My story begins when I was 14 years old. I found myself seated on a firm, round cushion in a sunny room at the Boulder Shambhala Center. A couple of my friends had invited me to join them for Shambhala Warrior training, and I gladly accepted.
I sat as straight as I could, inhaling through my nose and focusing on my breath. The teacher had instructed us that when thoughts arose, we should simply label them as “thinking” and then return our focus to our breath.
While sitting there, I squirmed a bit on the cushion but followed the instructor’s advice. However, I noticed that some thoughts required my attention. Instead of cutting them off midstream, I followed them to their conclusion and then returned to my breath.
By relaxing the rules of this meditation, I made room for myself to explore and trust my own inner wisdom. This is what I wish for you!
This same principle can be applied to wedding planning. There are so many people, blogs, websites, and magazines telling you the “must-dos,” “never forgets,” “how-tos,” and “best ways.” The cacophony of external voices can really cloud our own inner knowing.
For most of us, wedding planning is an addition to our already packed daily lives. Even if you hire a wedding planner, you still have to make decisions (often expensive ones), manage the expectations of family and friends, and nurture your relationship with your partner during this transformative period of personal growth that accompanies this life transition.
It’s likely that you won’t be grounded and present throughout the entire planning process (spoiler alert!). My hope is that when you find your head spinning from the demands, decisions, and “to-dos,” you can return to yourself through these practices.
1.Dance with your partner – I enjoyed practicing ballroom dancing with my fiancé for several reasons. First, it prepared us for our first dance, which gave me a sense of accomplishment. More importantly, it allowed us to spend quality time together, fully present in the moment, communicating both verbally and nonverbally, and deepening our connection.
2. Take a walk – Whether alone or together, walking in nature reminds us of the expansiveness of our lives, connects us to natural rhythms, and provides exercise (a natural stress reducer). I particularly enjoy walking with my partner when we need to discuss important matters. Conversations during a walk feel different than when we’re sitting face to face. Physical movement in the same direction helps us feel aligned, even if we’re not yet on the same page. Moreover, the bilateral movement and steady breathing are known to soothe emotions arising from emotionally charged topics. It allows for more thoughtful responses rather than impulsive reactions.
3. Visualize what you want – This was one of the most effective tools I used during the planning process. Visualization involves using your mind to picture things. Science shows that when you visualize something, it activates the same neural pathways as when you actually experience it. I initially learned this technique as a competitive gymnast and coach. It’s widely used in sports, extensively studied, and can be a valuable tool for your wedding planning.
My now-husband Frank and I had been engaged for about nine months and had already chosen a venue and sent out Save the Dates. We had given ourselves a year and a half to plan the wedding, knowing that it would be challenging during the school year since we were both teachers. Unexpectedly, one week before the start of school, our venue had to cancel. You can imagine my shock and disappointment. After months of planning, we were essentially back to square one. I could have cried and freaked out, and I probably did a little. However, I then sat down, calmed my mind, and asked my partner to join me in visualizing where we would be on our wedding day. To my surprise, we both had the same vision - we were surrounded by trees. So when we had a site visit with a potential venue and walked into the amphitheater in a forest of pine trees, we knew we'd found our place!
4. Talk to someone who’s not connected to the wedding – This could be a wedding doula, a trusted friend, or a vendor skilled at listening and keeping their own agenda and emotions in check. This person can serve as a sounding board for your thoughts, ask clarifying questions, and offer advice from a completely neutral perspective. This role can be challenging for many of your closest friends and family because they often carry their own emotions and expectations about your impending nuptials.
If you need someone to talk to, please know that I’m here for you. I genuinely enjoy supporting people through this significant life transition. You can visit my website for ways to get in touch. Sometimes, asking for help is the most challenging part, but you’ll feel so much better afterward!