Seek out each day as many as possible of the small joys.”
- Hermann Hesse, My Belief: Essays on Life and Art
Working parents are acutely aware of what that kind of scheduling is like, and if you’ve never experienced it, times your own busy schedule by 2 or 3 children and think about it for a few minutes. That’s when my calendar simply exploded. It’s stressful just sitting here remembering.
I decided when I left full-time teaching that I would never go back to that kind of rushing again. For the first year of living in Atlanta, I un-wound. I stared out the window. I had no social activities, I had no job, I had nowhere particular to go other than to the grocery store. It was an odd time, and it took me a couple of months to grieve leaving my old life and to learn to enjoy being alone during the day. I had to let go of the need to DO and decide to just BE to appreciate the gift of time and space. I started by seeking out the “small joys” in living. I began with gardening and house projects, because I love doing these things. I sewed a lot. It became a lovely and joyous time of reconnecting with myself and getting to know my new husband.
Gradually, my schedule began to fill. I started teaching Alexander Technique, and then added Piano lessons. I found many fun ways to spend my time while in Decatur for work. Gigs for piano playing and dance leading or getting together with friends occupy our weekends. And for a “semi-retired” person, I’m busier than I want to be. In fact, recently I’ve been whining about it, just a little, and trying to figure out where to cut back in order to spend more time at home with my newly retired husband.
How can we unwind from busy-ness? How can we let go of fear and physical tension? How can we choose joy? Today’s exercise is a great place to start. You can do it as often as you need to.
An etude from Primal Alexander (the work of AT teacher, Mio Morales) that is like a meditation, using a question in a repetitive cycle.
To prepare, find a place to sit quietly with your hands in your lap.
1. What sensations am I feeling at this moment?
2. Where do I feel a bit of tension/pain/tightness?
3. At this moment, where do I seem a bit easy?
Take one of your thumbs and hold it gently with your other hand.
Ask yourself this question:
- Where else do I seem a bit easy?
Ask it 4 times for each finger on one hand.
Keep track of the repetitions by holding each of your fingers – 20 questions, total.
Switch hands and begin with holding your other thumb.
Now 20 more times, each time letting the question become quieter, using less effort.