Sunday, July 14

Tools to dig out of an unexpected sinkhole

Ordinarily I get out of bed with an attitude of gratitude, thinking positive thoughts and planning a day that includes more than becoming a lump on the sofa.  And then there are the occasional days when my inner spirit and higher purpose simply do not show up!

What do I do then, when my Better Self is stuck in the toilet and sitting on my meditation pillow feels like a method of execution favored by Vlad the Impaler!

I use the practical tools that a disengaged, disinterested and disagreeable old man can use without a single ‘deep’ thought.

First, I breathe, taking full advantage of my pot belly. I inhale, watching that Pillsbury Doughboy fill up like a big red balloon, then slowly exhaling until the tire is flat. I do it five times, consciously, fully focused on each breath.  Inhaling and exhaling is so fundamental to our existence we rarely think about it; but when we become conscious of the flow of life-giving air into and out of our lungs, our sense of who we are – of life itself – is expanded dramatically.  I’m reminded, “I’m not dead yet.”

Second, in the shower I give the tap a sharp turn toward cold. Talk about a brisk wake-up call!  The cold water stimulates capillaries and glands, but I’m less about the health benefits and more about keeping my goose bumped bod under the torrent long enough as a metaphor for enduring anything that life brings my way.  Minor things, of course; my record is about ten seconds under the pulsating nuzzle.  Still, it’s a good start on shaking off the grumps.

Third, although I regard the gym in our condominium with the same relish I reserve for modern dentistry, I know that exercise is an effective anti-depressant.  And considering the side effects associated with Zoloft and Prozac – dependency, risks of nausea, vomiting, fever, sleepiness, uneven heartbeat, confusion, fainting, seizures and danger of coma – a long walk along the lake is a good way to rationalize a second rasher of breakfast bacon (while escalating my serotonin levels, which increases positive thinking and a sense of emotional well being).

Fourth, I read some inspirational passage from the Dalai Lama or Thich Nhat Hanh, or Joan Borysenko’s book, Pocketful of Miracles. I select an affirmation to remind me that each day is a gift and how I live it is the Thank You note.  It may sound simplistic, but you can choose to feel better!

If none of the above works… tomorrow is another day.

A Senior News Daily Self-help post. For the full paper go to

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