I ruminate. I wanted to find a softer opening to describe my thought patterns than that harsh fact, but not writing it doesn’t make it less true. I don’t intend to, but, I can spend minutes, that lead to hours, reliving emotionally upsetting issues. Some of us worry more about the future than the past. I worry about the past. And, being tired of this truth has created a necessity to figure out my shit…how to stop doing that thing that not only doesn’t serve me, but robs me of the present. I lose out on joy. I am not in gratitude. I am not connected to my own path, my very devout belief in the benefits of consciousness, meditation, release and deliberate peace. I sometimes find myself in a self-imposed funk and feel as if everyone else has it together…making me feel more of a mess. I know HOW to switch gears and still will convince myself of my lack of power over my thought patterns. It’s exhausting. So, I am in the often challenging process of starving stress. Stress needs only one thing to thrive: our permission. This being the case, there are times my stress levels reach clinically obesity. I provide a virtual buffet to skeletons that I bring back to life, resuscitating the dead events and the long departed characters who no longer have a place in my life. It’s a real gift. Reframing the thing, the thought, the event that changes everything from our mood to our health isn’t the easiest task, to say the least. But, with practice, it is becoming much more the norm than the rumination which dictated that I must choose a different way, lest I ruin all that is good in my life. How do we starve stress? This is going to cause some face palms, but bear with me. Stop thinking about it. That’s it. Stop replaying the movie, the dialogue, the character’s roles. Stop. The brain, being additive, requires that we exchange what we’ve taken away with something different. In this case, as the credits start to roll and the rerun begins without my ever consciously hitting play, I turn it off. No matter how much I don’t feel like it in that moment, I pick up my day book (my go-to is The Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo), I make a green juice, take a walk, call a friend and ask how THEY’RE doing, I stay off social media, (that proneness to compare and despair), I browse a second hand store. I do some small creative project. Recently, I realized I have never liked my book cases, so, I emptied them, and roved my house for objects I enjoy. I can’t believe what a difference it’s made, creating spaces that are an extension of my identity. I move. Body weight exercises are the unsung heroes of stress zappers. Squats, sit ups, push ups, even stretching has provided an instant boost in the funky mire of my mind. The physical benefits are a bonus. I meditate, and I do so until I am truly calm. Meditation, for me, was once the mental version of plate spinning…how many thoughts could I entertain at once. I believed that was the time to really search for solutions. I now relish in achieving “emptiness” of mind. Freeing myself of the clutter by intentionally letting that shit GO. I could continue with my list of personal actions taken when I find myself slipping into old thought patterns, but you get the picture. Yours will look different and no matter what they are, they will work wonders. We are born with two fears- the fear of falling and the fear of loud noises. Everything else we fear is learned, therefore it is in our power to diminish these acquired fears. More often than not, my negative thought patterns are interwoven with fear. The reality is, the worst case scenario rarely happens. We awfulize. We project. We link the past to the future and willingly, diligently work to construct a bridge in order for exactly that to come to fruition. “Hello, past! Welcome to my future!” And, then we wonder why the past repeats itself. Nobody tells us we get to set up orange cones and give sick thinking a detour, straight out of our life, clearing our path for abundance. I recently watched a documentary on conscious practices, yoga, meditation, etc. The most striking realization was not new information, but what evolved, put into practice, was a game changer: We seek happiness, joy, contentment, peace as if they are something outside of ourselves and therefore accept that something stands between us and our soul’s satisfaction. In reality, we possess these things, innately. Our homeostasis IS contentment. It is our job to clear what is standing between us and our own peace. This thought is much more empowering, as it places me completely in charge of my own joy. When we see external factors as a block to our mental and emotional health, we simultaneously relinquish our power to govern how we view our circumstances. When we see that all that is required is getting out of our own way, that heaviness in our soul begins to move and we feel inside, that which we’ve been seeking outside. As I sit and gaze at my kick-ass bookcases, I have to laugh at myself for living so long with something I thoroughly found dull, ugly, and anything but a reflection of who I am. I did it in about an hour. Ridiculous, considering I’ve owned these shelves for over 10 years. “They” also don’t tell us that the same is true of internal decorating. We can start immediately. It felt daunting to retrain my brain not to sink into negative thought patterns. It felt daunting to redo my bookcases. I think you get the idea…enjoy this next hour of freedom. Peace, Warriors.