By Cheryl Hansen
It’s easy to get overwhelmed—whether it’s responding to that urgent email in less than six minutes, remembering to put sunscreen on both of my kids BEFORE camp, figuring out if a kale Caesar is actually a good choice, or spending a solid 17 minutes calculating if I have time to take a walk or a yoga class or a nap. Sometimes I forget to just breathe.
One of my best friends and I would have marathon phone conversations in which one of us was stressing about a new job, old boyfriend, tough decision or big change. My advice to her was almost always the same: get quiet with yourself and just breathe. You’ll know exactly what to do next. Of course, I rarely took my own advice. But when I did, it worked.
I think that was my version of meditation—but I didn’t call it that at the time. In fact, I remember nearly losing my mind when I accidentally took a meditation class. It seemed like such a waste of time—sitting so still and listening to a fountain while I could’ve been clipping my toenails or feeding my cat. At least two dozen thoughts disguised as ping-pong balls bounced around in my head for 30 grueling minutes. I didn’t go back.
Lately, I’ve been experimenting with this age-old practice. I listen to guided meditations—some just three minutes, some closer to 20 (I’m not ready for 30 yet). I’m also reading “Eat, Pray, Love” (again) and came across some advice Liz Gilbert received in Bali. Sit in silence, close your eyes and smile. That’s it. No mantra. No voice telling me what to visualize. Just smiling. The idea made me giddy.
And still, I’ve yet to try it. How funny that something as simple as sitting quietly and smiling is somehow intimidating. I do fear where my thoughts might take me, but I suspect that’s the whole point.
So tomorrow morning, I’m going to make my way to somewhere great—maybe Horsetooth Falls, maybe my super-cool couch that reclines—and just stop, sit, smile and breathe.
Pretty sure I’ll know exactly what to do next.