Patty Chang Anker – Guest Blogger
Tell me if you do this:
You begin a project with great gusto. But before long, you’re getting a snack, sweeping the porch, checking Facebook, dreaming of other projects, because you need a break.
You go to yoga class, or treat yourself to a massage. Excited for the time off, you lie down and close your eyes, and…start making lists. Forgot to do this, must do that, how much longer here? Because you need to get things done.
I do, too! And so do many of the women I coach. It seems silly – why can’t we work when we’re supposed to work and rest when we’re supposed to rest? Instead, we’re looking for the emergency exit, thereby making it harder to achieve our goals and creating stress rather than reducing it. Why do we do such self-defeating things? As a fear-facing expert, I believe it’s mostly because of fear.
Fear of commitment (Did I make the right choice? Is there something better I should be doing?) or of failure (What if I’m no good at this?). Fear of discomfort (I don’t know what I’m doing. I’m bored. This is hard. I wish I were done already!), and fear of not being worthy (Who am I to try this?). And a common fear for women who have balanced others’ needs all our lives: the fear that doing any one thing wholeheartedly for ourselves is at the expense of doing for others. And who gave us permission to do that? No wonder we’re like reluctant party guests (Hi, I’m here! How do I get out of here?).Which is sad when the party is our one and only life!
The good news is, we can overcome our fears. We can train our minds and our bodies to quiet our doubts, to be here now, to focus on the task at hand. Try this:
- Set a timer for 1 minute, and breathe, in and out through your nose, feeling the temperature of the air as it flows in and out. Every time your mind wanders, say “Ok. Back to the breath,” and bring attention back to the temperature of the air. This is the foundation of meditation: when the brain runs away, gently guide it back to the here and now. This one technique can help calm your nerves while giving a speech or allow you to actually enjoy the massage you’re paying for. Fear drains energy, breathing mindfully restores it.
- Set a timer for 25 minutes, and work toward your goal (whether it’s writing a book or clearing clutter) without stopping (No snacks! No Facebook!). If a distracting thought arises, write it down on a separate pad but don’t get caught up in it: Get right back to work. When the timer goes off, take a short, 3-5 minute timed break. Then set it again. This is in essence the Pomodoro Technique, which you can adapt for your own work habits. For me, 40 minutes was a better block of time to work – I could sustain focus for that long and then get up and feed the meter where I parked by my office.
See how it’s basically the same idea (bring the mind back to the task at hand) whether it’s for getting things done or taking a break? All it takes is practice.
A retreat, the Women at Woodstock retreat especially, can be a great place to start. You have already committed to being away from your old routines. You don’t need our permission to focus on yourself (but we’ll give it to you anyway). And you’ll be surrounded by sisters reminding you that you can’t fail at this. Just hang out, listen, learn, laugh, be – woot! Success!
I will be with you in various capacities: as a coach leading the Going the Distance workshop on building endurance to achieve meaningful goals, as your yoga teacher encouraging you to breathe and stretch and set intentions for the day, as a Thai bodyworker/reiki healer who will allow you to release all that effort and truly rest, and as a participant, learning alongside you. My goal is to be fully present. I will breathe, and I will be so very happy, simply being with you. I can’t wait.
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Patty Chang Anker is a nationally recognized fear facing expert and a courage coach who empowers people to live their biggest, bravest lives. She is the author of SOME NERVE: Lessons Learned While Becoming Brave and the blogger behind Facing Forty Upside Down and the PsychologyToday.com “Some Nerve” Anxiety blog.
Patty will be teaching “Going The Distance: How to Get Your Goals from Deciding to Doing to DONE.” , and she will also be leading our morning Yoga Classes and offering private Thai Bodywork and Reiki Healing Sessions at Women At Woodstock 2016.