This past weekend my husband and I were in the field harvesting lavender, when we heard a group of birds being very loud. We realized that several blue jays were squawking at and dive-bombing our cat. The cat, it turns out, had one of the blue jays in her mouth. The cat carried the blue jay to an oak tree where she let it down to do what cats do – play with their victims mercilessly. I watched in horror and begged my husband to intervene, when we noticed something very interesting happen. The injured blue jay hobbled to another side of the tree, the cat had temporarily lost him. This is when the other blue jays came to his rescue. We watched as three blue jays took turns dive-bombing the cat, fly right up next to her and lure her away from the tree. For several minutes these birds strategically and artfully distracted the cat, and her victim escaped. Minutes later the birds’ distraction tactics ended, and the injured bird was nowhere to be found. Birds: 1 Cat: 0. I’ve dealt with anxiety for years. I’ve tried numerous tools and techniques for relief from the grip of those intense moments, and the thing I find most affective in the midst of anxiety is the same tactic the birds used that day, the art of distraction. The mind is incredibly powerful, and when it fixates on something the focus can be intense, all-consuming even. This can be a great thing if you’re working on a project or playing a game. If the thing your mind is focused on causes you distress, however, the fixation can be a major problem. The hack for this is simply interruption. Stealing fragments of focus bit by bit until the attachment is broken, and the thing you were once fixated on passes without even realizing it. The world is at a very interesting place right now. No matter how you feel about what’s going on in our communities, the feelings are likely very intense. Personally, in the past week I think I’ve felt every emotion a person can feel. It’s worth noting that just because a situation is difficult, it does not mean its time for a distraction. The art of distraction is not to be confused with avoidance. When something requires your attention that feels uncomfortable, that is often an invitation to push your comfort zones, to reach for the next level of yourself, and show up for what is being asked of you (remember the transformation of the butterfly I talked about a few weeks ago?). Over the past couple weeks we have all been asked to evaluate ourselves, to question what we know to be true, and to be willing to show up a little differently. This is the uncomfortable work of growth, and of evolution. It is difficult, but it is necessary. I encourage you to show up for this work, and to push through the discomfort of it so we may all benefit and grow together. That said, in the moments when the inner work, or the outer world becomes so intense that we feel physically drained and unwell; when we don’t ‘feel right’ in our bodies, when the intensity reaches a level of anxiety – that is your body’s cue that it needs a break. This is the time for a pause from the work and the world for self-care. This is when the art of distraction is a saving grace. Those moments are the time for a phone call with a loved one to simply talk about the weather, or to watch a funny movie. This is the time for a long bath, or playing a game with your kids. This is a the time to connect with and honor your body, to let your mind focus on something light and joyful, to smile, to laugh, to breathe, to rest. It is only after we nourish ourselves in this way that we are able to come back to center, and with a full heart and clear mind return to the work and the world. This allows us show up more fully, whole and healthy to the causes that so need our attention, our efforts, and our willingness to be uncomfortable for the sake of leveling up.
May you find peace in your heart and mind, and share it with the world.
With love and gratitude,
PS - Looking for some self-care ideas to help relieve stress and anxiety? I've got you covered! Check out the Self-Care Practices guidebook in the FREEBIES section of my website. If you're not already a member, you'll be prompted to create a log-in, and then you'll have instant access. Enjoy and be well!