Morning is when my gremlins thrive…

You know what a gremlin is, right? Those adorable furry creatures with huge eyes and sweet little voices that speak an indiscernible language. Tiny “Ewok one-offs” that are supposed to avoid bright lights and water and above all, no matter how much they beg, aren’t supposed to be fed after midnight. Well, apparently, mine like to eat in the middle of the night because, by the time I open my eyes first thing in the a.m., those sweet little creatures have become their evil, slimy alter egos, and their voices have turned dark; hissing accusations before my feet even hit the floor.

“Remember that text you sent after you downed that Pinot Noir?

“How many pieces of pizza did you have last night?”

“Are you going to start a juice fast today or are you just gonna let yourself get to 400lbs?”

“Guess what you forgot to do at work yesterday?”

The gremlins usually have their way with my psyche until I am at least two minutes into my morning shower. I argue with them out loud (I live alone, so this only seems crazy to my cats.) sometimes even shouting, “SHUT UP!” I try centering myself by saying “Stephanie, what are you doing at this moment?” and answering. I list three things that I’m thankful for at that moment. I sing, loudly. Anything to get those little monsters to just shut up for five minutes.

So, it’s safe to say that I feel defeated and exhausted before I even truly start the day.

In my time at ARC, I’ve become a pro of sorts in Automatic Negative Thoughts (ANTs) I know their origin story and the most effective ways to shut them down. I practice the techniques regularly, and it’s helped. This week I tried another approach, and I was able to start my day in a much better headspace. Even when my morning handed me little inconveniences (I like to refer to them as “papercuts”) I was actually able to chuckle about them instead of throwing whatever I am holding in my hand at that moment across the room (Which I’ve actually done. Again, thank God I live alone.) The energy carried over into work where I felt refreshed and focused. I felt more even keel, without the constant sense of urgency, either real or imagined, that I am an expert at creating. So far, *knocking on wood* this week has been pretty stellar. If you add the fact that I have been house/dog sitting for some friends so I’ve been physically and mentally scattered since Saturday, this new attitude seems downright miraculous. So, you ask, what changed?

I’ve been meditating.

I’m not sitting “crisscross-applesauce” on a mat with incense burning while I chant affirmations, although one day that might happen. I’ve just utilized a free app that I installed on my phone and made a conscientious effort to spend at least five minutes each morning meditating. Given that the snooze on my alarm lasts nine minutes, I’m already at least four minutes ahead of the game. Now, this new practice has not been without its challenges. The dogs I am cohabitating with this week like to bark at anything that dares enter their line of sight, and my bladder doesn’t care if I’m trying to FRIGGIN MEDITATE, but it’s been easier than I thought to incorporate into my routine. I pick a guided meditation, I hit play and I plop myself back down onto the bed while I listen to the smooth voice of the instructor. Suddenly, there’s silence from the gremlins and peace in the valley.

I know that there is legitimate science to back up why this is practice is beneficial for my mental and emotional wellbeing. I also know that the longer that I do it, the easier it will become and the better I will feel, but I also know that I’m an instant gratification sort of person. I’ll try something for three days and if I am not utterly transformed, I’ll throw my hands up and quit. I can’t say that I am utterly transformed. People aren’t saying that I’m emanating some sort of divine inner glow. I don’t feel like I’m smiling more at strangers, and if you put me behind the wheel of a vehicle and in the thick of Central Phoenix traffic in the middle of the day, I WILL shout things that would make a pirate blush, but I do feel better. I felt better after that first day. I feel more centered. I feel like the gremlins are dying off.

I know that meditation isn’t for everyone, and I would have told you even a year ago that it’s not for me. I have ADHD so the idea of sitting still AND clearing my mind for a minimum of 20 minutes is straight torture. Every time I’ve attempted meditation in the past, I’ve come away more frustrated than calm, but I knew that if I really wanted to feel better, I needed to stop making excuses for why things weren’t going to work and just do it. Starting with five or six-minute meditations, and switching them up each day has been key. The time flies by, and since I do it first thing in the morning, my brain is still pliable, and my breathing is pretty relaxed. As I fill my lungs with the bright light of gratitude and exhale peace, I feel like I’m giving myself a little gift and I’m understanding that every day is too important to begin by fighting a legion of gremlins.

The human brain is amazing, and it’s number one goal is to protect us, but sometimes the programming gets buggy. When that happens, the very things that were designed to keep us alive and out of danger end up creating issues in our minds and body which play out in how we act and react to things. The good news is that you can fix the bugs, and in doing so affect every aspect of your being, but you have to be willing to be consistent, do the work, and lose the excuses. It’s been said so many times that it sounds cliché, but taking care of yourself makes it that much easier to take care of everything and everyone else. Five minutes for an entire day of feeling better is a pretty great tradeoff. Namaste.

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