I recently posted my status on Facebook as taking a "Me" day ... Just before that, my young daughter had been in the hospital on critical status with a chest infection, we had canceled vacation plans, I had just finished moving my non-profit out of the office, and earlier this year, my father had passed away. (The year before, his spiritual teacher and mine, Sydney Banks, passed, and the year before that, my grandmother, Nell.)
Medical bills and paperwork were piling up, and our already small house was filled with boxes from my old, "real" office. Although there was so much to do, I have come to learn that in most adult lives, having "a lot to do" is not a temporary state. There is never a time when all things get done, or are done ... when from a worldly perspective, one has indeed accomplished "enough."
I also understand (and more and more so) that, from a global perspective, my, let's say, "suburban" problems are all good problems to have. Alia's health was jeopardized, but we had nearly instant access to highly trained doctors, x-ray and ultrasound technology, medications of every type ... our own hospital room, even!
Furthermore, our little family is well-fed, housed, intact and we live in a country where--in most cases--one can say what one thinks. Freedom, calories, opportunities, computers, heat, running water. Only gratitude is truly in order, of course.
Nonetheless, anxiety does not come because one asks for it!
And I have learned that when stress or anxiety come knocking, when everything screams to be done, it is time to stop ... and not do a thing. Have you heard the play on the old adage:
Don't just do something. Sit there ...?
I have another one: If it feels urgent, it probably isn't.
I put everything on hold, packed my child's "Hello Kitty" backpack with a tangerine, banana, cashew bar and bottle of water. Plus a notebook.
And then I ran away from home.
I took the train to San Francisco with the sole intention of enjoying myself--and being by myself.
The train ride itself was soothing, although as we pulled out of the California Avenue station, a cold feeling crept over me that once (in my 20's) had been familiar--a feeling of dread, of coming depression. As in: What does it all mean? Nothing!
For days, my mind had been engaged in planning, packing (both the office and our suitcases for vacation), then adrenalin-filled caretaking, hovering ... watching hospital monitors fretfully at 2, 3, and 4 a.m. with daughter's pulse, oxygen and respiration levels too high, too low.
Worry, future thinking, time pressures ... these sorts of thoughts can all result in this "collapsed" feeling.
And I allowed my mind to allow this. Allow the dread, the depression.
By the time we rolled through Belmont, the feeling was gone.
The City itself shone and sparkled in all its grunge, its fine foods and crystalline forward-ness. Market Street welcomed me, indifferent--those out of scale skyscrapers--as if I were an ant to be expected, tolerated, maybe stepped upon, but not maliciously.
The SF Museum of Modern Art was spacious, airy, modern (go figure) ... The rooftop garden sunny and bright, a shelter to couples in love, a mother with her child, a lone young tourist from Britain.
I had moved into the Now, the space of the accepting mind and, how did I put that day? ... I caught up with myself. I became myself, again.
This is the brilliance of the Mind--that its default setting is harmony. When thoughts become quiet, the quiet itself can become very, very deep--its depths both mysterious, unfathomable, and safe.
I got many responses to my Facebook post from Moms and others who felt it was their time for a Me day too! Go for it! I wrote in reply. But it does not need to be on the train, or in the City. It can be the hike, the walk, the yoga class, the park bench in the sunshine.
In my view, the "form" of meditation is not the essence of meditation--true meditation is simply the quieting of thought, surrendering to the Allowing Mind--and actually, this can be done in any moment, anywhere.
Indeed, just yesterday, I was feeling overwhelmed again (Alia's birthday party!) and it was evening--where could I go? To a bar? No, no ...
So, after returning a coffee maker to my aunt's, I went home; and simply accepted both the feeling of overwhelm, and my immediate situation: cleaning up from the party, getting kids ready for school, ready for a busy Monday ... Then I sat down with my husband to watch a nature program on TV.
And peace came again.
What is so beautiful to me--the greatest lesson I have ever learned--is that quiet can be counted on. Perhaps not demanded, but the sun returns when mental storm clouds part ... Mental health and well-being return.
Any catalyst will do ... A cup of tea, a good stretch, an insight, or just resting in the allowing mind. If you know the 3 Principles and Sydney Banks' work, it all makes sense. Thought creates feeling.
"I don't want this" creates the feeling of dis-ease. "I don't know if I want this, but it's obviously happening," and there is curiosity, openness ..."I love this!" and one is filled with both Love and gratitude.
One does not have to change one's thoughts, but the mere resting, the allowing of Thought--without attaching, judging, trying to get rid of ... opens the space for the deeper harmony of the Divine Mind to enter--and the Divine Mind is always grateful, always in tune, always connected.
As the mom of two still-young children, I can testify to the fact that a parents' thought flow, or resting mind, is often interrupted by the needs of children ... And if we cannot become present with our children in the moment, I believe it behooves us as parents to create the space (or simply INTEND the space) for us to find our replenishment in solitude, then. We come back to our families and children with inspiration, with good feelings and as role models for well-being.
As Gangaji has said, "Take a moment to recognize the peace that is already alive within you."
So, yes, Moms, Dads and Non-Breeders ... take a Me day! And if you cannot take a Me Day, take a Me moment. It may be that nothing "special" need happen at all ... for something very special indeed to emerge, from within.