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Time-Out Mind!

Please remember to take a moment and remember our fallen friends and family on this sad day.

I don’t consider my days stressful. I’m a stay-at-home mom of a two year old. I know it could be a heck of a lot worse if I also had to balance an out of the house job like many others, so I rarely complain of it. But that doesn’t stop the stress and every day crap from building up and all in out putting me in a funk of a bad, grouchy mood. Part of life, I suppose, but either way, sometimes we just need to give our mind a “time-out”.

I had been doing this “time-out” for sometime before I even realized I was doing anything (glorious part of life, no? you take care of yourself without even realizing it). I had been meditating—NO STOP! DON”T CLICK AWAY!—for months and didn’t know it. I know there’s some skeptics when it comes to mediation, I was one of them (hence my shouting not to leave), but let me ask you this: Have you ever just wanted to walk away to a quiet room for just five minutes? Or more? Maybe the stress was getting too high, or the kid was being so gosh darn loud or the husband had the TV blaring. No? It’s okay if you leave then, I don’t think I have anything here for you.

But if you said, yes, then get your finger off that mouse for a moment longer and let me tell you what I do and how much better it makes me feel.

1. I don’t think of it as meditation (sure if someone asks, then that’s the word I use cause saying I’m taking my mind for a vacation sounds a little off). But the word “meditation” itself is a big word and seems intimidating. Try vacation or giving your mind a time-out or break.

2. I realize that I need a moment to just get away, the crap’s getting too deep for me to move around in.

From here, you just need to get yourself comfortable. Obviously, a dark and quiet room would be ideal, but not always practical. (See above where I mentioned the 2year old). If you can write while the TV’s going, then you can do these steps:

3. Get physically comfortable. For me this can be curled in a ball under a blanket on the couch or sprawled across the floor. Depends on my mood.

4. Start tuning out all that background noise: TV, kid playing and singing/shouting with the guitar, toys that sing and light up, ect…. Just close your eyes. If you’re thinking, hey! you’re a bad mom for not watching your kid! Or if you’re thinking, I’m a bad mom for nearly falling asleep when I should be watching the kid! Well then let me ask you this: Is this any different from you cooking in the kitchen while your kid is in his bedroom playing? No, I don’t think so either.

There’s this stage/level that your body passes through RIGHT BEFORE you fall asleep. What happens is your brain cuts off activity to your body so you don’t get out of bed and do whatever it is you’re dreaming about. (I assume sleep-walkers have a little glitch with this feature, so if you’re a sleep-walker, this might not work so well for you). That level is the money spot you want to get in and hover in. This is how I get there:

Remember #4? Get all the background noises tuned out. Sometimes it’s as simple as closing my eyes and I’m there. Other times it’s harder. You need to give your mind something to focus on. Some opt for breathing, but then I start thinking about breathing and that screws my physical comfort up cause I then start thinking about my arms and legs and all my involuntary actions (swallowing, blinking, ect) and I’m not physically comfortable anymore.

I’ve found *the best* way to tune out is to think about my wip. Specifically, my characters and how they walk, stand, clothes they wear, actions they do. Think of your heroine involved in tasks, such as her work. No need to think of her voice, that’s too much thinking, just watch her. See if you can make her play like a silent movie in your mind. Or do this with your hero. Before you know it, the living room noises will have backed away and you’re totally lost in your heroine in her house.

You can see her yellow kitchen walls, the red knobs on her cabinets, how her muscles move as she mixes up a cake. You watch how her hair falls in her eyes and see that batter splash on her t-shirt. You can see the chocolate batter streaming off her spoon and into the cupcake pan and see the cracked open egg-shells on the counter.

Stay with one scene and one image and really investigate. Does she open a cabinet? Try to peak in there and see what you can find. Do you see spices? or maybe bowls? A bottle of rum, perhaps? 

If you can lose yourself in an image, then congratulations, you’ve just reached this level where your mind cuts off movement to your body and you’ve just “meditated”, in my opinion. Not as hard as you thought, no? Sometimes I can hold that image for twenty-thirty minutes. Sometimes they only last for five, but I *always* feel a heck of a lot better and refreshed when I’m done. It’s okay if you fall asleep. You’re right there on the verge of dream land, it’ll happen sometimes. Set you an alarm if you’ve got to be somewhere just in case.

And, if you haven’t figured it out, it also serves as double-duty. Not only are you calming yourself down, but you have a chance to learn more about your characters. Don’t write? No big deal. Think of your favorite heroine and put her in a place like I mentioned above. It’ll work the same.


One Response

  1. Keri.

    You are so right. A short time out from everyday stress is so essential to our well being. All it takes is five minutes to knock stress out off it’s foundation. Just walking away, focusing on the beautiful world around you and breathing deep, helps.

    I have a short, one minute commute from work. I have heard from many they love their long drive. They unwind before they walk in the door to greet their families. They wouldn’t give that time up.

    Good reminder for us all.

    Autumn Jordon

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