I knew I should have taken my car in sooner. It was pulling to the right, but I ignored that. I was too busy to get it realigned, and, besides, who wants to shell out money just to have the wheels straightened out? But because I procrastinated, those wheels wore down prematurely, and I had to pay a bundle for four new tires.
I knew I should have kept my cool. I was sick and tired of being in the kitchen, but I needed just a little longer to help finish up a Valentine’s Day treat. Besides, I’d done this kind of project a hundred times before. Shouldn’t I be able to finish this time as well? But it was all too much, and I snapped. It wasn’t pretty, and I wasn’t nice. And as soon as I got "excused" from the kitchen, I felt bad, and I later had to apologize to my family.
"Just as your car runs more smoothly and requires less energy to go faster and farther when the wheels are in perfect alignment, you perform better when your thoughts, feelings, emotions, goals, and values are in balance." ~Brian Tracy
Realignment. Some cultures call it “getting centered.” I call it saying a prayer, reading the scriptures, going on a walk, taking a salt bath, or, if I’m really lucky, taking a nap. Most of us know when our emotional treads our getting worn down, but we often try to push ahead regardless, which is its own kind of reckless behavior. By neglecting to fix ourselves, we can damage relationships unwittingly, but, unlike children, we adults don’t always have the option to stop for a nap or timeout. So, what can we do to avoid “collisions” in our lives?
We can breathe. Just breathe. I’m not kidding.
Several months ago I realized I wasn’t using my lungs properly. In fact, I was in such bad respiratory shape that when I was not taking very shallow breaths, I was actually holding my breath altogether! Since then, I’ve had to consciously work on what should come naturally. So, doing yoga (heretofore the exercise of weirdoes moving in slow motion while burning incense and chanting) has become a lifesaver. In fact, it’s now an almost essential part of my days, mostly because it’s re-teaching me what I once came into this world already knowing how to do: breathe.
Of course, we can’t do yoga all day long any more than we can avoid stresses entirely. However, as Benjamin Franklin said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Which is why my tires could have lasted much longer had I taken time to regularly align and balance them. Similarly, my work in the kitchen, though exigent and needful, would have been, in the long run, more helpful and pleasant for everyone if I’d simply had the good sense to take a short break.
We’ve all heard we should put on our own proverbial oxygen masks before trying to help others through crises. In the same vein, sometimes in order to "realign" ourselves, quickly resetting our thoughts, feelings, and expectations, all we have time for is just one deep breath.