The Zen Before the Storm


A dog does not need to be reminded to just be. ๐Ÿ™‚

Hurricane Sandy’s heading toward us and it’s rush, rush, rush.

Stock up. Clear the storm drains. Bring in firewood. Find the transistor radio and flashlights. Replace the batteries. Can’t find the right batteries. Back to the store for more batteries. And whatever bread is left on the shelf. Just in case. Check the news. Check the radar. Yell at the kids to stop shouting out every time one of their friends announces via Facebook that their school is closed for the day.

The list goes on and on. And we are in our default mode: constant movement. Always on, always connected, always thinking, always doing, always talking. Too busy to face reality. Because we don’t want to face reality.

We can fill our cupboards but we can’t stop Sandy’s track. We can close our schools and watch the special reports on the news every fifteen minutes but we can’t know whether Sandy suddenly will change course and head directly at us or away from us before she hits land.

If we stop moving, stop doing all the stuff we’re doing, we’ll have to feel what it feels like to be in a state of limbo. Will it hit hard? That’s unclear. Will we be in danger? Also unclear. Will we be able to keep ourselves and our families and our friends out of harm’s way? Hope so, but we have no idea.

At some point, when we’ve done everything we can think of, when we are sick of constantly checking the slow-moving radar, when we’ve driven our kids to their friend’s houses so they can wake up and weather the storm without us while eating all the Halloween candy already purchased despite the probability that it will be pouring rain on October 31st, we will have no choice but to stop.

And this is when we can take advantage of something incredibly simple but extraordinarily difficult. We can be still. We can breathe in and breathe out. No need to do any fancy yoga poses or pranayama breathing. Just sit down or lay down or walk or stand and bring air into your body and let air out.

Pet the dog. Make yourself a cup of tea or a glass of wine. Listen to music you love. Curl up under an afghan by the fire. Read that novel that you keep meaning to read but end up closing your eyes and falling asleep each night before you make it through a couple of pages. Do a puzzle on the dining room table. Draw. Dance. Daydream. Go up to bed early. With your spouse.

An amazing thing happens when you stop focusing on getting things done to prepare for what might be: you get to enjoy your life in the moment. You suddenly have time to smile, to see, to feel, to be.

There are many people I know who are uncomfortable with being still (hi honey!) but that discomfort is based on the cultural belief that we are at our best when we’re getting things done.

With the storm approaching, the governor warning people to stay put during the storm, you get to give this zen thing a try, even if you don’t believe it is who you are. But the thing about zen is that it is not really about defining you. It is about allowing yourself the freedom to be in the flow of the universe, about delighting in the basic miracle of life itself.

I know that when it is put in front of me directly I will always choose to live now over planning for living later. That doesn’t mean not caring about the future. What it means is that when the future becomes my now, I will be able to enjoy it rather than waste all of my energy planning for what comes next.

How about you? What will you choose?


I write about daily life, arts & culture, food, books, nature, animals, parenting, relationships, self-discovery, & more.

I'd love to hear what you think. Share in the comments section at the bottom of the page.

Please share my posts with your friends by clicking on the FB, Twitter, or email share buttons found below. And if you like what you've read, click on the Facebook like button.

You won't miss a post if you sign up to receive my musings by email (see the sidebar on this page).

Latest posts by Sara (see all)

17 thoughts on “The Zen Before the Storm

    1. Keep the good thoughts coming. We probably won’t get it as bad as those in Maryland, DC, NJ, NY but being on the ocean means possible flooding especially for those not a mile away like we are. ๐Ÿ™

      1. *Waves from Maryland*

        Erm. Yeah. Work got cancelled, the tree outside is blowing every which way, and it’s pouring. So we’re hunkered down, me with my agent-requested revisions and Spouse with Boardwalk Empire. We’ve got a full pot of lentil stew, a couple gallons of water in the fridge, and plenty to keep us entertained.

        Plenty of worries for later, but for now I’m on your side with this one. Let Sandy come; I’ll be up to my nose in my book.

  1. I just had a ‘do nothing’ day yesterday and was debating about whether or not I should feel guilty about it. Thanks for helping me reframe it into a ‘day of being’ instead. ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Glad to be of assistance. Do nothing days are necessary, I think. And thanks for the FB repost. I really appreciate it. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. I usually follow follow follow until I get to a point where I just can’t take it anymore. It would be best if I could get to that point a lot sooner then I do ~ but it takes me a bit to realize that I’m living or preparing for what may or may not happen.

    Working on it.

    So much better to be in the moment.

    It may stem from being told that you’re lazy if you’re sitting around or the “if there’s time to lean, there’s time to clean” mentality. Sad… and hard to break from.

    Anyway, stay safe!! Ommmmmmmm…

    1. Ohmmmm. . . I’m also a Zen work in progress. Our culture hits us with some pretty strong anti-Zen dogma, so figuring out what is best is not an easy task. My windows are rattling from the wind as I write. . .

  3. Years ago, when I was studying massage, one of my teachers had a great saying, “We are human beings, NOT human doings”. That thought is always in the back of my mind, yet I still face the constant challenge that you described above.

    I hope you enjoy your Zen, and stay safe and sound!!

    1. Great quote! I forgot you studied massage. Do you still practice? It is a constant challenge but the reminders help bring me back to what it is all about. If only there were an app to remind me a few times each day. Hope all is well with you. I’m guessing the weather there is warm and lovely. Yes?

      1. That would be a great app – need to look into that! I don’t practice massage – haven’t for a while, but still am holding on to the massage table just in case…

        And yesterday, the weather was warm/hot and sunny – though today we’re socked in with fog – so at the moment, it feels like Fall and looks like Halloween.

        How did you all fare the storm? I was thinking about you a lot!

  4. I like how you put this: “the cultural belief that we are at our best when weโ€™re getting things done.” I am definitely guilty of this – and of feeling guilty for not always going, going, going. Of not getting everything done. While I don’t envy the danger you’re all in with this storm, I do envy the down time you’ve been (forced to take) given. I hope you and your family are safe. Do be in touch to keep us all posted on how you’re doing.

    1. We had a lot of heavy rain and 60-70 mph winds, but other than lots of downed limbs and some boats (not ours) thrown up on the rocks, we were spared any major destruction. I feel for those South of us who were hit a lot harder.

      The whole cultural belief about getting things done is so confusing. I believe it is important to get things done but I don’t think it should be the driving force in our daily life and work. It takes a whole lot of something (strength) to step out into a way of approaching the world and your days that is not the way you’ve always been taught and expected to behave. But the Zen way feels right to me, so I’m slowly trying to put some of it’s guideposts into my daily life. Not saying it’s working real well, though. YET.

  5. Made it to yoga today – it had been a few weeks, and oh, how nice it was to be back in that space! It’s so easy to slip out of the habit of going, but for me, such an important part of emotional health and sanity. I’m a much nicer person to be around when I do yoga regularly!

So what do you think?