My recent post about saving energy was a popular one (check it out here). Clearly it connected with you guys, so I thought I’d expand more on what it looks like on a daily basis.
To summarize, I was perpetually exhausted in a way rest could not cure, which was really feeding a lot of my mental and emotional energy to my anxiety monster.
The Frozen method (let it go) and the Ram Dass method (be here now) do not work for me because I’ve got a monkey mind. After months, even years, of trying, I realized Star Trek had all the answers for me. As usual.
Letting go and being here now don’t give me anything to hold on to or to think about, and I love analyzing things. The key here is to work with your mind, not against it.
So I think of a shuttle bay on the U.S.S. Enterprise (1701-D if you’re wondering). When the door is open, my energy goes right into the infinite vacuum of space (aka anxiety).
When fear, anger, irritation or a similar emotion rise up into my chest, when I get warm and my heart beats a little more quickly, I tell myself: Close the door. Then I can pull out my mental tricorder, examine my feelings and stop myself from wasting energy on anxiety.
I do imagine a shuttle bay and those doors and a tricorder, by the way. It’s very relaxing, like going home. My mind immediately says, “Oh, this is Star Trek. I like Star Trek.” My amygdala calms down and my prefrontal cortex takes over.
For new or complicated emotions and situations, I write what my guru Brené Brown calls a “shitty first draft.” You write out what you’re feeling without judging yourself for it. Then you can look at it and see what’s valid and what’s not. (I recommend her book Rising Strong.)
Other times, I can immediately recognize whatever I’m mad about is no big deal (i.e. someone cutting me off in traffic) and let that go. Or I realize I’m ruminating on a subject I’ve thoroughly been through, and I stop before it gets further out of hand. I am realizing now how much energy I was wasting on stupid crap like traffic and bad memories. I know I’m far from alone — it’s no wonder so many of us feel exhausted all the time!
I’ve done this exercise a bunch of times in recent days, and I feel much better than usual. Combined with creating the environment I need, closing the door is the practice that’s making me more mindful. This mindfulness is carrying over into my eating habits, my post-work resting habits and my general use of time. I feel like I actually have my shit together.