You can do anything for 10 seconds
I recently started watching Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. It’s a series about a young woman who is rescued from a cult in Indiana and sets off to create a new life in New York City. I’ve only seen three episodes, but I’m keen on Kimmy. She’s possessed by a combination of extreme naiveté and intense optimism.
One of the things Kimmy learned in her cult captivity was to endure intense boredom and monotony. Though she doesn’t share her bizarre past life with her new friends in NYC, she does share jewels of wisdom from her cult-life, like her regularly doled out advice, “You can do anything for 10 seconds.” She says this to herself and to other people in her life who seem to be unable to manage whatever situation they are in.
Ten seconds is not very long. It’s the time it takes to turn on the water tap and fill a glass of water. It’s writing a quick grocery list in the morning or bringing in the mail. It’s about the length of time it takes to inhale in Pranayama deep breathing.
In life, we don’t have control over much. Shit happens. The other night I saw a friend who’s long-term relationship suddenly ended. She was shocked, bewildered, and heart broken. She had no control over the break up, it just happened and now she was slowly blinking her way out of the wreckage. What I said to her, which is what a kind soul offered me when I was in a similar situation many years ago, was “all feelings pass.” It helped me and I hope it helps her. In times of deep sorrow, crazed anger, or intense fear, I told myself, “this is a temporary feeling. I will not be here forever. It will pass.” And the feelings did pass. They came back with great regularity, like the garbage truck every Thursday, but they also didn’t stay, and eventually, I got through it, ten seconds at time.
Sometimes the experiences we think we can’t endure are short, like when Half-Moon pose feels like it is going to go on for 30 minutes. Break it down. Remind yourself, as Kimmy would, “You can do anything for ten seconds.” And once those ten seconds are over, you’re onto a new feeling, different sensations. Other times, the struggles are longer, harder — a break up, the loss of a job, a death. It’s the same game plan — break it down. Take a deep breath and give yourself time and space for things to shift. Even in the worst of times, remind yourself that you can do anything for ten seconds.