This week, the Cereal Boxers are delighted to present a guest blog from Kit Caelsto, owner of Chicken Yogi, who has applied her geeky insights to health and meditation.
You’ve checked your bag before you left your house. Fidget toys and some candy, check. Headphones to block out noise, check. Rehearsed the scripts you’ll use with the cashier because the self-checkouts make you anxious and you worry you’re taking too long. You’ve got that, plus your list and the exact order and plan for hitting all the stores while you’re running errands. Your six spell slots are full, completely powered up, and ready to go.
You’re like a wizard charging into battle, ready to go. A wizard? Yes, your accessibility items are magic, because they make your life easier. It’s okay to think of them as magic.
You’ve rehearsed everything you need in the careful manner a wizard prepares daily spells based on what the adventuring party might encounter. One never knows what lurks in the local dungeon, just as you may not know what the store has done, or run out of, to throw your shopping trip off track. In these days of supply chain issues, this is something all of us have faced more often than we’ve liked.
Running errands is one of the things that as a neurodivergent individual, I’m able to plan and schedule for, carefully managing the trip into town (50 miles round trip). Except there are times when shipping creates unfamiliar obstacles, as if I were a wizard in an adventuring party who has just encountered a monster, only to find out the one weakness the creature has is the spell that wasn’t prepared. What do you do?
Well, in D&D you can hide, or maybe rely on one of your other skills. If the monster is of a sufficiently high level, you’ll hope the dice roll in your favor and you make it out alive.
The stakes in a weekly trip aren’t nearly as dire, though they can feel that way. And if you encounter anything to throw your plan off, such as the store being out of something you really needed or, worse yet, rearranging all the shelves, then those careful stims and coping mechanisms you’ve packed may not be enough to get you through. One year Wal-Mart puts the school supplies over by the pharmacy. This year they’re back by the soda and chips, and that completely messes with my shopping flow.
The canny multi-classed wizard might also have a small dagger or other tool to use, and as someone who is neurodivergent, there are a few tools I keep in my metaphorical pack just in case.
For me, the tools are breath work and meditation. No, I’m not sitting down in the middle of Wal-Mart to do deep breaths, but I can focus on my breath as I meander through the aisles, wincing at the noises and keeping down my bubbling anxiety that I probably forgot something as I check my list three and four times. In a quiet aisle I pause, consult my list, and do some box breathing. Inhale to a count of four, hold it for a count of four, exhale for a count of four. I do this a few times, usually four because I can remember that, and then I’m calm, centered, and ready to move into the next items on my list.
Breath work keeps me from ruminating. It stops the flow in my brain, the one that has me going over and over the stops I need to make and what I need to get when I arrive. I don’t have to repeat this information to myself. It’s on my list. I trust the words printed in ink on the paper. I trust that if it were anything important, it’d be on the list. If it’s not, well then it wasn’t important enough to rise to my mind, and I do try to think of everything. So I reassure myself that I have this. I might throw a few affirmations in while I’m driving.
Like a wizard rehearsing the gestures for a spell, I repeat to myself: No one will get mad if you forget something. You’ve done this before. You know what you’re purchasing. And then I’ll pull into the parking space and breathe.
One of the things I like about meditation and breath work is they don’t require anything special. There are no special poses or equipment required to do either of those things, though common wisdom says otherwise. Meditation also doesn’t have to be done seated. You can stand, or even do moving meditations like walking. Understanding more than one meditation modality allows you to keep even more spells in your arsenal.
The good thing about meditation is that one size doesn’t fit all, and that means you can find the ways that work for you. Try a walking meditation in the parking lot, and maybe pause to breathe in a quiet aisle of the store. There’s no judgment for figuring out what works best for you, and you can learn to adapt these tools as you need them.
For me, the powerful spells of meditation and breath work help me navigate the battles that being neurodivergent brings. I’d love to help you find the tools that work best for you.
Kit Caelsto (they/them) is a certified meditation and yoga instructor with a focus on trauma-informed work for neurodivergent and chronically ill/disabled individuals. They provide online classes, group meditation sessions, and private instruction virtually from their homestead in the Ozarks. Get your free Five-Minute Meditation Course at https://chickenyogi.com/freeclass.
Twitter & FB: @chickenyogi