If it’s Tuesday, this must be Belgium
Ten months ago, I embarked on a journey to join my husband on tour to multiple cities across the country. The adventure of traveling around the country has challenged me to adapt to different altitudes and adjust my emotional state when faced with unusual experiences.
The most frequently asked question when connecting with friends and family is, “What state are you in now?” When I hear that question I laugh and respond with a clarifying question, “Are you asking about what part of the country I’m in or my state of being?” That question holds great depth depending on how its interpreted. A natural response would be to name the geographical location I’m in, which is currently Portland Oregon.
Who Am I, Now?
As a mental health professional, I tend to look at questions beyond the surface level. The “where are you” question remains an invitation to go a little deeper to assess where you are in the various aspects of your life. Where are you mentally, spiritually, professionally, financially, physically, and relationally defines the multiple dimensions that make up your world. Perhaps you are a spouse, parent, sibling, or friend. Each role you play and the state you are in with that role informs how you define yourself and make meaning with your experiences.
Through my theological lens, I’m reminded of the biblical narrative written in Genesis 3 that describes God asking Adam this same question, “Adam, where are you?” The question asked was not because God didn’t know where Adam was but asked to see if Adam knew where he was.
How Do I Navigate From Here to There?
In her most recent book titled Atlas of the Heart Brene Brown illustrates making meaning and understanding our internal world using the theme of maps. Maps give us tools to store and exchange knowledge about space and place. Having a sense of place by asking the questions:
- Where am I?
- How did I get here?
- How did I get there from here?
Asking these questions is central to understanding how to navigate through tough conversations and emotional experiences that create a state followed by a story that colors our worldview.
Notice and Name It
Assessing where you are or what state you are in is a mindfulness practice that allows you to connect your experiences with how you are feeling. Throughout your day, no matter where you are, take a moment for yourself to recognize, “In this state I am…” allow yourself to become aware of your emotional experience, and your energy flow – is it positive or negative? Notice what is showing up in your body, observe your behavioral impulse and recognize the story you are telling yourself at that moment. Your sense of awareness around the place you go and how you got there will help you determine where (how) you want to spend your time.
This practice of becoming more aware of what is happening in our bodies and the connection between our feelings, thoughts, and behaviors allows us to naturally want to take care of ourselves. Even when we’re sick or in pain, a practice of mindfulness allows us to bring more tenderness and care to our lives.
I Know What State I am In
My travel experience while on tour requires an intentional practice for how I spend my time. The continuous movement from one place to the next activates all types of emotional states that I’ve grown to welcome with curiosity and have discovered so much more about the place I go when it all feels too much.