When cookies for breakfast seem like a good idea…

danish butter cookies. yum
Danish Butter cookies by simply stardust on Flickr

The other day, I was driving around in my car and I felt that overwhelming sense of abundance that makes me wonder why and how I got to be so lucky.  It has been an interesting few days with car issues and sick kids and sick me, but somehow, none of that got me down.  These experiences that seem like they’d be difficult became evidence of my blessings.  My dad worked on my car battery issue which is something he knows stuff about and something I hate dealing with because I don’t, so that was so huge.  My mom spent yet another morning with the girls who were out of school for the day so I could go teach my class without worry. My parents are incredibly generous, supportive and fun people to be around and I felt that so deeply.  When it turned out that the car needed a visit to the shop, I felt grateful for my good mechanic and that I have money in the bank to pay for the car repair. Yay nice and competent mechanics.  Yay job.  And Yay Christmas! That special day was right around the corner and I love holidays with family, food, love.  It all felt so real and so wonderful in that moment in my car.  I know there are people out there that are just positive and grateful and happy most of the time, but I wouldn’t put myself in that category.  This was something special.  It stretched into the night and I really soaked it in.

The very next day, I woke up after 9 sweet hours of sleep…the girls didn’t come into bed with me in the middle of the night and I have finally created the perfect blanket-layer so my bed climate is ideally suited to me.  It was delicious sleep all the way through.  I wanted to stay asleep because I was having a good dream involving a handsome coworker but even better than the dream was the most adorable twittering from the girls who played together in the living room. So I let the dream fade and smiled as I got out of bed to greet the girls.  Amazing right? The morning started out in such a lovely way.  It was so lovely that I decided to play on the floor with Hazel and Nora and skip dance and my morning practice.

Why?  Why do I do this?  Why am I feeling so good and the world and my children and my blankets on my bed all seem so perfect and then I think that things are good enough that I don’t actually need to do the routine I’ve developed that helps to keep me happy and balanced?  It’s like in my blissed-out state, I can no longer recall that I do my practice because it helps me to stay in balance.  I dance on Sunday mornings because I love to dance on Sunday mornings.  Not only did I choose not to do these things that I really enjoy but then something else occurred…

In a misguided attempt at perpetuating good feelings, the girls and I opened a gift that happened to be there on the carpet next to us.  In that gift was a box of Danish Butter cookies.

I ate many cookies.  The girls each got one, but every time they turned around, I pulled another and then another pretzel shaped, sugar-encrusted cookie from the little crinkled paper cups. By 10am, I was a wreck.  I was stomping around and so incredibly grouchy.  My belly ached and I realized, 2 days before Christmas, that I hadn’t done enough Christmas shopping and that there were dirty dishes all over the counter and the studio space is still over crowded and cluttered and that Christmas makes me so anxious. Because I don’t even like Christmas.  I had a hunch the cookie-breakfast might have had something to do with all of this, but life was suddenly so hard that I couldn’t worry about cookie-eating.  There were way to many other things to worry about.

My teacher has said that when we are in balance, we can perceive the world from a place of balance.  Also coming to mind is the Heart of Yoga’s Yoga Sutra translation for 2.10 that says “when the obstacles do not seem to be present, it is important to be vigilant.”  This seems really relevant: do what I need to do to stay in balance and remember,  “a temporary state of clarity should not be confused with a permanent state.”

By 4pm, I realized that being out of balance was making my day very difficult. I needed to do something to break out of my cookie-induced funk. I needed to initiate a shift in the system.  Let’s be honest…just deciding this rarely works.  A little living room dance party or some asana would have been really good, but I was too grouchy to muster the energy or enthusiasm to get that going.  Patanjali has lots of observations in his sutras about things that can help to bring  us back in to balance and I chose to follow 1.39’s recommendation that says “any inquiry of interest can calm the mind.”  Amanda’s choice: Facebook and MarthaStewart.com.

The quiet attention to the computer was enough to still the inflammation in my psyche and to distract me from my bad mood for long enough to remember that good moods are much nicer.  The subtle shift happened as I sat and read and got my mind off of my own woe for a little while.  Once it did, then going outside, getting dressed and making a few handmade gifts seemed possible again.  I know what I need to do to stay in balance.  This includes my morning yoga practice and abstaining from the alluring cookie breakfast. I also know that when I recognize that I’m in a state of imbalance, there are many things that I can do to break out of it and that if I can gently encourage a shift in my system, then other good choices are easier to make from there. This is simple stuff.  The things that we need to do to stay in balance are rarely complicated:  Practice. Don’t eat cookies for breakfast. Be vigilant.

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12 thoughts on “When cookies for breakfast seem like a good idea…

  1. Thanks Amanda. This past year I started a daily practice and I am convinced that with this deciplaine, I become more aware of what takes me out of balance and what brings me into balance. I also believe that those “out of balance” episodes well never totally go away but will gradually become less often;) Namaste

  2. I have to be honest…I have done this, today in fact 😦 It was a tough morning nonetheless…but once I realized how out of balance I had become, I relaxed and focused on shifting the mood. Thank you so much Amanda for sharing this with me. Amazing how much we can learn from each other. 🙂 mb

  3. I’m not sure if I’m supposed to be laughing, but starting at this statement: “Why? Why do I do this? Why am I feeling so good and the world and my children and my blankets on my bed all seem so perfect and then I think that things are good enough that I don’t actually need to do the routine I’ve developed that helps to keep me happy and balanced?” I started laughing my face off. I was laugh-crying. This blog unfolded like a 1950s horror movie…I can see the cookies over on the counter, getting bigger and bigger as you press your hands to your face and scream, “NOOOOOOO!!!” And then you became Max from “Where The Wild Things Are,” stomping around. Oh, my dear, I so appreciate your life work. You are aware, you are honest, you are active. I also must share – in the 1st paragraph, as you describe the good feelings building, I noticed that your story included being helped by many trusted people. And I thought, “Yes.” It is all very simple. Thanks for sharing! OM Shanti.

  4. Definitely connected with this post. Did not practice vigilance last night after my healthy dinner.. too much dessert. I have trouble a lot shifting out of that “state of imbalance” and just keep going on eating those cookies! It was interesting to read your point of view and solution to your cookie slump.

    1. “too much” is a very familiar challenge for me. This wine/cookie/computer time is so good, I’ll just have more and a little more an maybe just a little more… I’m experimenting with moderation. Hopefully, with practice, I’ll get better at it.

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