old habits die hard

Yesterday we were lucky to see southern California desert in bloom.  It was exceptional – what we know to be brown, rocky mountains and dusty plains are very much awash in purples, yellows, orange, white… depending on where you go (and we went *everywhere*) poppies or lupine, desert daisies and tons of evening primrose… most amazing were the huge swaths of orange poppies across vast green mountains which are normally brown. We went to Anzo-Borrego state park and Joshua Tree. It was a long day. By the end of it, I had a solid headache and 2.5 hours of driving (as a passenger) to go. Tucker is an excellent driver, but I learned a few years back that I not a great passenger, so it’s best if i read or write or do something else instead of watching the road. I trust him completely, yet i’m always gasping and shit. yeah, who needs it. Given that it was dark, an app was my best distraction, and as I tried to tuck my headache into a corner of my brain so I could re-orient and just focus on the game, I thought I’d be able to make it all the way home.

Then it hit me.

Obviously, I needed to spend a little time in my body. Obviously, I needed to check in to my overall feeling state – including the headache – and try to release any resistance I was holding, physically and mentally. I got curious about the headache, which did shift with attention. In being quiet and not distracted, I overheard a funny conversation between my kids I would have missed. I didn’t keep my attention on my headache all the time, I wandered in and out, but I spent a solid couple of hours relaxing and releasing – and I never ran out of things to relax or release. That was fascinating. I had all sorts of pains come up and be noticed, and a couple got super intense (having been in a car so much of the day) but they all released over time. The headache was smaller by the time I got home, but I still went straight to bed (having been in a car so much of the day).

I was extremely amused to notice my habit of “distract!” and the feeling of “this [aspect of my body] feels awful. how can i tuck it away and focus on something else.” Feeling that was familiar. Feeling a choice, I was skeptical. Did I really want to put my attention on a headache? or any part of a body that’s been driving all day? Very skeptical, even with this intensely focused year of body awareness. I was pleasantly surprised. And extremely grateful that it is becoming such a powerful habit. Although, I may have crushed my high score on 3’s.  All in all, I think I made the better choice.