Day 94 (Wed/Mar 14): Eighteen days – Shifting focus, a journey within the journey

Yesterday I was having a pretty difficult time. I had caught myself in the old familiar pattern of “waiting until.” It’s not a helpful place to be. I kept casting about for something – an affirmation, a perspective, an action – something that would help me to shift my thinking. I finally found it this morning, after responding to the gentle nudge to read the next reflection in last year’s journal.

I’ve never been particularly geared toward the liturgical seasons of the church. I’m aware of when it’s Advent or Lent because it’s generally mentioned in the bulletin or from the pulpit. Yet the Christmas before last, I felt a desire to be attentive to the Twelve Days of Christmas. I suspect it was because I needed some sort of predetermined period of time to reflect on what was happening in me.

Changes... transformations... within and without

I had been through surgery the day before Thanksgiving (a thyroidectomy) and was still recovering the fullness of my voice. My body was still adjusting (increasingly happily) to the changes as we found the right dosage for my now-necessary thyroid hormone med. And there seemed to be a lot going on inside my body-mind-spirit, just like there is now.

I wanted to make a change in my attitude. Despite the continued (physical) healing, there was something unhappy, unhealthy rumbling around inside and I didn’t like it. One of the things that came to mind while I was driving was to let go my judgments of other drivers. It seemed like a small thing, but I had slipped into a pattern of being continually annoyed with other drivers. Even when people were doing something that didn’t affect me in any way, I had been criticizing how they drove. I decided, rather causally I thought,  to let go that tendency to judge.

During that brief “season,” I got better and better at letting go the tendency – even the temptation – to judge. In fact, it not only became easy, I discovered how much more enjoyable my driving time became. It didn’t matter whether it was a quick trip to the store or a longer, busier drive to work. I found my time in the car could be a time of relaxing and enjoying myself! In practicing letting go, I had begun developing a pattern of letting go of judgments (before I even had a chance to feel annoyed), of appreciating others, and of being grateful for all kinds of things I noticed or thought of while I drove. 

As I re-experienced the impact of that short journey this morning, I remembered how I had felt when I was continually criticizing others and how I felt when I let it go and began appreciating others. I noticed the familiarity of the former and recognized how much I have been criticizing myself of late. I’ve been fast becoming stuck in patterns of judgment about my own activities – or lack thereof.

I’ve decided to change that.

For the remaining eighteen days of Lent, I shall practice releasing thoughts of self-judgment or criticism when they arise. Reading my experience from a little over a year ago helps me remember that I may not be able to control the thoughts that pop into my head, but by choosing what to do with them, the nature of those thoughts can be transformed. The key is to notice the unwanted thought or behavior and release it right away. By choosing to redirect my thoughts toward something uplifting or encouraging, by forgiving myself when I wish I’d done something a little differently, and by taking time to notice and appreciate what I am doing “well,” I will open the door to a happier experience of life, no matter what is happening outwardly.

I will endeavor to post daily for the next 18 days, in order to remind myself of my successes, no matter how small. Just planning this is already lifting my spirits! 🙂

Exactly!

Noticings:

  • How readily I could feel in my body what it felt like a year ago (both the negative and the positive) and how easy it was to recognize similar feelings now.
  • How hopeful my entire body feels in this moment because of this shift in thinking. (The shift has, indeed, taken place merely by setting the intention. Isn’t that a blessing!)

Big and Small Steps:

  • Spoke words of forgiveness and release for myself and my judgments around a recent disappointing situation.
  • Danced my prayer! (If you’ve never tried moving and ‘dancing’ while you pray, you should. It’s amazing how much the body experiences in a prayer that is accompanied not only by words, but by movement.)
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