I woke up to a phone call early the other morning—at what felt like zero-dark-thirty. Normally, I would try to wait a while before checking in with any of my tech devices, however, on the other end of the line was a panic-stricken friend of mine, asking for advice. We spoke for a while, as she neared then retreated from the emotional ledge of frustration and fear. We went back and forth a few times until she felt better, promised to talk later, and then hung up to both go about our respective days.
I truncated my usual morning routine, missing my meditation, my personal inventory, my writing and deep breathing, in order to keep on schedule for the day. I stopped by my favorite Starbucks—for my daily dose of laughter and liquid jet fuel—in between my first and second meeting. But, instead of a shot of humor with my espresso, I witnessed a gentleman get angry with the barista over an incorrect order. The barista then took out her frustrations on the next patron in line, who, in turn, commiserated with her friend over how “awful” the barista was to them, and how “horrible” she was at her job. I felt my spirit sink. The ricochet of emotional pinball was affecting me way more than the usual New York City arcade, and I left the coffee shop disheartened, and out of my usual light, joyful state of being.
I had woken up in a reactionary state, at the mercy of someone else’s emergency, and instead of taking the time to regroup and return to the emotionally proactive position in which I usually live, I allowed my heart to be plunked into, and batted between, every single plastic peg of a person, until riddled with bruises from the life-size pachinko machine of the big city. So many of us are living in that state every single day without even realizing it.
Instead of us taking the time to get mindfully centered, we allow ourselves to be thrust into other people’s agendas, schedule and often drama. Immediately relinquishing our control the instant we wake up causes an emotional chain reaction based heavily on external factors, interactions with others and conditional events seemingly out of our control. The chaos of so many people bumping into one another exponentially escalates the likelihood of agitation and aggression as by-products.
We desperately need to unplug the pinball game of our own life, to power cycle it, so that when we plug it in again, we are in control of the momentum we gather, the things off of which we ricochet, the placement of each bonus bullseye.
I had to stop what I was doing after my Starbucks run, and find a quiet place to close my eyes, to breathe, and allow my thoughts to evaporate. Meditation is the human form of power-cycling. It allows us to unplug, clear our recent history, and reset to an emotionally neutral space, in which we can choose the feelings that we want to feel. We can allow those feelings to cultivate thoughts and actions that henceforth reinforce that desired feeling. So that when we plug ourselves back into the noisy, seizure-inducing strobe lights of life’s arcade, we are one hundred percent emotionally proactive in every moment.
Right after you wake up, and before someone else’s hand pulls your trigger, unplug. Power-cycle your thoughts, your emotions, your breath, so that YOU can be the one to set your intention for your day. You be the one to decide how you want to feel, who you want to be, what you want to do. You be the one to decide how you will react, by first deeply, authentically, tapping into who you really are.
You will be amazed by what fun you can have when you are the one plunking in your own quarter; when you are the one determining what bright, colorful and musical path you take; and when you are the one to reap the entire mind-blowing jackpot of winnings from the magical arcade of your life.
Polo REO Tate was born in Lansing, Michigan, where her family has deep ties to the community. Her Great Great Grandfather was Ransom Eli Olds (R.E. Olds), a pioneer and prolific inventor most notably responsible for inventing the first internal combustion automobile—the Oldsmobile. Growing up, [...]