Monday, November 8, 2010

Daily Ritual as a Return to Sanity

Princess Lilly, Cat of Many Thumbs

Thanks to DBT, which I wrote about on Friday (see post right before this one), and specifically, thanks to becoming ever more aware of my thoughts, internal voices, and emotions, Marcy and I figured out a Very Big Thing last week, and I wanted to share this usual, I hope it helps someone else struggling with these issues.

For two weeks in a row, while I was teaching YogaDance, Marcy met a mutual friend for a beer and some chatting.  Marcy is a social butterfly and she needs more of this type of interaction than me.  (Cough...)

For two weeks in a row, I then went to pick her up and immediately felt pissed off.  This past Tuesday, the consequences were not bad (unlike two Tuesdays ago).  I took some time to sit by myself and noticed what was happening -- that I was reacting out of old stories and that that was not necessary.  So we talked that through and I felt pretty darn proud of myself.

The next morning, Marcy could tell that it wasn't done.  That even though I had avoided allowing my emotions to overcome me, there was more to it that needed to be uncovered.

Again, when she brought this up and we started to talk, I could feel my emotions ready to POP! but I watched them and made the conscious choice not to allow that.  This is a painful thing, for sure, but this is working hard to heal in action.

Seeing an old behavior trying to assert itself and saying No, Thank you.

We kept talking and dissecting.  I kept paying attention to those mounting emotions to which I was not going to give in.

I kept feeling uncomfortable.  But we stayed with it.

Acceptance and Change.  Change and Acceptance.

Accepting that I was feeling badly and accepting that there was a reason for it, but seeing that the reason was old and so the behaviors have to change.

This pain paid off because I was awarded with a true light bulb moment of understanding and clarity.

Transitions.  Transitions between one part of my day and another or transitions between being alone and then being with Marcy...Transitions are when I feel very vulnerable, when I am frightened that things will not go as planned, when I fear that things will not meet expectations and this failure will then be met with anger.

Again, this concept of transitions being dangerous comes from long ago and my body was still carrying it around and my current day reactions come from that.

I realized that as I walked into the restaurant where I was to meet Marcy that I felt afraid and then that led to feeling angry.  (To be clear: that fear and anger have/had nothing to do with Marcy whatsoever. It comes from long, long ago.)

I cannot emphasize how BIG this felt.  This understanding felt like a light going on in a very, very dark and dank room.

I am still in awe of the process of DBT and how it led to this.  (And I am only a few chapters into that workbook! A workbook with which I am no way affiliated!! HA!)

Now to deal with this, we know to utilize another DBT method -- distraction which then can lead to soothing which then can lead to truer encounters that are based in the present.

So we've decided that the missing element is Ritual.  In modern life, there is too little ritual.

There is nothing to formally mark the ends and the beginnings.  Humans are wired for ritual.  As Marcy said to me, it is the mutability of things that frightens me and so ritual creates something that is static and stable.  Something to look forward to.

We have started to create new Rituals and bring back some old ones.

Ritual is, of course, also about mindfulness in that it is about action imbued with intention.

For instance, we always take a hot salt or bubble bath before bedtime, but for a while now, we have not lit candles while doing so.  That simple act turns a bath into an ablution.

And we are creating rituals for our coming together times, for when Marcy comes home from work.  It is too easy to just rush into errands or making dinner or watching a little something.

What rituals help to keep you healthy and happy? Do you need to institute more ritual or bring back rituals that you've lost?  As we enter this season of holidays, perhaps this is a perfect time to think about this.


Brandi Reynolds said...

this is an amazing post. I realized as I read it that transitions are crunky times for me too...and have started thinking of ways I can bring ritual to them to ease through them.

thank you for talking about this.

Linda-Sama said...

sounds like DBT is firmly grounded in mindfulness training. which is the heart of my yoga teaching: watching what comes up, no attachment-no aversion.

liberation is contained in this fathom-long body, as Buddha taught...;)

Emma said...

Congratulations! That really does sound very big!

I have trouble with a lot of kinds of transitions, too, actually. Even when I'm transitioning from something I don't like to something I DO can be difficult for me. Interesting stuff to ponder, along with the idea of everyday rituals...

andiesalad said...

Love your post as always. But I have got to say what really stands out to me is the adorable picture of Lilly. Makes me want to grab her and kiss and squeeze her!