I was asked by a neighbor the other day how I was doing? What started as a casual inquiry suddenly felt like a loaded question as I paused, looked at the sidewalk and returned her gaze. I gave her a generic answer of “Okay, I guess” before I continued to my car. I sat in the driveway and felt the dread in my stomach building before I pressed a station on my radio and turned up an eighties dance song. As I pulled away from my house, I began to say my blessings out loud and gave thanks for all that I had. I didn’t feel any better, but more often than not this habit initially stops or lowers the volume of negativity in my head and I am able to redirect myself with the help of my affirmations and the music blasting.
Every day I am challenged to keep my heart open and my breathing full. Like many of you reading this if you’ve been around long enough, we’re finding ourselves dipping into our reserves of grace to stay present and active. In talking with my clients and others, we are all using our mantra’s, breathing deeply into our bellies and keeping our fitness goals just to be able to stay confident and aware. Every day, and unfairly so, we are learning to devour more horrific news expanding our capacity for being uncomfortable and releasing it all back into the luminous universe when we get a chance.
A practice that my guru taught me has become very necessary throughout my days. Whenever a disturbing thought starts gathering steam in my head, I focus on it first releasing any ownership to its place in my brain. Secondly, I take a deep breath into my solar plexus connecting the thought to the breath. Thirdly I then exhale, escorting the thought out of my awareness on the out breath. This exercise has been part of my “toolbox” for some time. It’s only in the last year or so been a mainstay of how I cope. After a while, the anxiety-inducing thoughts stop showing up as much as they use to and they don’t stick around.
So whatever you may use to free yourself of daily dramas know that you’re in good company and that when you stay for extended periods in awareness, that which used to take you down will, in the end, make you stronger.
John Shinavier, MA, Life/Career Coach