It’s been awhile since I have posted an entry from my series on “Everything I Need to Know I Learned in Special-Ed Pre-School” (If you are new to reading: Sensory Break, Make Good Choices, Never Cut Your Own Hair, and Do. Your. Job. are also in this series ). This has been on my mind this morning because, after a week of Spring Break, a short vacation, my son returning from college, Easter, and just the basic stresses of life in general, I am feeling like I need a Sensory Break.
A Sensory Break is a fancy word for taking a break from “seated learning activities or sedentary activities.” However, seated and sedentary are not words I would choose describe a pre-schooler. More often than not, the Sensory Break was used to calm and center a child when they became agitated and flustered from being OVER-stimulated by their environment. It might be a walk down the hall with a teachers-aid or a quick trip to the a room that had swings, balance beams and other toys that would bring them back in to focus. Quietness was also a helpful bonus. I have to admit that I am in this category. I certainly don’t need a break from being sedentary or seated. I need a break from all the rest.
A few years ago I read (most of) a book called “It’s All Too Much.” It was about organizing your home, but the premise was that the root of the problem was not lack of order as much as it was about the unnecessary, the overload of stuff, the striving for more. Some days I feel like that about life: “It’s all too much.” I don’t even know where to begin to sort it all out. So here is my body’s natural response: Numbness.
A few years ago, the band U2 wrote a song called “Numb.” It was written using approximately 2 different notes, repeating a list of “Don’ts” (Don’t move, Don’t talk out of time/ don’t think/ don’t worry/ etc.) for 4.12 minutes…. One note…the whole time. It’s intent was to “recreate that feeling of sensory overload.” They were attempting to make you experience in a 4.12 minute song, what it feels like to be overwhelmed, overloaded, and shut down as a result. I don’t need their help. I can do this all my little self.
Numbness is a state I live in when I feel overwhelmed or out of control or over-stimulated by worrying too much about people or problems that have nothing to do with me. Or when I stay so busy rushing from one activity to the next that I don’t take the time to feel the joy, frustration or pain that regularly interrupts those activities. As a full grown adult, I am realizing that I too need Sensory Breaks. As a rule, I am terrible at this.
I used to use major events or life transitions as sporadic Sensory Breaks. Ever try that one? “If I can just make it until my vacation next month…If I can hold on until they go back to school this fall….If I can keep it together until I go out with the girls/guys after work on Thursday.” The problem with these types of breaks is that the in-between time is spent just trying to survive until the next one comes along. It’s not enough to really live on.
I have been prepping to write this all morning: I read up on Sensory Breaks and Mindfulness tactics and perused Wikipedia on U2’s “Numb” and read the Intro to “It’s All Too Much” on Amazon (because, apparently I have misplaced it…). I knew I needed to write but also felt like I had very little to offer in the way of solution. Actually, when I looked up ways to utilize tools of Mindfulness and remedy Sensory Overload, I was so overwhelmed I became more anxious than ever. Talk about “It’s All Too Much”!
Luckily, before I launched in to the insanity of sharing all these ramblings with you, I paused long enough to center my mind on some readings that tend to bring me to simplicity (The author uses scripture and interprets it as if God were talking directly to the reader). Not surprisingly, here is what the entry said for today—for this exact day of my crisis of chaos:
“I am training you in steadiness. Too many things interrupt your awareness of Me. I know that you live in a world of sight and sound, but you must not be a slave to those stimuli. Awareness of me can continue in all circumstances, no matter what happens. This is the steadiness I desire for you…As soon as something grabs your attention, talk with Me about it…I help you cope with whatever is before you…This is the way of Peace.”
This I can do. Or at least try to do. It’s simple but not easy. I can return my attention to Him throughout my day, taking Sensory Breaks to pray, meditate, sit in silence, listen, read, remind, trust, get perspective, and be grateful; these are tiny but profound adjustments I can integrate into my daily madness that just might allow me to live in the present with the “peace that passes understanding.” Dear God—Let it be so.
*in editing my blogs I realized I wrote on this topic In October of 2015! Progress not perfections, right! See part I in archives.