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How to Keep Your Husband Out of a Ditch in the Middle of the Night

overcome worry with mindfulnessA few nights ago I woke up in the middle of the night to find my husband wasn’t home.

Now, this isn’t all that crazy… he owns a trucking company and drives a truck for a living. I knew he’d be driving that night, and I really thought he would already be home at the time I looked at the clock.

I rolled over in bed and my mind started racing.  He fell asleep. He crashed the truck. Dead in a ditch somewhere… and it just went downhill from there.

I decided to not let my imagination get away from me, and just call him. The phone rang and rang and then went to voice mail.

OMG. Definitely. Dead.in.a.ditch.

As my mind swirled out of control a little voice in the back of my head said: “breathing in”. And then: “breathing out”. It got me out of my panic and worry for long enough to think about other alternatives… for ways to stay in the present moment, to practice mindfulness.

Earlier in the day Hanna and I had been at the pool. She had a bunch of friends to play with so I took the opportunity to read a couple chapters in Buddhism for Mothers. I just happened to have read the chapters  on anger and worry.

In the anger chapter Sarah Napthali talks about the 5 options for dealing with disturbing thoughts Buddha gave in his Discourse on the Forms of Thought. They are:

1. Dwell on the positive.
2. Consider the results of our thoughts
3. Distract ourselves
4. Consider the alternatives
5. Use our willpower

I could remember seeing the list in the book… but to save my life at 3:20a I could NOT remember what any of them were. So I just stayed in the present moment… noting I was breathing in, and breathing out.

After a couple minutes, my pulse slowed, my mind slowed, and the phone rang.

It was my husband… not in a ditch. Bone tired, and almost home.

I went back to sleep, but when I woke the next morning and played the scenario over in my head (not very mindful of me lol)… I noticed how when I was in the moment, focused on breathing in, breathing out, I could not also be focused on my husband in a ditch… and all the other things my imagination was trying to cook up.

It was the moment that mindfulness really became clear to me. I am here, in this moment, breathing. I can not be, at the same time, in a ditch with my husband. So… whether I can remember the list of 5 options or not… I can always remember to remember to breathe.

I’ve started to remember to remember… when I get worried, when my mind starts to race, when I start getting overwhelmed, nervous and scared… remember to remember and breathe.

Breathing in. Breathing out.

jackie lee

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