Thursday, December 23, 2010

Practice makes permanent

That is really true. Practice does make permanent. All this hollering I have done about practicing your mindfulness exercises, I have a case in point as to why it is so important to have it down before you need it.

Now please understand, I am not this good all the time. In fact when it comes to the four of my children making noise...well I am pretty impatient and snappy. I rank up there pretty high, so when I do have a success, I am going to celebrate it, big time!

Picture the scene, all four of my lovely children want to play with play doh. Home-made play doh at that. This is pretty cool for them, they realized they don't have to buy the stuff at the store, that they can use what is in our kitchen. I am not sure what this has done for me in the long run, I mean, no more telling them, "Sorry, kids, I don't have any play doh." busted. Anyways, so they are playing away, did I mention that all four were in the kitchen playing? huh, together. That gets pretty loud when you have an 11-yr old, 9-yr old, 6-yr old and a 4-yr old. Believe it or not, they were not fighting. They played this way for about a half hour, then it was time for me to make dinner. I was making an easy casserole. Throw a few ingredients together and poof! Dinner is served. Prep time would take me 15 minutes tops. The problem? I had to prepare dinner in the kitchen!

Sitting in the living room while they played, loudly, was one thing. But being in the same room with them would  be something entirely different. I decided a little exposure therapy is exactly what I needed. Now, please understand in most circumstances I would have cleared out the kitchen and prepared food, alone. Or, I would have "ssh'd" the heck out of them. Because chaotic noise is the surest way to get me to flip out. I don't know what the deal is, I just cannot seem to cope with it. It drives me insane.



OK, so I choose to use the mindfulness skill where you do everything mindfully. It works this way, everything you do experience every moment of it, every aspect. How does the water feel on my hands, the soap? When I am stirring the ingredients do I feel resistance, smooth strokes? What is the consistency of the ingredients, do I feel the heat from the oven, is my spoon soft, hard, smooth, rough etc? You get the point. I was going to tolerate the noise. Now, since I have spent a lot of time on my body sensations, I know what to look for when I am losing the mindfulness battle, and every time I felt the temperature in my head go up, I drew my attention back to why I wanted to tolerate it. I reminded myself that it was beautiful chaos, that my children won't be little forever.

During my 15 minutes, I also messed up the simplest of ingredients. Probably because of the immense energy it was taking to not totally flip out from the noise and scream, "SHUT UP!" at the top of my lungs. Even during finding out that I had messed it up, I had to problem solve and correct it, and I chose to stick with the exposure therapy. Ultimately I had to remind myself that I wanted to have a positive experience to write about too, so through reminding myself of the why's about my situation and using my mindfulness skill, I made it through. I never asked the kids to quiet down, and I feel very good about myself.

Do I have pleasant memories of it? No, I don't recall anything that they may have said or did during it, but I made it through and I didn't snap, yell, or flip out. Maybe next time I can actually enjoy their company while I cook. One step at a time, right folks?

Once again, I hate to sound like a broken record, but the mindfulness skills will not be able to be used this way if they are not practiced over and over. I am going to celebrate with my family over this success. For more mindfulness options please visit forum.

MJ