THE “SECRET SAUCE” TO KEEP COOL AMIDST CHAOS
When Julie became a client, she was existing within a number of challenges that made daily joy, calm, passion and inspiration consistently seem ‘out of reach’. Julie was struggling with an all too common collection of ‘stuff’ that strong, high achieving women experience. A bit of anxiety, chronic busyness, and stuck in the throws of perfectionism (and its myriad plague of fears and self-doubts). She also struggled with the inevitable exhaustion, lack of play and adventure, career issues… and well, you get the picture (in fact, ‘she’ may be you!)
Fast forward to now, and I am incredibly proud to share with you the woman she has evolved into! An amazing and beautiful transformation from a version of frantic (body, mind, spirit, and life) into a Zen Goddess… Below is a blog written by her on a topic she has become very passionate about! Enjoy…
The following was written by Julie Granger Jessee, -Julie Granger, business Owner, Physical Therapist
“What if I told that you could break up with your diet, your social media feed, your sleep aids, your busy fitness schedule, your massage therapist, your acupuncturist and your supplements?
To my massage therapist and acupuncturist: If you’re reading this, please don’t worry. I’m not actually breaking up with you.
But seriously—everywhere we look these days we are bombarded by diets, supplements, fitness training plans, beauty regimens, books, sleep aids, friendship and relationship builders, TV shows, grocery delivery services, vacation packages, self-made business schemes, and child care how-to’s that claim to provide the “one thing” that will make you happiness.
I don’t know about you but I’ve certainly tried out, more than a few of the above. I too have been led to believe are the latest and greatest life fixer-uppers will eventually ‘make me happy’. Especially when Amazon delivers them for free within 48 hours!
But, what if I told you that—for the most part—subscribing to the belief that a book, box, pill or plan (usually) results in wasted time, money, and energy? Ironically, isn’t it true that we spend so much time, money and money to hang onto…wait for it…time, money and energy!?!?!
What if I told you that the secret to getting those things IS NOT in buying or striving.
If you haven’t already rolled your eyes, clicked away from this page and onto your Instagram feed, then take a deep breath and stay with me here.
Take another deep breath. Inhale through your nose for a 4-count as you fill up your belly and your chest. Hold it for 7 seconds. Now let it out slowly through your mouth (like you’re blowing through a straw) for 8 seconds.
Now do it again. This time as you exhale, release any tension you notice in your forehead and jaw.
No really, do it again. I’ll wait here.
One more time, with your eyes closed—releasing any tension through your shoulders, hands, belly, butt, inner thighs, calves, and feet. Ok go on, close your eyes and focus on this.
Did your mind wander over to that email or text notification that just flashed onto your screen? That’s ok! This is the beauty of life—we can always start fresh and refocus. So before you proceed any further on this post, go back, start over at the first breathing exercise, and give it a go again.
Now let’s just do it one more time for good measure. In for 4, hold for 7, out for 8. Notice any tension and slowly let it filter out of you on your exhales.
Now, how do you feel? A little lighter? Maybe lightheaded? A tiny bit more calm?
If you’re feeling lightheaded, perhaps, like me, you hadn’t stopped to focus on your breath lately and now you’ve hyperventilated a little bit! That’s no big deal—it will get better with practice, as will the lightness and calm! Maybe you feel a little more focused. Maybe for a half second you forgot about your Instagram feed, grocery list, kids’ after school schedule, or that big meeting you have coming up.
If you don’t feel any of those things, please don’t worry. Sometimes it’s hard to let go of life’s to-do lists over the course of a few breaths.
But congratulations—whether you feel different or not—you just participated in meditation!
For me, becoming a mindful meditator has been a lot like learning to roller skate for the first time—you can’t understand it or learn meditation through busyness or Facebook. Instead you must do it—and do it often—to learn best.
I don’t really remember learning to roller skate but I do know I was never very good, so the metaphor still stands! Regardless, as I learned to skate—and to meditate—I probably drifted down a path I didn’t love without even realizing. I felt awkward at first. I fell on my face. At times with meditation, I felt like I was making a fool out of myself when my husband would walk in on me facedown in some strange posture. For realskies—on occasion he’d come over and make sure I was still alive and breathing.
Like skating, I felt I wanted to hold on to the side of the rink for dear life while watching everyone else ‘do it’ seemingly effortlessly. But eventually, I found the balance between thinking through it (or not thinking at all), feeling what was natural, and finding what wasjust enough effort, but not too much. I realized that the more I did it, the more natural it felt and the less effort it took. And most importantly, I found that my whole world seemed to stop and melt into calm as I continued to glide along amidst the chaos around me.
You may be thinking what I thought initially: “What do I do when my mind drifts?” “Meditation is SO hard!” “I can’t turn my mind off!”
Yeah dude, me too.
I’m the President of Mind Chatterers Anonymous (though I guess it’s not anonymous anymore) See? There’s my mind chattering away even as I write.
But the thing is—minds DO wander! And meditation doesn’t have to be perfect. Your mind can drift. It can be messy. Welcome to being a human and not a pre-programmed robot.
And do you handle a wandering mind? You make friends with it! You know that friend you hang out with sometimes who has one too many glasses of wine and gets a little silly? Drifting from stranger to stranger at the bar, swearing they are all her new best friend? Yeah, that was my mind when I first started meditating. It liked to wander and talk about any and all other things, distract itself, and most definitely run down my seeming, 30,000 to-do lists.
During my early meditation practices, I’d just have to do for my mind what I’d do for my friend. Put my arm around her, whisper gently in her ear to “shhhhh”, and pull her back into my safe circle, telling her it’s ok to drift away, but I’d much prefer she stay with me.
So why do I meditate?
The real answer is “Why not?” But that wouldn’t make for a very juicy blog now would it?
Throughout my 20’s, I was the picture of anything but a calm, gliding roller skater, unaffected by all the chaos. In fact, I was the chaos! I invented the chaos. I strived to be the best, brightest, prettiest, healthiest, smartest, sexiest, coolest, and funniest at anything and everything. I thought, that I was having my cake, eating it too. All with a big bright (feigned) smile on my face. Everything was perfect.
I was also the drunk girl at the bar. Though in actuality, I was never really the drunk girl, because that would interfere with my striving to be perfectly in control of everything at all times.
You can probably guess where this is going…
Eventually, the effort it took to try to be perfect all the time caught up to me in the form of a severe panic attack. Ok, wake up call. Time to make some changes. And change I did.
I’ve become darn good at taking care of myself and finding the ‘secrets to freedom and happiness’, but there was still an something missing. Here are some examples of things that I did to maintain my ‘perfect’ life.
Extremely clean eater (no gluten, no dairy, low sugar, high protein, plant-based) diet –check
Daily exercise –check
Plenty of water –check
Decaf coffee only –check
Organic cleaning products –check
Short commute –check
Keeping up with friends via social media –check
Plenty of vacation –check
Reading a million self-growth books –check
Keeping a journal –check
Shed the perfectionism left and right –check
Spending quality time with husband and family –check
Quiet time for myself –check
Hiring a kick ass coach –check
Listening to what kick ass coach told me to do –check
After all, this was overachieving me we’re talking about here. Of course I did all of those things with bells on! You tell me to jump, I make sure to calculate exactly how high and build my own springboard in order to help me not only get there, but get there fast, and stick my landing for a perfect 10.
While I was admittedly making big strides to shed the demons of fear, anxiety, shame, and perfectionism, I continued to be abundantly aware that the feeling of “not _____ enough” was still