If you don't already, try to meditate. I don't want to be too obnoxious about this. I understand what a privileged thing it can be to take a moment, focus on the present, and breathe. I also think that if we are privileged enough to be humans, landing on this planet with some consciousness, then we get to mediate if we want to, no matter what our circumstances are.
I hate sitting with myself and focusing on the moment as much as most people do, so I'll tell you how I got into meditation and why I think it's worth a try:
In 2007 I took a huge order from a hotel, the biggest order I had ever taken up to that point. I was paid a lot of money to make a leaf-shaped plate that could hold toiletries in a bathroom that catered to business people who played golf. Everything with the order went wrong, from initial prototypes cracking over and over again, to the glaze turning a peculiar shade of baby-poo yellow in the final stages, which did not match the hotel room linens. There was a check that was already cashed, and there were deadlines.
I was losing sleep, constantly on edge, and obsessed with problem-solving this order. This period lasted about a month, and it felt like a year-- sound familiar? Everyone in my life was sick of hearing about it. At one point, after a conversation with my hotel liaison, I was so stressed I felt like I wasn't even in my body, a feeling I never experienced before. I was so desperate for relief from my own mind that I finally took someone's advice to try meditation.
Starting a practice at that time did not fix the problem or make me a better person. But it gave me enough self-awareness to realize when I was freaking out about something out of my control, and that it was time to step back emotionally and get some distance so I could calm down. I've had an imperfect and unsteady meditation practice ever since.
What I will say is that meditation is not for special people who have exclusive access to inner peace. Meditation is for everyday messed up people who struggle with life and want another tool to deal with it. Especially in this moment, which is all uncertainty and not even the people who are supposed to know things know what is next, staying in the moment is a good way to stay sane. I offer Sparrow's guide to meditation to help you along in this journey should you choose to go on it, and these words from them:
Sit comfortably, either in a chair or cross-legged on the floor. (You may wish to use a firm cushion.) Try to keep your spine as straight as possible, without being rigid. Close your eyes. Pay attention to your breathing, noticing the breath entering and leaving your nostrils (or your mouth, if that’s how you breathe). You’re not trying to breathe slowly — or quickly, for that matter — just noticing the flow of air in and out. After three or four minutes, stop. Unless you’re desperate to keep meditating; then go for as long as you like.
How was it? Sometimes the first sitting is extremely powerful. Most of the time it’s about as memorable as using an ATM.
Quite possibly you shouldn’t meditate. But if you’re determined to try, it’s not terribly difficult. Just expect to waste time twice a day, and you’ll do fine.
By the way, that order? In the end, it was fine. Everyone was paid, and the hotel re-ordered that leaf-shaped platter for years. It taught me a very valuable lesson which I will now share with you: THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A POTTERY EMERGENCY.
Do you have a meditation practice? Tell me about it if you do.