Friday, January 21, 2011

Once Upon a Time (Part 3) - Living in the Now

This morning, I was sitting in the waiting room of my fertility center and an overwhelming feeling of sadness washed over me.  I started to think about all of the times in the past that I’ve sat in that room, full of hope that my dreams were about to come true, only to be disappointed shortly thereafter.  After five minutes of waiting this morning, feeling badly for myself, I started getting that familiar nervous sickness in my stomach.  Before I knew it, my heart was pounding and my mind was racing about what was to come.  What if my “mock cycle” wasn’t going well and the use of an egg donor was going to be taken off the table as an option for us?  Or, what if the mock cycle turned out okay, but we don’t get pregnant, even with the use of donor eggs? 

Starting to panic, I looked around the waiting room.  There were four men sitting around, waiting for their significant others, and they were all doing something - playing videogames, texting, laughing during a phone conversation with someone.  I’m not proud to say that I immediately became irritated with these men, thinking “How can men be so unaffected by something so serious?”  And then I realized, those men were simply “living in the now.”  Men, as a general rule, don’t spend time obsessing about the past or worrying about the future.  They can get in a huge fight with their best friend one night and the next day they relate as though nothing ever happened, without so much as a discussion or apology.  I asked a guy friend one time how men were able to let things go so quickly and he replied “Why wouldn’t you?  What good does it do me to carry that [crap] around?”  For him, it was that simple.  There was no benefit in him living in the past, so he didn’t.

My fertility center is great about offering mind-body connection programs to patients, many of which address the importance of “living in the now.”  Some programs I find too “out there” for my liking, but a lot of them have been very helpful during this fertility journey.  For example, I love my fertility yoga classes.  I never feel as calm and happy as I do walking out of my weekly yoga class.  The focus in the class that I go to is not on twisting yourself into a pretzel.  Rather, the focus is on being in the present.  That means, accepting when thoughts of the past or worries about the future come into your mind, but instead of following those thoughts down their usual spiral, just acknowledging them and letting them go in peace.  Through yoga, I learn to feel what my body is telling me, where the tension is being held, and how to release it.  I remember to "just be," without judgments or expectations.  And, at least for the one hour a week that I commit to those principles, I am at peace.

I once read that spending too much time in the past leads to depression, and spending too much time in the future leads to anxiety.  That is why we should all strive to stay in the present.  I think that is true, although slightly over-simplified.  I think it is okay to think about “Once Upon a Time” and to learn from past experiences.  Depression doesn't become a concern until you get stuck in the emotions of the past, like I did this morning in the waiting room.  I also think that it is okay to look at the future, make plans and have dreams.  But it is the attachments to expectations and fears about the future that can get you into trouble with anxiety.  I have a long way to go in my pursuit of living in the now.  More consistent yoga and meditation practice would be a great start.  Does anyone else have ideas about how to stay in the present?  I would be so grateful if you would be willing to share.

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