“In the midst of movement and chaos, keep stillness inside of you.” Deepak Chopra
Sunday morning started out like any normal day (since coronavirus that is.) But what began as a nice morning being enjoyed outside having coffee with my neighbor and her kids quickly turned to an unexpected trip to urgent care! As we sat chatting in my driveway while her kids played and drew with sidewalk chalk I was bitten by two fire ants. Now, I’ve been bitten by fire ants before, so I didn’t think anything of it. When they became itchy I excused myself to put some cortisone cream on the bites. But after about ten more minutes I began to itch all over and I started coughing and had a difficult time swallowing! I calmly told my neighbor that I was going to go inside and immediately went into my room and pulled up my shirt to discover my torso was covered in hives. As the minutes passed I could feel my throat closing and told my husband he needed to get me to the urgent care that was a few miles from our house.
I’ve been certified in CPR and First Aid training for years now and had the presence of mind to know that I was having an anaphylactic reaction to the bug bites. My husband’s adrenaline quickly kicked in and within a few more minutes we were in the car and on our way. Needless to say, he might have sped and ran a red light to get me to care as quickly as he could!
Luckily, we arrived at the urgent care facility during a time when they were not packed with many patients and after they determined the nature of the emergency they took me in right away. As the clock slowly ticked and I answered questions they confirmed what I already knew. If you’ve never experienced an anaphylactic reaction where your throat swells and you have difficulty breathing I will say, it’s an experience like no other! Even after they administered the epi-pen into my thigh and a shot of steroids into one arm and Benadryl into the other I had to wait for all of the medicine to kick in and calm down the storm in my body. The nurse helped me count out my breaths inhaling, one, two, three, four. Exhaling, one, two, three, four. But looking back to when the episode began I realized that a sort of calm washed over me as I was able to think each step through knowing full well that this could be a life-threatening emergency!
"By replacing fear of the unknown with curiosity we open ourselves up to an infinite stream of possibility. We can let fear rule our lives or we can become childlike with curiosity, pushing our boundaries, leaping out of our comfort zones, and accepting what life puts before us." Alan Watts
My meditation practice has helped me get through all of the unknowns during these last several months of the COVID19 pandemic. And as Sunday’s unexpected detour to my day proved, I CAN calmly get through any storm.
If there’s one thing my meditation practice has taught me, it’s this: I may not be able to change what is happening, but I can change my reaction to whatever is happening. And it’s my reaction that is going to determine how I get through whatever life throws at me!
Last Friday, during our ReConnect Retreat, we practiced a Mindfulness Meditation and several different breathing techniques designed to reduce stress and anxiety, and energize us as we moved from one activity to another.
There are many different types of breathing techniques. Each technique offers different benefits, such as alleviating stress, providing energy, promoting better sleep, focus, and improved memory. Most breathing techniques can be done anywhere and don’t take very long. Every time you sit and breathe you are building up your resilience and patience. Every time you sit and breathe you recalibrate your internal guidance system so that you are in tune with your body and you know the next right step. So even as life is throwing 80 mph curve balls at us we are able to react swiftly and calmly!
Meditation provides mental clarity and focus, as well as strength and calm in the face of adversity.
Meditation anchors us in the present moment. Rather than putting our focus on future things that may never even happen, we can tune into what’s happening right now. When we act from this place of strength we are fortified and our fears begin to fall away.
As I lay on the table coughing and swallowing and focusing on my breathing I knew that eventually the swelling would go down and I would be okay. Each time the doctor stepped in to talk to me and cracked a joke, I was present. Each time I made eye contact with the nurses I was reassured.
My original plans for the day were completely scrapped. By the time we left a few hours later, I was groggy and sore. What I needed now was rest to recover from the ordeal. My husband made the grocery trip that I had planned and went to the pharmacy to fill my prescription. But as I laid down to rest I was filled with gratitude. Gratitude for the awareness of what was going on and the ability to stay calm in the face of an emergency. Gratitude for each person that took care of me. And Gratitude for life!
None of us knows exactly what tomorrow has in store for us. But each time we are pushed outside of our comfort zone we have the opportunity to grow and realize our true potential.
With Love and Gratitude,
Kinda and Rachel