Consciousness - a tale of two livesAug 31, 2021
One side: Living in the comfort zone of pain
Susan opens her eyes and reaches for the phone beside her bed. Although it’s set to vibrate it still occasionally wakes her in the night with the buzzing. Yawning, she rubs her eyes as she checks her emails and social media. It has been another night of bad sleep and she has long ago convinced herself that this was normal. No one she knows sleeps well.
As she heads into the shower, she feels a shot of adrenaline and anxiety from some of the content of her feed. She has learned to ignore this. It has been going on for so long; this is also normal.
"Some days she sits at the table with the kids while they eat, but mostly she is distracted, running through the mental list of all the things she must do that day. The list, after all, never ends."
With her cup of coffee in hand, she wonders if she’ll work out today, but realizes she doesn’t “have time” - there is just too much to do. On the days that she does work out, she often spends most of the time with her mind on other things anyway. She throws some food in her mouth and makes something for the kids. Some days she sits at the table with the kids while they eat, but mostly she is distracted, running through the mental list of all the things she must do that day. The list, after all, never ends.
She and her partner exchange a functional greeting, quickly discuss the schedules they each have for the day and give each other a perfunctory kiss before they separate. She remembers how in love she used to feel, but there is not time for that anymore.
Susan heads out to work, full of adrenaline, coffee, sugar, pressure and competition as she worries about how the day is going to unfold, what the traffic is going to be like and whether or not Nancy, her co-worker, is going to be a pain in the ass again today. Of course she is, she thinks as the knot in her stomach tightens. A slight headache is forming in the back of her neck, so she rubs its and keeps going.
All day, Susan runs non-stop doing what needs to be done. She has a hard time stopping. Some days she has a free moment or two. During those times she watches TV, reads, listens to music, or does the laundry. She cannot stand doing nothing and having things too quiet. When she is alone with her own thoughts it turns too negative too quickly, and Susan wants to avoid that at all costs.
Instead, she thinks about how the kids never pick up their shoes, the toilets need to be scrubbed again, the paper towels are running low, some more groceries need to be bought. To turn her mind from this, she scrolls her feed again. The tightness in her stomach is back. Remembering that she bought some lavender essential oil the last time she was at the grocery store, she decides to put it on her wrists, since its supposed to help calm nerves. She dabs it on and returns to her feed. She wishes her kids and partner would help out more. Why does she have to be the only one carrying the mental load?
She never really talks about or admits she needs help, or how truly nervous and anxious she feels. And even thought she hates it, she finds that yelling at her loved ones is the default way she interacts with them. Of course, she doesn’t mean to but there is so much to do, and she is so tired, she just reacts; it just happens. Susan feels like there are never enough hours in the day to get everything done and if she doesn’t do it – it won’t happen and then everyone will know what she already does – that’s she’s a fraud, a failure and a crap person. Her nerves are shot, and her energy is low, but she is “strong” and so she pushes through it all. This Lavender doesn’t help at all, she thinks. What a waste of money.
Her social media, which is carefully curated, presents a manipulated version of her life – where everything looks great. Deep down this causes her more anxiety and stress because it feels fake and surely someone will find out. She reaches for a sugary treat and takes a moment to savour the stolen instant.
Most evenings she ends up pouring herself a glass of wine or two as a reward for making it through the day. Some weeks she forces herself to wait until Wednesday. She prepares a meal that she wishes was healthier, but she never really learned how to cook from her mom, so at least, she tries her best and thinks at least it’s better than nothing. Besides, she has to get the kids stuff ready for tomorrow and organize doctor’s appointments, and the shopping list, and email and ….
"Susan never thinks of asking for help, doesn’t want to bother anyone and thinks it’s her job anyway, as the mom."
It all falls on her. Susan never thinks of asking for help, doesn’t want to bother anyone and thinks it’s her job anyway, as the mom. She wishes someone would help, but that never happens. Her nerves are jangled, and she just wants to sit down and relax. Her headache has settled in. Oh crap, she thinks as she remembers something she forgot, which needs to be done by tomorrow and finds herself angry that something like this always seems to come up. She steps on one of the kids toys and yells out into the house, screaming how no one ever picks up their things and someone better come and get this toy before she throws it away! Now she feels bad for yelling again. This gets her thinking about how bad she is at her life and hopes no one will find her out. If she hurries up and does what she forgot, maybe no one will ever know.
After she gets the kids to bed, another struggle, she sits down to have a drink. Some nights she has to take a sleeping pill or smoke a joint to relax, as she watches tv waiting for the mind to stop and the sleep to come.
She made it through another day.
The other side – Cultivating self-realization
Rebecca gently wakes up from a great night’s sleep, does a few minutes of intentional breathing and gratitude statements. She uses the time to connect with Source and ground herself into the new day. Then she drinks two glasses of alkaline water to get her body and mind going. She sits in her sacred nook and meditates for at least ten minutes to center and ground her energy. When she’s done, she takes a few minutes to connect with her partner and they have a playful, loving interaction and talk about their day.
The kids get up and when possible, they have breakfast together as a family. As much as possible she or her partner prepare something healthy so that everyone can start their day in a positive and healthy way. For a long time, she has been exploring food as a type of medicine and it has been working to keep away the inflammation she used to have. She is present with her kids at breakfast and checks in on their energy and attitudes. She is not only with her kids, Rebecca is present with them, using her intuition “read” them. As usual, no one has been on a device of any kind yet. If her mind wanders to the tasks of the day, she brings it back to the present moment, reminding herself, the other stuff will get done, but this time cannot be given back to her. She smiles and makes a mental picture of the moment, feeling grateful.
Once the kids are out the door, she is ready to begin work. For the first time in the morning she checks her emails and other social media. On days when she works outside the home, she has podcasts and playlists prepared which focus on self-development, positive psychology, and organization and productivity hacks because she knows she needs these as part of her regular environment. These are the tools she uses to continuously hone and develop her skill set of being conscious. She has realized that if she doesn’t make these part of her regular routine, then it’s too easy to forget to pay attention to them.
"When the A.N.T.s come (the automatic negative thoughts), she has many higher frequency thoughts to pull and replace them with."
Rebecca also takes the time to review her systems – her life purpose, her current project, her goals, roles and responsibilities and the three most important action items for the day. She has landed on three because she has learned that three is all she can reasonably accomplish on any given day. Reviewing her life purpose and the rest help her keep focused on what is really important for her. When the A.N.T.s come (the automatic negative thoughts), she has many higher frequency thoughts to pull and replace them with. Also, this daily review helps her to focus her mental energy on solving challenges that arise and help her to plan for possible scenarios that might come up.
She takes a moment and feels into the situation she is about to go into. Who are the players, what are their motives, their possible insecurities? What is her role and responsibility? What does Source or unconditional love want from her? How does she wish to show up and be in the space? What is she willing to accept? Perhaps today is a day she needs an energetic, protective bubble to keep away the negative co-worker who keeps bleeding his/her toxicity on everyone else. These moments of check in are important to understand the space, how she desires to be in it, what she can bring in terms of love, compassion and forgiveness to herself and others. This attention to the quality of interactions, Rebecca has come to realize has transformed many of her relationships for the better.
Rebecca sets about accomplishing her top three priorities for the day, which she worked out last night before listening to a mediation and falling asleep. She has trained everyone around her to respect the space she needs to accomplish these three tasks and is able to get them done. If not during the morning, then at some time later she has carve out. When she gets tired, she takes a break, stretches her shoulders and chest, opening up her heart center and takes a few grounding breaths. If possible, she takes a short walk and uses the silence to connect again to Source, seeing it all around her.
She has learned not to allow herself to get too serious about anything. She is focused, on task and success at her job and life – yet Rebecca learned long ago that taking her life too seriously has caused her all sorts of mental, physical, emotional and spiritual turmoil. It is now a trigger she is conscious of and uses it to shift her mental state. It is not about her performance, she has learned, it is about how she feels, and feeling too serious means she has lost her balance - entering a rigid and fixed state. She has less patience and compassion when she is in that space and doesn’t care for how it feels. Rebecca much prefers to stay in a state of play and curiosity.
"Rebecca learned long ago that taking her life too seriously has caused her all sorts of mental, physical, emotional and spiritual turmoil."
Before going back home she checks in once more and takes a few deep, cleansing breaths, preparing the transition to go back and be with the kids. She conjures them in her mind and smiles, hoping they had a great day. Most days, she will take a walk or dance or exercise for at least 30 minutes to shake up anything stagnant and bring more energy back. Many days, the kids join her. After, she is ready to be present with them once again and puts her phone away. She asks questions about their day and works with them to solve their homework or challenges they might be experiencing. They have their chores they are responsible for and they all work as a team to get done whatever needs doing from chores, to meal prep, to cleaning up the house.
Another aspect of her life she has been able to improve is to not take on all the tasks herself, and has let go of the need for things to be “perfect”, appreciating more that the kids and her partner have certain responsibilities of their own. After all, they all live in the house together and share the resources together, they all participate in caring for the house and themselves, even if that means a glass gets broken here and there as the little one learns to empty the dishwasher. They know that if they want their technology, they need to help out first, do their homework first, and have a team attitude.
They all prepare a healthy meal and eat dinner together and connect. There is no technology at the dinner table and each one gets to talk about their day as the others listen and ask questions. After dinner they clean up together. It’s not as if every day is as smooth as this one, but when there is conflict, each one of them is able to discuss their feelings and needs openly and they work together to find a solution. It is something that has become a priority and practise in their house and has served them well. On good days they go for a walk, watch a family movie, or play a board game. Before bed, they read a few minutes together before a cuddle.
After they are down, she reads, meditates on the day, or watches a bit of TV. At least an hour before bed, all screens are turned off, she considers her three things that need to be done tomorrow. She spends time journaling, reading, or listening to a mediation, again focused on gratitude, growth and personal development, and then goes to bed around 10 – the same time every night to make sure she gets good sleep for the next day. She drifts off thinking of all the things she is grateful for from the day.
It’s been another great day.
So, are you feeling like a Susan or a Rebecca?
If it's Susan, consider some energy work.