Coping Skills for the Intelligent Mind

People are always asking me about strategies for coping with issues in life. It is only since I moved back to Ohio when I began to come across some very good ones while being in private practice. The first one is Mindfulness Meditation, which I mention on this blog frequently in different articles. More recently, I began to pick up some new ideas in my personal life which made me decide to write about it. This has to do with hobbies as a way of relaxing, emptying your mind, and letting go. As I myself have been doing meditation for more then 30 years and still have a hard time “emptying my mind,” the hobby of putting together puzzles became a surprise to me one day.

I had purchased a puzzle for my step-grandson for the holidays. While doing so, I saw another one that looked cute for adults. Part of the title of the puzzle was the name of my street, so I thought to get it for fun. It became a journey for me. Not only was it 1500 small pieces (I figured I should get something big, since I am an adult and more capable than a child of doing this), but as I am an older woman I was rotating between a magnifying glass and reading glasses to put this together. It took me a week to do and luckily it was the holidays because I had no idea what happened to the time. I found myself focusing on this for several hours a day. I am quite sure I could not do meditation for longer than 30 minutes, maybe an hour in group but that is stretching it. I completely forgot it was Christmas Eve (when I began this puzzle) and that no one had showed up for my gathering. “Oh well,” I thought, back to the puzzle. Normally, I would have seen something like this as a case for depressive thoughts. The “Oh woe is me,” game.

The photo on the box was too small, so I went to look online and see if I could get a bigger photo somehow to print out. Too my surprise, this puzzle came from a young woman’s book. There were others in the series too! Not only this, it was based on my favorite fairytale as a young girl, “The Twelve Dancing Princesses.” So, I thought I would buy it and see what it was all about.

The book was delightful and while I was reading about teen girls, their wisdom and maturity did not make it seem like this. It took place in Transylvania (not really about vampires – Thank Goodness!) and it was in the 1800’s I believe. I read the book within a few nights and of course this helped with the puzzle too. I admired the picture so much more. I think you are beginning to see that it brought out the young girl in me as well.

It was after a few days of doing the puzzle that it suddenly occurred to me that this had been better than meditation. I had heard about doing gardening for meditation, and while I love the rewards of flowers and healthy vegetables, it is certainly nothing more than hard work to me. Mowing the grass is a bit of a chore too, only makes me think about more work I need to do in the back or front yards of my house. Therapists and other psychological professionals always talk about getting a hobby but even I looked askance because it was something I did as a child. But I am a big girl now! Anyway, I was a stamp collector as a child and uninterested in this now. Besides, back then, I had no idea people actually collected stamps by purchasing and sticking them in books. I had plenty of pen pals and my father was from Eastern Europe, so I had plenty to choose from. Not so now, with email. It also didn’t interest me anymore. I have travelled quite a bit, so no need to fantasize.

If puzzles are not your thing, I have learned some other ideas from clients. As I began talking to them, they started thinking of fun things as a child. Some guys talked about building model cars. Of course doing it now when there was “No free time,” reminded me of what I used to think. There is time if you make time. One gentleman talked to me about making cables as a hobby. He was afraid his wife might be disturbed by the time he spent doing it. I asked him if he had asked her about this. It is important not to assume what a partner is thinking, I tell my clients. Maybe they don’t mind you doing one thing while they are doing another. A grandparent I had growing up made puzzles while he wife was doing crosswords or watching a program on TV.

Another client had a show piece ship inside of a bottle. He took that darn thing out and cleaned it really well before putting it back in again. Now that takes concentration. It has been a long time since I heard of a guy working on putting ships in bottles. I thought that was a great idea for meditation. It was a piece of pride because it was his fathers.

What type of hobby helps you to meditate? Share your thoughts below. Never let something get in the way of bringing peace into your life. Meditation is a great stress reliever, no matter how you do it.


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