Sweet Relief

Years ago I was driving to work and something wonderful happened.

It was early, before the start of first shift which began at 7:30 am.  The sun was rising softly so the sky was full of light blue and dusty pink.  I was driving past the military cemetery with it’s stone walls, majestic trees and neatly ordered, pure white grave stones rolling across little hills into the distance.  Nothing in particular was happening.  Traffic was moving gently, and the light had just turned green.

In one moment, I had a feeling and thought pass through my body.  And all at once I knew . . . this is the moment I’d always been waiting for.  Always.  Been.  Waiting.  For.  It felt like I was taking a breath for the first time, or had been let out of jail.  This moment was everything I’d ever wanted because I was alive and well and happy.  I also felt relief.  Deep, sweet relief.

You have to understand: for most of my young adult life I’d been trying to get “somewhere.”  The next opportunity, the next job, the next gig, the next fun activity, the next, the next, the next.  Because something more exciting or wonderful was always out there.  This left me in a state of quiet panic most of the time, unfortunately.  No rest for the weary.  And then one spiritual realization lead to another, and wa-la, I’m driving to work at dawn and realize this is the moment to top all moments.  Likewise this moment was as precious as all the other moments, and most importantly I didn’t need to look elsewhere for that perfect moment anymore.  It was with me, and I was with it.  Maybe forever if I wanted.

The problem with this story is that you can’t force this kind of realization.  I can tell you all about that moment, and you won’t feel it like I did.  You won’t experience it like I did, and although you  may nod your head sympathetically, it’s still only a story.

Last spring, however, I found a way to relay a little bit of this story to one of my students through direct experience.  (She taught me, actually.)  This particular student was in her last semester of college and literally running from school to work to rehearsals and back to work, all day, every day.  We talked about the pace and the stress and the toll it was taking on her spirit.

Then, we talked about creating moments of relief during her day.  What I felt that morning in the car so many years ago was profound relief, profound letting go.

But, what would happen if we could build in small experiences of relief throughout her busy day?  Would that add up to something tangible and worthwhile?  Would it bring her an overall sense of relief?

It did.

What started with a stretching exercise in her voice lesson, turned into an awareness that she could muster the experience of relief for herself.

She did a forward fold yoga stretch while sitting in her chair, and took several deep breaths.  When she sat up, she looked calmer and more at peace.  It only took a minute to create a little, tiny space for relief to enter.  After sitting in silence for a few minutes, we talked about doing this stretch a few times during her busy day and how good that would feel.

When she came to her lesson the next week, she was on cloud nine.  “I changed my life,” she said.

This is exactly right, SHE changed something and her life changed.

She said just doing this stretch a few times a day between activities completely changed how she perceived her workload.  She felt more energized, more focused, and calmer in general.  She also realized how important it was to do things that she enjoyed during the day instead of only “working hard.”

Again, this is just a story and only life experience can offer you the real deal teachings.  I humbly offer it to you as a representation of how to find ways to experience moments of relief your day.  Each one of us has to figure out what works.  For this student it was a stretching exercise, that (by the way) helps stretch the muscles around the top cervical vertebrae, and in turn probably helps the voice function.

Anyhoo . . . relief.  Love it, give it to yourself, and enjoy ALL the moments.  They are the ones you have always been waiting for.



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