I have come to learn that when I feel overwhelmed it meansI am focused far too much on “doing” vs “being.” I am thinking about the “what ifs”, the “then whats” and the “what nexts.” Essentially I am not here.If I pause long enough and notice what’s underneath this feeling of overwhelm, there’s usually fear of not getting enough done and then missing out on something. Even deeper is the fear that I am inadequate or I am failing.Physically, I notice sensations of tightness, heaviness and rigidity. My heart does not feel open or joyful and it seems I have an extremely limited ability to have perspective. So much for all my practice and preaching of mindfulness!
If you can relate to this type of experience then I would like to share two words I have found to be incredibly helpful to ride theses waves of overwhelm: The words are "I'm Here.
"“I’m Here.” Comes from an audio book by the well known Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh. The audio book titled “The Present Moment” is a ten chapter recording of a Retreat on the Practice of Mindfulness. My first hand experience of applying these words was when I had just moved into my new digs a few months ago. It was about 10pm and I chose to listen to Thich Nhat Hanh to help create an atmosphere of ease while I assembled two dressers - a task I find tedious and draining at the best of times.
I began listening to Thich Nhat Hanh's soft voice - repeating after him “I’m here” and noticing my breathing. Then one by one, I put each of the hollow metal nuts in their holes and hoped they stayed in place while I aligned their matching screws…then I'd say it again “I’m here.” I found the little wooden plugs and put them in their holes too - some fit easier than others, some too deep. “I’m here, I’m here.” Now where did that Allen key go?“I’m here, " I continued to follow Thich Nhat Hanh's guidance, noticing my breathing again and again. I lost track of time and soon enough the dressers were complete.
Four hours had passed! It was late and I was tired but I was calm. I was more than calm - I felt genuinely peaceful. I didn't remember any other wisdom from Thich Nhat Hanh's recording that evening and it didn’t matter. I realized "I'm here" was (and is) always enough.
Thank you Thich Nhat Hanh!
© Alexia Georgousis Feb 2018
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