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Remember when email used to be an act of wonder? It felt deliciously mysterious to click on “send” knowing your friend or work colleague would receive it instantaneously.  Equally, receiving email felt like a mystery.

Fast forward to today. The mystery of email is dead. Just about every email feels like an attack on my time, another ‘to do’ on my long list.

Yesterday I counted 16 school-related emails just in the last 7 days, 12 from my son’s soccer team, 77 promotional emails, and a dozen from my husband who will often now send me reminders via email instead of talking to me.

That’s just my personal email. Then there’s my work email.

I’ve been thinking lately a lot about the stress of email and how to regain a sense of wonder with this modern mystery. Here’s what’s working for me so far, maybe it will work for you?

  1. Breathing. Before I open an email I take a deep breath. There’s a gazillion studies that show that slow conscious breathing soothes the nervous system. Plus it’s common sense, right?
  2. Gratitude.  The other day my husband sent me an email and instead of going to my default mode of  pissed-off “not again” instead I opened and read it slowly and deliberately with a sense of gratitude. Sheesh, was that a wonder-shower! It felt like we were dating again.
  3. Feel, don’t conceal. Okay, maybe I’ve watched the movie Frozen with my kids way too many times, but there’s a lot of wisdom in these words. I’ve been using this concept of feeling my feelings when a new email arrives, not concealing my overwhelm or pushing away feelings of disappointment in myself when I see the tenth request to volunteer at my son’s school and I know I’m going to say no. Feeling ones feelings isn’t always comfortable, but there’s this pleasurable sense of freedom living in my truth.

 

The pressure of email reminds me a lot of when my son was young. He cried all the time. I was a ball of stress for fifteen months, always dreading his next scream. And then late one night as he was crying and I felt I could do no more I put him in his crib and picked up Thich Nhat Hanh’s book, Peace is Every Step, a Bible on mindfulness.

Thich says mindfulness is available in every situation. So the next day – determined to shift a challenging situation into something better - every time my son screamed I’d use it as an opportunity to take a slow deep breath. Within minutes I felt calmer, more present, and more open to loving my baby deeply despite the stress his crying caused. I feel as though today I’m applying this same mindfulness practice to my the stress of email.

Breathe

Gratitude

Feel, don’t conceal

Clearly we’re not going to get rid of email any time soon.  Why not use mindfulness to keep the wonder alive?

Here’s to being good to yourself,

xo

Karen

Karen Brody is the founder of Bold Tranquility, a yoga nidra meditation company helping people be good to themselves. She is also the playwright of the critically acclaimed play Birth and founder of the BOLD Method for Birth, called “a powerful and poetic union of women’s empowerment and childbirth education.”