Lavender Mindfulness

By on December 6, 2014

My front yard is a sea of lavender. It takes a keen eye and a gentle hand to extract the slender reeds of green grass from the purple waves. I am sitting on my front porch, sipping iced water, marveling at the pile of weeds in the wheelbarrow, accumulated by gentle tugging over the last hour. The satisfaction is palpable. As I sit here, the story I heard on NPR radio pops into mind.

I was standing at my sink yesterday, rinsing three flats of succulent ruby ripe strawberries, preparing them for my freezer. “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me” was my NPR radio companion. My ears perked up to the question, “a lady from Japan sued her husband for divorce for this reason” Several guesses later it was revealed that the woman in question had gone to the Disney movie, “Frozen”, and afterward her husband commented that the movie was not his all time favorite. She told him they needed to get divorced immediately because there must be something seriously wrong with him to feel that way. Their families suggested counseling.

After our laughter dissolves, haven’t we all felt that way at some time or another about our partners? At one moment we are in peace sitting on our front porch, and our partner comes out the door and asks,” did you get all of your trash out of your car so I can vacuum it out?” Seriously? Thought: “Don’t you see the wheelbarrow full of grass and weeds?” Shoulders tighten, neck stiffens. “No, I haven’t had a chance.”

The sense of disconnect happens at the speed of milliseconds. Tone of voice alters ever so slightly. I hear one simple sentence and my physiology alters, preparing for offense. Does this mean I am inadequate, not good enough? Does it mean he is insensitive for not noticing my accomplishment and therefore could not possibly love me? It would be so satisfying if I could “extract” this moment like grass from the lavender. I don’t want to feel this way about him and yet I do. I want him to know how he disturbed my reverie, but it seems hardly worth the dialogue. I want to be crazy in love with him, like the velvety red roses, swaying lavender and fading poppies, the way we felt when we first encountered each other. How can I feel this way, so suddenly, just like the woman leaving the movie, Frozen?

It is because our physiologies are monitoring constantly for threat. Any signal of “difference” clicks our autonomic nervous system to orient to something new and novel and instantaneously appraise for safety or danger. My rational mind tells me he is trying to be helpful, and my shoulders and neck tell me I am inadequate. I feel as crazy as the poor lady from Japan.

I have to change my physiology before I can change my view. I place my feet flat on the ground, bring my awareness to my breath, and gently repeat quietly in my own mind,

“May I be at ease, may I be content with my life, may I feel joy, may I feel safe and secure.”

“May he be at ease, that he be content with his life, that he experience joy, that he feel safe and secure.”

My shoulders relax, he sits down beside me on the porch bench and I touch him in the middle of his back and tell him, “I love you, thank you for all that you do.”

The moment transforms and I am in love with him again and we enjoy the garden together.

Katherine Calvert Counseling is a private practice led by Katherine Calvert, LCSW. Katherine Calvert has built her practice from decades of education and applied experience working as a direct service provider in schools, hospitals, and counseling clinics. She holds a Masters in Social Work, is trained in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), Imago Therapy, and Sensorimotor Psychotherapy. Her practice is a warm, safe and inviting space in the Portland, Oregon area.