It certainly is a great time of the year. Here in New York, all of us will most likely have some plans for the months of June, July, and August. We'll probably start with a graduation or two, and perhaps someone we know is soon to be married. And of course, we're planning on taking some vacation time over the summer.
With all that we have on our plates, it's a wonder that the phrase "crazy, hazy, lazy days of summer" ever was thought of - and there's a song about just that topic! It surely seems as though we will not be lazy, but there's a very good chance that we will be crazy.
What are Some of our Worries?
The first and most obvious is, of course, money. We will be writing gift checks a few times in these lazy weeks. We will also be funding our vacations. For some, we may be taking time off with no pay. And of course, we've got to plan for our children's college in the fall.
Secondly, for many of us, vacationing means leaving behind our daily routine. And although that's the very point of a vacation, we know that there will be a pile of mail waiting for us, with many of the envelopes containing bills. As we become more high-tech, we'll also have a frightening-looking Inbox - and we'll have to deal with that as well.
For many of us, the challenge that will be most difficult will be the one that should be the most joyous - spending time with family members. We'll see people that we don't see very often; some we miss with all our hearts, others, whether we admit it outwardly or not, are readily forgotten. Some irritate us, some bore us, and some hurt our feelings.
It looks like we have a lot to handle. That's where stress management comes in.
Approach With Awareness
As you prepare for that wedding, graduation, or block party, think about how you are feeling. Are you dreading going? Are you saying things to yourself like, "Oh, no, not again!" Well, regardless of who else might be there, you are not setting yourself up for a very good time. Are you saying, "That pest of an aunt better get off my case this year"? Well, she hasn't even shown up yet and you are already annoyed with her!
Know what you are thinking and how you are feeling. If those thoughts and feelings are not in your best interest, get rid of them!
The Experts section here has articles on awareness and mindfulness -
. Practice the techniques in there and get yourself off to a good start.
Arrive with Anticipation
Much of our stress comes from our perceptions, reactions, and fears. We allow other people to control and manipulate who we really are. A relative makes a short off-hand remark, and we are in a bad mood for the rest of the day. Meanwhile, the source of the remark is off having a terrific time. That's probably more control than you would want anyone to have over you.
Sure, this is easy to write, but, of course, it's not quite as easy to actually do. Read the
article again and get yourself into the proper state of mind and comfortable state of body.
Okay, are on your way. You will have a good time, you will laugh and eat and enjoy. What exactly do you do about those people?
Try a different approach. Remember a very old four-letter word. Very short and concise. But the concepts behind it are broad and enormously healing.
The word is Love. That's it. Go to your party with love in your heart. It's there, buried under the resentment, simply waiting for you to fully acknowledge it. It's hard to do that because of those people who are offending you. Well, what about those who are not? Why is it so easy to maintain focus on the negative events and people in our lives and have difficulty recalling those moments of friendship, laughter, caring, and love?
Think for a minute.
How would you conduct yourself if you were forced to make people love you? Okay, conduct yourself that way, even though they don't.
How would you conduct yourself if you were forced to love someone? Okay, conduct yourself that way, even though you don't.
At first, this is a false presentation and we are uncomfortable about doing it. But observe what happens - as you conduct yourself in a more loving way, people tend to respond to you differently. Their own attitudes tend to soften. Their sharpness, their need to be authoritative, their smugness, seems to have no place within the framework that you have created. They actually begin to look ridiculous! If you arrive with a chip on your shoulder, if you arrive with trepidation and the sense that you'll have a terrible time, that's the message that you'll unconsciously send outward. But if you arrive with a sense of love and compassion, and, of course, laughter, that is the message that you'll send.
What was once false, by its very act, creates truth.
If it is difficult for you to do this, try this: before you leave, sit and breathe quietly for about 5 minutes. Allow your breaths to become longer and longer, relaxing the physical body. As the physical body becomes more relaxed, notice the emotions and feelings that you are experiencing. Do not judge them or try to push them away. Merely acknowledge them and continue with your practice.
After about 5 minutes, bring into your awareness a person who you deeply love. Focus on that person, and notice how your emotions begin to change. You begin to feel that love in your heart and body, even though that person is not there with you.
Breathe with this awareness for about another 5 minutes. Get up, and go to the party in that mental and emotional state - carrying the love with you.
Participate with Passion
Once you arrive, you have an inner strength that developed from your short practice. You have a calmness and a serenity. These feelings are nurturing to the body and mind, and the body and mind will not want to release them. Certainly not for anything as unhealthy as someone's momentary offhand remark!
So enjoy! Have fun and make others and yourself laugh! Play volleyball and do the Electric Slide. You are your own best friend.
So... roll out those lazy, crazy, hazy...
You get it.
Be well and happy.
Breathe and smile...