Forgive me for stepping away for a bit. I was, like most of you, outside enjoying the summer. The shifting season allows me a little more time for things like writing and dreaming.
The title and the meat of this blog post came to me last night, although it will be nearly a week later by the time I publish this. I came downstairs after concluding an awesome beginning qigong class for my students. At the beginning of this year, I never would have imagined that students could get such benefits from online classes, so I have been pleasantly surprised. That said, I miss seeing all your smiling faces in person and can’t wait for the day that it’s safe to start those classes up again, but we are where we are right now. Anyways, our class ended with a beautiful, deep, and powerful meditation and I didn’t walk downstairs so much as I floated- calmly and joyfully.
Then I remembered that it was time for the third and final presidential debate.
The choice was upon me- continue in this beautiful state, or turn on what would undoubtedly be a perversely amusing, if not irritating spectacle, in the name of “staying informed”. Kind of like when you’re driving and you can choose between focusing on the road ahead, or gawking at the accident as you drive by. In the end, my husband and I opted to cuddle up on the couch with the cat and we laughed while he read me a funny story. The choice was simple.
Why do I tell this story? I promise it’s not to start a political argument, but rather, it represented an easy choice for me which made for a nice night where I once would’ve opted for turning on the TV and shouting at it. In short, I tell this story because through my qigong practice, I’ve desired to make better choices- choices from how late I let myself stay up, the route I drive home, the music I listen to, and programming I watch- and the impact that it has on my mood is both astounding and positive.
I’ve mentioned in previous posts that the depression I suffered from didn’t just magically go away the minute I learned qigong, but rather as my mind cleared and calmed, I became better able to discern when I was telling myself negative untruths about me, as well see situations for what they were, which was usually more positive than I initially thought. As my heart stilled further, I gravitated towards things that made me feel better- upbeat music, the scenic way home that took a little longer, comedy shows over suspense- this sort of thing, all without trying.
Of course, I don’t begrudge anyone’s need to stay informed of important issues. But a great way to better manage our emotions these days is to choose carefully what is allowed to occupy space in our heads. Things that challenge us in a healthy way, that make us laugh, love, think- these are good tenants to have. Things that make us combatable, angry, scared, or stressed are not good neighbors, and should be shown the proverbial door. This is the beauty of training the Shaolin Arts, the development of mental clarity to the degree that you realize that no matter the weather or the world around us, we always get to choose how we meet it, and that to me is the essence of freedom.