Spirit Grooves

Quieting my Infernal Inner Ramblings

By on March 27, 2012

Welcome to the March Mindful Mama Carnival: Mindful Mama Challenge

This post was written for inclusion in the Mindful Mama Carnival hosted by Becoming Crunchy and TouchstoneZ. This month our participants have challenges they’ve set for themselves toward becoming more mindful. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

My Thoughts on this Subject…

I was racking my brain trying to come up with some new thing I could do to be more mindful. It’s not that I’m already doing so much or so well, that I had a hard time. It’s that I just don’t have the inner peace and centered-ness/grounded-ness at the moment. I don’t feel like I have much space to add more mindfulness, or anything for that matter.

Finally it dawned on me. This is something I’ve been pondering for quite a while now and I started to figure it out when I would catch myself playing with Em, but really just counting the minutes until I could get back to getting some work done. I usually managed to stop, but I judge myself that it took effort. I had to re-learn how to simply play. I would get a bit jealous of Stephen’s mom because when she was here playing, she just played. I was never so free.

So I started trying to make times, even if it was only an hour, when I was only a playmate, not a mom fitting in some playtime between chores.

This is a constant challenge for me. And my other neat trick is to talk about what’s coming up. It was so hard for me when she was really little, because I knew that little kids have no concept of  “later” or “tomorrow”… and that it would just confuse her. So I had to bite my tongue constantly. I started noticing then how often I’m on to the next thing in my head.

As she’s gotten older, and since my girl has always been extraordinarily verbal… she actually calls me out on it. She’s said to me, “Mom, just be with me,” or, “why are you talking about that when we’re doing this?” It blew me away the first time and I had to decide not to be crushed by my failure and to just shift. That was what she really wanted anyway. And as children are so good at, she forgave and forgot instantly.

I’ve learned to enjoy playing again. I still have to let go almost every time. I have to make a decision to be in the moment and to find my inner kid. It’s more fun for both of us if I’m playing for myself and not just for her.

I was surprised that mud gave my first real breakthrough. In the summer of her 2nd year, we started spending almost every day outside in the mud. She had a whole world under the grapefruit and orange tree. It looked like an archaeological dig. Some of you may remember that I was not the outdoorsy type, but since I wanted her to be the nature girl I never was, I faked it til I maked it. I got to practice letting go and getting dirty in that mud. There’ s no way to play in the mud halfway. (You can tell I was proud of myself.)

It was a start. And as life got more and more busy, even though I still tried to remain conscious of being present with her, I stopped thinking about it or trying to learn more.

Recently my husband and I have given ourselves the opportunity to deepen and re-claim our relationship. Part of the process for me has been that I’ve made room in my concept of my own near perfection to take in what he’s been saying about how I am constantly thinking about the next thing and the next. He’ll often say, “You just talked about 5 different things, none of them having to do with this moment or what we’re doing right now.”

I see now how this has also taken something from our relationship and our time together (which is much harder to come by now that we have a child.)

The why of it is that I’ve used this technique as a method to cope with my lifelong anxiety. So, I’m really strong in my ability to be in my head and I also make lists, think of what needs to be done, etc…. to hopefully stop worrying about it, problem solve ahead of time, or to imagine the worst thing that can happen and figure out how to survive it.

The things I do in my head:

1. Make lists, problem solve, try to sort out and organize all the things that need to be done.

2. Imagine the worst that can happen so that I can imagine surviving it and let go of the anxiety.

3. Imagine the near future in which things are going well and everyone is happy…. whatever thing I want to focus on or whatever I’m working toward. A sort of visualization, I suppose.

4. Create! I’m an idea person. I can’t help but think of things to do, blog, write, invent, etc…..

5. Barrier. I believe that I learned some of this as a child when I was very open psychically. I think I didn’t have a filter and things, energies, voices, images would invade if I didn’t have a wall of sound. I was a very frightened kid.

So, some of these are good things to do. Positive and productive. The problem is that I don’t know how to NOT do them. I don’t know how to be at peace and quiet in my mind. I’ve been asking my husband, “What are you thinking about right now?” Driving is a big one for me. I’ll start just rambling out loud to him all the things that are in my head and sometimes he’ll stop me. What I don’t get is, what do people do in their heads when they’re not thinking? Stephen just asks me if we can talk about anything else but what we have to do next or some other task oriented list. We can usually find something creative to talk about. He loves to hear about any creative idea I have and those are wonderful conversations where we can get excited and inspire each other.

So, how do I change this?

1. Become aware. I’ve told Stephen that I don’t mind if he points it out to me since I still don’t always notice it.

2. Make time for quiet practice. Not meditation. Too extreme for me. I want to start doing Tai Chi again. That would be a good time to practice being in my body and quieting my inner voice.

3. Stephen and I are going to start a practice of just sitting together and being. A partner meditation. Sitting cross legged, knee to knee and holding hands. I’ll start by being aware only of his touch and tuning into my body in that very moment. (I’m really looking forward to this one.)

4. Chanting

5. Dedicated play time with Em.

6. Dedicated time to actually process and think about what needs to be done. Inner voice free for all!

7. Workout daily to relieve anxiety naturally.

I would love any other ideas anyone has. This is really hard for me. But I suspect it will change my life for the better in so many ways. I suspect it will make my creative time more productive as well. When I sit down to write or create jewelry or my dolls…. I have to work, sometimes hard, at emptying my mind to allow my vision to manifest. I want to be able to hear the more subtle voices of my guidance or energies of the universe.





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  1. Ellen
    March 27, 2012

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    What a great post, and one I can really relate to since I battle with anxiety as well. I totally get the driving thing. That’s when I sort of have my husband corralled and know that he can’t go anywhere or do anything else other than listen to me. I have tried to stop doing that, since it’s not fair to hold someone as your captor! lol
    When I was seeing a therapist after my mom’s accident, she told me that whenever I started getting overwhelmed, I needed to immediately direct that energy towards something I could do anywhere, anytime – like breathing. So now, when I’m having anxiety I will take a deep breath in through my nose, hold it for three counts, let out a third of the air (slowly) and hold for another three counts, let out another third and hold, then let the rest out until the lungs are empty. Hold a couple of counts at the end. Then let breathing come back to normal for three rounds and do the process again. It forces the mind to concentrate on something else, and truly does calm you. Sounds almost too easy but it does take practice to actually DO it from beginning to end.
    Sorry for the rambling comment, but I also wanted to let you know how great it is that you can just have playtime with your daughter. That’s one thing that I’m sure you consider a gift. Adults without children forget how to just ‘be’. Playtime is a long-forgotten thing of the past. What creativity it must generate for you, not to mention the quality time with your daughter :)

    • treepeters
      March 27, 2012

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      Thank you for that technique. It sounds simple, but it’s somethign I can actually do. I know that I do hold my breath when I feel anxious and that makes it all worse.
      I bet your doggies help you remember how to play. it might be a little different, but I’ve found that dog lovers get to learn a way of being truly present and loving unconditionally that others might not. There’s no other way with a dog than to be real and to love back as truly loved as you get.
      And if you ever want to try something like dress-up, you can come here!!!

  2. CJ
    March 27, 2012

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    “So I started trying to make times, even if it was only an hour, when I was only a playmate, not a mom fitting in some playtime between chores.”

    I’m so impressed that you started with an hour! I started with 12 minutes. I used a timer. It’s all I could do at the time. It’s gotten better, but an hour is still too much for me to be 100% present.

    One thing that’s helped me with mindfulness and being present is Doing One Thing. I like to do dishes this way. I just do dishes and focus on that experience and nothing else, letting go of all of the planning and worrying and ruminating. I don’t do dishes this way every time, and it’s not always dishes (but it’s mostly a chore of some sort, like brushing my teeth or sweeping the floor…something I’m usually not “present” for). It seems to help me make being mindful a habit so it’s not so darned difficult.

  3. Sam
    March 27, 2012

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    I am completely with you here! I am such a dreamer and planner that I am already talking about the 4th thing down the list before my husband has even caught up with the first. I love the idea of just sitting and being, there is a lot to be said (pun intended!) for a comfortable silence – We will be trying that one out!

  4. Karen@WaistingTime
    March 27, 2012

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    Oh I can’t help. Inside my head I am going a mile a minute. You should see what’s going on in there during the relaxation at the end of yoga!

    • treepeters
      March 27, 2012

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      I knew we had lots in common!!!

  5. Melissa
    March 27, 2012

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    I can relate to this so much! I am always thinking of something else. Always. I also tell Annabelle about things that will happen in the future and at her age, it’s really, really not helpful. I can’t figure out why I think to spout the things I do sometimes. This is something I’ve been working on for quite some time, but it feels like one step forward, two steps back sometimes. I’m really inspired by the simple, yet concrete ways you have chosen to quiet your mind. I think some of those would be quite helpful for me!

    • treepeters
      March 27, 2012

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      I’m actually relieved to hear that you do that same thing!!!
      I suspect our girls can handle anything we dish out, but it’s good for us to practice being in the moment, right?
      Well, having a new baby will keep you right in the moment for a while!

  6. Feather Story
    March 27, 2012

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    Great post… you are so fortunate that you have your little on and you significant other on your side to give you little reminders. Of course like you said your habits are pretty good practices you’ve built up you just need to have more free-time from the defensive mind-state.

    I just wanted to share with you that though you mentioned meditation as too extreme for you, you mentioned a few types of meditation in your post. Tai Chi, sitting/being with your SO, chanting, exercise and creativity can all be forms of meditation…meditation is about where it takes you, not how it looks. Sounds like you have a great plan.

    The only extra I can think of right now is trying to multi-task your creative time, with playing with your daughter and planning/list-making.

    I’ve found that making visualization boards, posters or journal entries can be a great project to do with my kids when I feel I need to spend quality time with them, but have too much on my mind to completely let go… I hope it all goes well for you and look forward to you sharing your progress.

  7. Laura @ LauraLivesLife
    March 27, 2012

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    I’m trying to be more mindful in listening to body to know when to eat and when not to exercise! It’s harder then I thought – but I’m making progress!

  8. Zoie @ TouchstoneZ
    March 28, 2012

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    Really lovely post, Tree. I find being fully present in play to be a constant work in progress, too. When we’re out and about, I can be goofy and playful. At home, I remember that I’m tired or that I have things to get done. Being present with my kids takes more effort.

    I really liked how you broke down the list, keying in on your strengths, noticing areas that you may not enjoy or may be more difficult for you, then either letting them go or concentrating only on the strengths. I also really enjoyed the self-empathy you are giving yourself! We could all use a bit more of that when being mindful!

    Thank you for participating in the Mindful Mama Carnival.

  9. Kelly
    March 28, 2012

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    I feel so often like I can never get out of my head (or just get the constant swirling thoughts to STOP for a moment!). For me as well it is all too often a negative thing – self talk, dwelling…all mixed in with the constant planning and double checking and staying a step ahead. It’s certainly quite exhausting.

    I love your list for sure and will definitely be implementing some of these things (especially the relational aspects). I’ve also found shoving a deliberately positive, thankful thought among all the rambling seems to help bring a quietness, allowing me to focus on one thing and just breathe a kind of thankfulness. I seem to notice most how much it really helps when I stop doing it for awhile! Think it is time to join in on this challenge…

  10. Munchberry
    March 28, 2012

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    I am with ya on the meditation and SO do not get it when people say they just clear their minds. I used to think I did that when I vacuumed or folded laundry, but NOPE, that was just time for glorious uninterrupted brain feed.

    I remember a post you did like almost a year ago of you on the floor playing with Em. The house was covered with toys and she looked in her glory and you tranquil in a blue coverup or dress – something like that. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Parents have more distractables. I love to play with little kids. We take turns making up new games or how we will be doing something. You like to bake – let her help and decide what will go in. She is in love with dad – time to make him cupcakes with whatever she thinks dad might like in them. It does not matter right – she just wants undivided you and to be the center of things. As it should be. You already do that. You are a loving, caring and thoughtful mom and your child is a lucky lucky girl.

  11. Dionna @ Code Name: Mama
    March 28, 2012

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    Oh wow, I can SO relate to what you have written! It mus just be a quirk of personality – I think my husband throws his hands up with my constant “on-ness” too.Doesn’t everyone think all.the.time.?
    I feel the same way about play time with Kieran – I have to force myself to be in the moment, esp. when I have a baby attached to me. (sigh) And he knows it too. Thank you for the reminder to be conscious of the quality of time we are spending with our littles.

  12. beerab
    April 1, 2012

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    Did you ever see Gone with the Wind? When Scarlett says “I’ll think about that tomorrow” that concept BLEW MY MIND AWAY.

    I used to think and think and think about stuff until I thought my mind would explode, there were times I wouldn’t sleep I was thinking so much I’d wind myself up to the point of no return.

    I had to literally tell myself “I’ll think about that tomorrow” or “I’m not going to think about that now” or “I’m going to enjoy the moment” and ask crazy as it sounded (yes I talk to myself) over time it worked. When I told myself I wouldn’t think about something and didn’t, I’d feel victorious :)

    Sounds like you are taking the right steps, and I’m sure you’ll find what works for you.

  13. rani
    April 2, 2012

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    I love what you and your partner will be doing together. I will have to try that with my husband and see how it goes! Love the mud escapes!!! I find it hard to just be at times, and realize that with anything…it takes time and practice! Thanks for your post!!!

  14. goodnuff
    April 5, 2012

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    I hope you know without any doubt that you are one wonderful parent!
    Again as I was reading through this I started thinking, oh how I wish I could go back and do it all over again and do a better job. I was a single parent, going to school full-time+ and working part time, all I could do was think about how I was going to pass this or pay for that. Then just when I was going to graduate and be able to focus more on her her dad decided he wanted 50/50 placement. I mean look, I didn’t even name her well….Moody, what kind of name is that? Lol, jk. But as I finished your post I realized that even though she is 21 now I am still her mom, I can still try harder to be present,with her and probably most other people I spend time with.
    Thank you for the inspiration.

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