Learning to Relax to Keep from Losing my Cool

Photo by Squid Larkin

Photo by Squid Larkin

When I was single and lived alone on the mountain, I used to walk in the forest at Wildwood. Mid-way through the walk, an impossibly tall pine tree would call out to me, and I would collapse against it and cry. Long, gulping, releasing tears. I felt cleaner, lighter, freer afterwards.

Today I had almost the same experience. But I was in my bedroom. In my jeans and pajama top. My daughter and wife in the kitchen nearby. Discussions about snack: blueberries and string cheese. Loud toddler demands for more. A cat snoring heavily on my arm.

And me?

I was….meditating. No, REALLY!

This woman, at the Peaceful Parent Institute, has this meditation track. On it, she plays the Celtic harp and says things softly in her New Zealand accent. Things about releasing, relaxing, shaking loose. Being at peace. Being safe. All being well.

I am NOT a meditator. I do not meditate. At least, not well.

I am an eye-roller, a skeptic, a recovering cynic.

(When I was in graduate school, one of the members of our cohort had a monthly transformative experience. Vistas were opening! Insights were profound! It was changing his life! He would never be the same! I secretly mocked this person. A LOT.)

But….

…..this meditation thing might be CHANGING MY LIFE!

Because here’s the thing: I don’t know how to relax. I only know how to escape, via scrabble games on facebook, sci-fi books from the library, and british crime shows on netflix.

Escape and relax are not the same. In fact, they are kind of the opposite. To escape is to run away from the anxiety, stress, and despair. To relax is to do that opening, being-at-peace, all-is-well thing that apparently can actually resolve and release that tight knot of ack! and ungh! and grrr.

I desperately need to relax because the daily picking up of the same random household items over and over and over is driving me nuts. I get angry. I get frustrated. And then I get angry AND frustrated…and I explode and sweep the kitchen floor in a furious stabbing motion that is toxic for me and my family.

I knew, going into motherhood, that this was going to be an issue for me. A “growing edge” (to be charitable).

But this woman (her name is Genevieve) says that anger and frustration comes from unmet needs.

I wonder if all the needs I think I have: to use my brain, to pee in private, to have a kitchen floor you can walk across without becoming mired in half-chewed graham crackers mixed with used Q-tips, tupperware lids and toilet paper…if those needs are all kind of a symptom. A surface issue (hee hee).

The deeper need is that I need to know everything-is-okay-regardless-of-the-chaos-around-me.

I can’t run in the woods but I can (thanks to my wonderful wife) hide in my bedroom and listen to this meditation track for ten minutes, once a week. And those ten minutes, accumulated, might just save my life.

***

How do you relax? Or if you are like me, and this question is almost incomprehensible,  then: how do you keep your balance?