I had all these thoughts while I was sitting there in my car; why didn't I just stay near the dentist and have some late lunch? I could have gone shopping and leisurely walked around World Market, or maybe found an alternate route down to Culver City so I could have dinner with my husband after he got off work.
But I kept coming back to the same thing. "No point in imagining the what-ifs. I am here now. There is no getting out of it..."
Seriously, no way out. I was stuck.
And just as I was thinking that, an ad came on the radio - which up until that point had been going straight in one ear and out the other. I couldn't even enjoy my favorite songs. - Some local news channel was going to monitor one woman's heart rate/vitals during her daily commute to see how the stress of driving in LA impacted her health.
And there I was sitting in my car, heart beating so hard in my chest I thought for sure you could see it, and I remembered that I have more control that I was allowing myself.
After unfurrowing my brow (it's a daily battle against aging), I took a slow intentional inhale - felt the air enter and fill my entire body - followed it up with an easy relaxing exhale, and repeated.
With each slow and intentional breath, I could actually feel my heart beat slow. It stopped pounding with such ferocity and settled back into my chest.
I was almost on the freeway now. With each lane that merged with ours, traffic moved a little bit faster. Once I was actually on the freeway, I was home in less than half an hour.
I know I've talked about the power of breath before - how in our most stressful times, we can take a mental step backwards, shut off our brains for a moment and revitalize ourselves with breath, but yesterday was one of the purest reminders of that. Even when we feel totally out of control, we can bring ourselves back to center.