In my household, some highlights of crisp fall days are football and freshly harvested produce. They complement each other well…fresh apples, especially in desserts, and soups made from locally grown vegetables offer comfort when the playing and/or watching of games has been exhausting.
With football and fall produce on the brain these days, these two things became a catalyst for problem-solving when I was having “a moment” recently.
You probably know what I mean by “a moment”…those times when your mind and body have hit maximum capacity for the day, yet there are still many hours to go, and of course, these hours require you to be “ON”—mentally and emotionally available for others.
On this particular occasion of feeling completely tapped out, it was approaching dinner-prep time. Cooking is not my strong suit, so this is hardly a stress-free time of day for me.
So, per my evening routine, even though I was devoid of energy I dutifully entered the kitchen and started pulling out ingredients. I fought my mind and body, trying to suppress and ignore my true feeling state, which by now had now evolved from exhaustion to the ever-unhelpful state of anxiety.
My mind became hyper-active, replaying thoughts about not having the bandwidth necessary to adequately tackle “everything.” This cycling of stressful thinking created a new sensation in the body—overwhelm. It showed up as a faster heart rate, jittery tingles in my limbs, and tightness in my chest. What a great recipe for creating a meal to be delivered with love—HA!
Ordinarily, I would have labored on with the task at hand, convincing myself that my responsibility to feed hungry loved ones ASAP was paramount, regardless of what was going on with me. This time, however, I was (wisely) moved to respond to my body’s cues, and I did what any talented quarterback would do in a critical, time-sensitive moment of a football game…I “called an audible.”
In case you’re unfamiliar with this American football term, it means that a quarterback decides to call a play that is different than what the coaches had planned. Typically this happens because the quarterback notices that the opposing defense changed their formation at the last minute.
In my scenario, the defense—the host of powerful physical sensations surging in my body—was definitely gearing up to sack me. The “sack” would have been my being overcome with disappointment in myself and regret after I inevitably would have unloaded my mess of emotion on my family when they had little to do with it.
Instead of let the defense barrel over me, I briefly took stock of how unstable my body was, and called in a game-changing play: “The Just Lie Down” play. That is, I ceased efforts to make dinner, walked to a room that had a rug, and lay down with my legs and arms slightly spread apart.
Doable in football…definitely not. Effective in real life…absolutely! I simply stayed on the floor with my eyes closed for about five minutes, which was all that was necessary to allow all of the feelings and charged energy to move through and leave my body. It was an amazingly restorative experience, and here’s why:
While I was lying down, I envisioned that all the difficult emotion that was not serving me was being pulled down into the earth. Following a teaching of very wise indigenous cultures, I consciously released all the dis-ease of that moment into the ground so that Mother Earth could absorb my negativity and transmute it into beautiful, delicious, and useful creations, such as fall produce!
Of course, calling an audible will look different depending on the person and the situation, but I highly recommend lying down if that is available to you. Admittedly, the most critical step is being able to first tune in and respond to challenging feelings and/or physical sensations in the heat of a moment.
As hard as it is to develop such discipline, the payoff is well worth it…choosing to not give in to patterned behavior prevented me from ultimately transferring my baggage onto others. How satisfying and uplifting that is!
By the way, if it crossed your mind that my “audible” should have been to simply order food to be delivered for dinner that night, I agree that, that would have been a good call to score the touchdown of getting everyone fed.
I believe that it wouldn’t have led to winning the actual game though, which was to regulate my system so that I wouldn’t succumb to a possible interception by the defense later on, i.e.: take out my emotion on a family member as soon as I got triggered by some innocuous comment, which was very likely to happen.
Whether or not you are a football fan, I encourage you to be an attentive quarterback who calls effective audibles when the defense is preparing for a blitz.
Who knows…maybe by changing your usual game plan you’ll feel like a Super Bowl champion and celebrate with a hearty fall soup and a slice of apple pie. Thanks of course, to your head coach, Mother Earth!
FYI, there is a “play book” that can assist you in developing the ability to call audibles when you most need them; it is a practice called “The Work.” You can learn about this special practice at a workshop happening in Westport on November 7th. I look forward to playing with you there!