the thing that keeps coming to my mind as i prepare to write my newsletter is perspective. i think it's so clear in my mind since i have recently had a month long trip in which my perspective(s) were constantly shifting. i found this fascinating. so often i think of how hard it is to change the way i view something and then occasionally it's easy, or at least easier than i had thought. well at this point in my life i am beginning to explore why this is and how i change my negative perspectives.
when we arrived in poland, our theatre group had not much of an idea of what was in store for us. we knew that we would be in a two week residency with studium teatralne and we would meet at the theatre from 9am-2pm monday-friday. but we had yet to meet them and find out what exactly we would do. this type of thing usually tends to make me nervous and so i had to learn to let go so i could truly be open to this experience. i tried not to think about it ahead of time, to not make up in my mind what i thought would happen or how it would go. everytime my mind went there, i would take a deep breath and release the thought with my exhale. i would take "a moment".
when i get upset, nervous or excited there is this surge of energy (hello adrenaline!) that starts to happen in my body. i have gotten to the point where i can begin to recognize this. so when we went to the theatre and the energy started to rise up - i kept track of my breath. in keeping my breathing long and controlled, i managed to slowed down my heart and mind in order to begin our workshop being open, aware and ready.
each day as we would meet the group, i would have a certain amount of anticipation because although i loved their director, piotr, he had a certain way he saw things going and it changed on quite frequently. add to that the language barrier. i spoke no polish and he spole very little. it was hard to follow him and i didn't want to hear his, "no, no, no, no....". he didn't mean it negatively, but in my little world when someone says that - it means i am doing something wrong and that is extrememly hard for me to take; i'm a perfectionist. i have come to realize that my need for perfection comes not from me thinking i'm perfect, but rather from wanting people to like me so much so that i try to make sure i don't give them a reason not to. so flash back to me working with piotr. i can not tell you how useful it was for me to take a moment, a pause, a respite when i would start to get defensive or when i would think he had nothing to offer me (another defensive reaction). i had to take a moment, take a breath, pay attention to what was physically happening in my body and try to shift my perspective.
"of course he has something to offer me! he has been doing this longer than i have and is well respected for his work."
"this is a short term engagement, it is not forever."
"you are being defensive right now and not open to this experience. when you get defensive it means that you have something to learn in this moment."
these are the types of things i would repeat to myself when i felt frustrated or like i was loosing my cool. now i'll be honest - there were two times i just told him to tell me what he wanted me to do in a defensive tone because i allowed myself to get frustrated. not proud moments for me. but i think it's interesting that both times i lost my cool were times i didn't take a moment and put myself in check.
i cannot tell you how many times i needed those moments while traveling. there wasn't tons of time to be alone. i didn't keep up my yoga/meditation practice as much as i am normally able. i was sleeping on terrible beds. i was eating a poor diet. etc.... and i could choose to focus on those things, or i could choose to stop, bring awareness to my state, to focus on my breath, to sweep away the little bit of negativity when it would crop up and focus on the positive. in doing so i stayed away from home for a little over a month, happily, loving my time with my company, my new friends and opening myself up to an experience that has forever changed me for the better.
one of the unexpected wonderful things about the trip - i have never been so appreciative of being home! i love my kitties (even when duellie wakes me up at 4:30am to snuggle), my kitchen (even if it doesn't have as much counter space as i would like), my bathroom (even with ants coming in through the walls), you get the picture..... i have a tendency to be pretty happy with things, but they aren't quite right. well let me tell you how nice it was to come home and realize that i have soooooo much and i'm right where i am suppose to be.
if by chance you are looking for a new perspective/change here are a couple of things you can try:
1) stop what you are doing and close your eyes for a few breaths.
2) concentrate on making your inhales and exhales as long as you can for at least 5 breaths.
3) bring awareness to your physical body as well as your mind. what is happening physically and can you take actions to stop or slow it down?
4) walk away from the situation, politely, calmly. take a minute or two could prevent you from saying/doing something you will be unhappy with later.
5) begin to try to replace negative thoughts with positive ones. it may seem difficult at first, but with practice it is a wonderful technique.
ex., "i can't believe they expect me to do this." changes to "they are paying me a good wage to do a job. this is part of that job." or maybe - "doing this will help me pay my bills." you don't have to change it to "this is such an awesome task and i can't wait to do it!!!!". but do change it from being something you can't stand to something that is doable. take a moment to do that much for yourself.
these things can help you through terrible traffic (but please don't close your eyes for that one :-), through an argument with a loved one, through a bad day at work or even through a bad job. they can definitely help you through a month on the road! the more momentsyou take and the more you can start to shift your perspective the more you will start to find contentment and happiness that is attainable and that you can hold onto. (a major run on sentence, i know.)
i know i've read this in class before or possibly shared it, but it rings true for me upon writing this, so i will share it again:
may today there be peace withing
may you trust that you are exactly where you are meant to be
may you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born in faith in yourself & others
may you use the gifts you have received & pass on the love that has been given to you
may you be content with yourself just the way you are
let this knowledge settle into your bones & allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise & love
it is there for each & every one of us