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Jill Allison Bryan : Tangled Mess to Meditation

Tangled Mess to Meditation

By Jill Allison Bryan

Recently while dressing to go out to dinner, I accidentally pulled several necklaces off a hook in my closet, and they landed in a tangled pile on the floor. Half a dozen or so dainty silver chains were knotted up into a twisted heap. To make matters worse, I was running late and in a bit of a hurry. (of course I was — things like this usually happen to us when we're barreling through the day — don't they?)

As I picked up the jumble of jewelry off the carpet and laid it down on a bureau to begin the tedious process of untangling the mess that lay before me, I took a deep breath. Of course I have experienced this sort of annoying inconvenience many times in my daily life, just as everyone has at one time or another. And, I'm fairly certain that at those times I met the problematic task at hand with frustration and possibly even full-blown anger (insert outrageously inappropriate curse words of your choice here). But, this time, as I contemplated the sparkling, jumbled mass in front of me, I simply took another deep breath.

That's when it dawned on me — the realization that I could reframe this potentially aggravating experience as an act of meditation. I took another calming breath. I recalled the wise words of Thich Nhat Hanh, respected Zen master, poet and peace and human rights activist. In his book, Peace Is Every Step, Hahn said that any task performed with focus and love can serve as a meditation. Another breath.

The concept of "reframing" was shared with me by my own creativity coach, Jill Badonsky, author of The Nine Modern Day Muses (and a Bodyguard): 10 Guides to Creative Inspiration for Artists, Poets, Lovers, and Other Mortals Wanting to Live a Dazzling Existence. A wonderfully liberating technique, reframing gives us the opportunity to create a new perspective for ourselves — to take a challenging situation and put a different (hopefully more wise and more fun) spin on it. Deep breath. This just might work!

"It's my choice," I realized. So, I chose to calmly focus on solving the puzzle in front of me with care and a slow and steady hand. I now fully realized that getting angry or attempting to rush through the process would only make matters worse. (As in, here I sit with several broken necklaces ripped apart with my bare hands!)

Over the next 5 minutes of so, I gently worked one dainty chain free at a time and set it aside. Each time that I liberated a chain I felt more peaceful within. Finally, when all of the necklaces had been unraveled and hung gingerly back in their rightful place, I felt more than calm and peaceful. I felt powerful. Rather than allowing the situation to dictate a negative outcome, I had chosen the best possible action for the moment — and had ended up treating myself to an unexpected meditation in the process.

The experience was so simple, yet so profoundly rewarding that I feel sure it will stay with me the next time I find myself in a similarly nerve-wracking situation. (You know the type: spilt milk, a shattered glass, dinner guests arriving in 10 minutes with 30 minutes worth of prep work left to do, the list goes on…) I will ask this small (but oh so powerful) question — "How can I reframe this situation to best serve my highest self?" I share this story with you in the sincere hope that this method of creative thinking will help you to transform your next tangled mess into a relaxing meditation. •

© 2008 Jill Allison Bryan

Jill Allison BryanJill Allison Bryan helps people to experience the joy and fulfillment that creativity can bring to their lives with Creative Oasis Coaching. More »

9/20/08