past me to beat me to the top — for whatever reason — while the other is talking non-stop about some absurd game where he can collect 50,000,000 kajillion thingy-bots that he can then trade-in for a power-source gem that will unlock a treasure chest that will give him enough money to buy an airplane that he can land in his airfield which he bought after selling sheep to some farmer.
What the eff? Mind numb. Who comes up with these games? The gaming industry is clearly on to us strung-out parents who at this point no longer give a sh*t about what their kids are playing on their devices as long as they’re distracted and away from us.
Yes, play games till your ears bleed.
Time away is essential.
Being confined to one's house is not all that bad, but there is an ever-growing need for space, and time away for sanity’s sake. When these simple needs are ignored, the result is sporadic Mommy Dearest moments with the occasional bout of ugly sobs in the bathroom — where instead of quieting the sobs, they seem to echo and reach every corner of the house. I quickly learned that I needed a Plan B.
Never would I have thought that walking and meditating would work so well, but one day when I was sick of listening to my overplayed playlist, I decided to try one these meditations I mistakenly downloaded onto my phone. I don’t even remember when or why it was downloaded, but nonetheless, there it was when I was desperately trying to escape the present moment. (Which I in fact needed to submerge myself in… quite ironic and a bit of a mindf*ck.)
Turns out, besides giving my children time to play on devices, the real saving grace has been getting outdoors; it’s become the one thing I can rely on to give me a mental reset.
When I do make it out, which is on most days, my “sanity” walk is my new BFF. The reason I think it’s so helpful is that it’s teaching me how to not react to annoying stimuli, but to respond. The difference is that in order to respond properly, spewing venom from your lips is no longer an option.
Responding means you allow for there to be a moment before the words come flying out of your mouth. Responding saves feelings from being hurt. It saves you from engaging in unnecessary arguments, or apologies having to be handed out later in the day when tempers have eased.
This takes time to get better at, but since we’re all living in our own perverse versions of the movie Groundhog Day, each day is another chance to get it right.
If you’re game to try, it’s quite simple
Here’s what I do in case you want to give this a heartfelt try —and I stress heartfelt because if your heart isn’t into it and you’re feeling weird already thinking about walking and meditating — if it feels like you’ve just dipped your toes in the baptismal pool of pure consciousness and visions of Deepak Chopra flashed before you and it’s making you feel uneasy, no worries… you can stay at home with your kids.
For the rest of us strung-out peace seekers, your first step is to find a guided meditation on your music service provider of choice. I’ve found a few good ones on Spotify — it turns out they all have English accents so kudos to the Brits for always sounding soothing and in control.
Next, you’re going to take your walk but here’s the part that may trip you up, and this part is essential: you’re going to have to focus and pay attention to the words of the cool and composed Brit, or whoever is guiding your meditation. Your mind is going to want to take this opportunity to strategize how best to tackle the day ahead, or it’s going to want to rehash all that’s been going wrong, but your sanity depends on listening and diving headfirst into the moment, so pay attention to the words you are listening to.
Slow down your walk. Pay attention to your breath. Relax your body. Look at your surroundings. Look at your neighborhood as if you’ve never seen it before. And, as you’re nearing the end of your walk and you’re feeling more zen-like, you’re then going to create one intention for yourself. One little intention. When I get home I’ll write it down on a piece of paper so I’ll remember it throughout the day — a helpful tactic when I begin to feel the tide coming in, getting ready to wash over me.
A few of mine over the past few days have been: I am space and I will allow a moment to pass before I speak.
Or, I accept my situation and I will be the sunshine my children need in this time of uncertainty. (That’s a good one. When you accept what’s happening around you, you’re not fighting with it and you’re allowing it to just be. Suffering eases.)
And yes, this may all be a little new-agey and it can start to feel weird, but you have to embrace the weird and the metaphysical, otherwise, it won’t work as well.
Through these walks, I’ve been able to let go of angst and unease, and I’ve loosened my grip on the idea of having to be in control of everything, from writing to homeschooling to cleaning to cooking to laundry — oh lord the laundry. It’s been incredibly helpful.
Getting out into nature, taking a nice, long, easy, and meditative stroll, letting go of the things I can’t control, and bearing witness to how my little world has opened up has been my therapy over the last few weeks. Slowing down the thoughts, emotions, and learning to respond instead of reacting can change the way you experience life.
And while my days aren’t perfect, I know tomorrow I’ll have another chance to get it right. The beauty of Groundhog Day.
AM Costanzo is a wellness coach and motivational junkie, loves a-ha moments, and works hard to help others feel strong, powerful, and downright fabulous in body and mind!