That’s right, I’ve decided it’s time to settle. And I’m so happy. That word has such negative connotations, settling – like it means accepting less. And for me, it does mean settling for less, but in a good way! In fact, at the risk of being dramatic, it’s changing my life, this settling. This year has been the most stressful of my life with a major debilitating illness, a 400 mile move with children who struggled with it, financial stress, and then the unexpected death of my mother just two days after she left our house at Christmas. It has been awful. Plus I work, I have acupuncture practices in two different states, and run I a home, am raising two boys and two young energetic big dogs, I was stressed! So much so that it started to impact my parenting, and that’s always where I draw my line. Or maybe where it’s so obvious how badly I’ve been treating myself that I finally see it. A few weeks of watching my stress and short temper effect my kids and I thought something has to change!! But what? I can’t just never clean my house or do laundry or exercise the dogs or help the boys with their homework or go to work or………you know how it is, the list goes on. So what did I do? I read the word “settle” somewhere, in passing, and it was like a lightening bolt. That’s It! I thought. I needed to teach my mind to settle. Like muddy water in a pond all churned up my mind was chaos. My reality is busy. My mind was chaos. So that even on a rare day where I had a little free time, I still felt totally frenetic and swamped, even if I wasn’t. Because my mind was always in overdrive. I didn’t know how to settle down. How to let my mind settle, let the pool of water settle, let all the junk flying around in the water settle, let my breathing settle. Settle. For some reason this word has helped me enormously. I have meditated on and off for 20 years, but even that sometimes feels like an effort, “Clear the mind” – but sometimes I can’t. But settle, that I could do. I started sitting for 20 minutes in the morning and 20 in the afternoon. This is what’s recommended in Transcendental Meditation, about which I know nothing, but I decided that sounded reasonable. Long enough to make a difference but not a ridiculous thing to ask a busy working mother, like an hour morning and night. 20 minutes I could do. And I have. And the results were instant. I mean instant. No struggling to get meditation “right”, no wondering if my mind was clear enough, my inner voice quiet enough or positive enough. I had no agenda. I just let my mind settle. Tried to empty my mind, but if thoughts wandered in and out, that was fine too, I’d just ask them to be quiet, like patrons joining a violin concert a few minutes late. Just keep your voices down little thoughts and you can stay too.
Whatever it was about that word, it has shifted me. I instantly, that first night, slept through the night for the first time in months. And this week when I’ve woken and instantly gone into my default mode these days – panic – I just tell myself kindly to settle. And next thing I know I’ve gone back to sleep (this is a major development for an insomniac). And I feel as if I had so much more time in my day. That’s the strangest part. I don’t. But I felt all this room to get through my day more peacefully rather than rushing and short tempered and always feeling like I didn’t have enough time. My life on the outside didn’t get less hectic, but my life on the inside did, and so there was all this quiet space that hadn’t been there before and it changed everything about my day. So there it is. Really I am settling for less. Less stress, less chaos, less pressure inflicted on myself by myself, less worry. I see my mind as a cloudy pool of muddy water and I let the silt settle to the bottom, let my mind be clear and wow, it’s beautiful when that happens. I was instantly kinder, more patient with my children, and happier. Just happier, which is always a good thing. So there it is. It’s time to settle. Nothing wrong with settling for less 🙂