How to Be a Zen Bride

If you were Danger, you would probably think I am the LAST bride on earth to give advice on being zen. Just a couple days ago he calmly watched me ugly-cry in the HEB parking lot because I wasn’t able to talk to a florist about my flowers. That lasted about an hour, and was only quieted with his patient words and gift of dark chocolate covered cashews (insta-bliss).

I had planned to publish this post about wedding stress, looming changes, premarital panic attacks, et cetera, but changed my mind at the last minute. You see, I just got home from a day-long “Advanced Mindfulness” seminar, where we talked zen and meditation and de-stressing for hours. We did five different meditations, one of which I’m fairly certain I slept through and stayed sitting up. Go me!

Anyway, I left this seminar with these calming conclusions:

1. I spend most of my day half-breathing, which perpetuates the fight-or-flight mode, which means my body cranks out more stress hormones than it needs to. If I take a few minutes throughout the day to breathe with 100% of my lungs, I restart my brain and stress takes a plunge. Granted, it spikes 30 minutes later when I remember I have to argue with a vendor or – GASP – pay my credit card bill, but the nice thing that I can pause and do deep breathing again. Turns out you can use your lungs 24/7 at no cost to you! I love a good bargain.

2. I spend a lot of time now, and pre-engagement, focused on the details. I plan and plan and plan because it makes me feel in control (read: safe). But because I’m always planning for the future, I miss being really present in the moment. I live in my head, and not on planet earth which is where all the good stuff is. This tendency went into hyper-drive after our engagement, leaving my head spinning most days. The solution? SLOW DOWN. TAKE A DEEP BREATH. And remember: I’m marrying the love of my life in 32 days. As long as we have a priest, a witness and a church, we’re good to go. The details don’t matter.

3. I spend a lot of time focusing on the negative: what I don’t have, what I can’t do, what I shouldn’t be doing… I waste many hours on this, and all it really does is turn me into a grumpy gills. The solution to this? Gratitude. I made a list today of all I was thankful for, and I ran out of room on my paper! I am so blessed beyond measure, but I don’t realize it because I’m too busy moping about my glass that’s only partially filled with liquid. When really, I should be thankful that there’s any liquid at all! Or that I even have a glass! Or that I have the consciousness to be aware of said glass! So when wedding stress bums me out, gratitude sets me back in a positive, thankful mindset.

All that being said, I’m still stressed. But now it feels manageable, not cry-in-the-parking-lot-for-an-hour kind of stressed. So if you are a bride in distress, or anyone stressin’, try these out and see if they work for you. If anything, take this all to God, the Creator who gave you the lungs to practice deep breathing, the brain power to pause and reflect on Him, the people who love you, the sun that warms you, and the opposable thumbs to open chocolate wrappers and operate wine bottle openers. He is so good. He is peace.

stone with text

Photo taken by author at Eagles Wings Retreat Center in Burnet, TX.

  • Shawn Chapman

    This is great. I love it! :)