APRIL 8, 2020
We have 80,000 to 100,000 thoughts a day. I am not sure how science has figured this out and it resonates with me that we have A LOT of them each and every day. Our minds become absorbed in the past and project off into the future. We have recurring thoughts and recurring emotions. We even project our thoughts to fit our pattern of emotions.
My mind has taken some very interesting twists and turns and full on snowballs during these last few weeks. Yes I have seen moments of wonder and been filled with gratitude and I have also seen us lose our house. I have felt the loss of knowing someone who dies from this. I have wept for the world. I have kept going until I can no longer take a proper breath. Wait is that Covid-19? I have wanted to crawl under the covers and disappear. I have felt helpless and hopeless.
Often when we are in these spirals our actions match the roller coaster ride. These are the moments I go to the John Hopkins website to see all the new cases. I fixate on the worst ones I can find. I look at the global trauma and tragedies and I bring them really close to my heart and then create a whole new set of concerns that don’t even exist.
Here’s the thing, (and yes I am clearly speaking to myself too) you don’t know how this will go or how this will end. Predict away. You might be close to exactly right and you might be so far off the mark. There are infinite possibilities and getting lost in your worst case scenarios are less than helpful. Even though we all know this, what do we do?
The moment you notice the mind taking off, STOP. Pause and notice something here and now. What are you doing? If you are pouring a glass of water, then notice how the cup feels in your hand. Notice the taste of the water in your mouth. Listen, see, explore, this very moment. Bring yourself back to here. If you are anything like me you will need to practice stopping a lot. A LOT. And that’s ok.
2) Feel the feels. All of them.
And it’s ok to feel horrible. It’s ok to be angry, or sad, or happy, or bland. It’s ok to feel anything and everything. I think that is an important part of being here now. Feel it. Let it rise up and be held. But don’t keep holding. Let it go. Just like we have a tendency to cling to our thoughts we also have a tendency to cling to our emotions. We hold on to the grief and then we start finding even more things to grieve about. Real things. Imagined things.
The Guest House
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
— Jellaludin Rumi,
All of it. Every part of it. Feel it. Every emotion belongs. With arms open wide we say yes to what needs to arrive. We open the door of our hearts and welcome the emotion in.
It is not easy to welcome all emotions. When an intense emotion/thought/or sensation arrives up you may want to use the R.A.I.N technique. I recommend this over escaping or hiding or any of the other things that might be your go to. I have several. When I choose not to be with something it has a way of coming back around a wee bit or even a lot bit louder than the first time!
Recognize what is happening.
What are you feeling/noticing/experiencing in this moment? Right now?
It can be helpful to mentally name it, for example, “I am feeling overwhelmed.” or “I am angry”. This act of recognizing how you are feeling can open up inner space as well as create a space between you and the feeling.
Allow it to be
Acknowledge and accept. The temptation to flee from this emotion may be very strong. The impulse to push away, to suppress, or to ignore can be a common reaction. When you resist the rawness and the unpleasantness of the feeling, you withdraw from the present moment. If you feel safe to be here then see if you can allow this experience to occur. As you do so you may immediately feel a softening. Play the edge of the emotion without going over the edge. You may find it helpful to welcome it in or to say yes to its arrival. We are allowing what needs to arrive to arise. We are welcoming in any visitor.
Investigate with kindness
Once you allow you can look at things with a new lens that embraces a gentle curiosity. You notice. What is this? What’s happening? Where do I feel it? What most wants attention? What am I believing? What is this emotion telling me?
Get detailed. Put on your yogi detective glasses and discover where the associated physical sensation is that comes with this emotion. What are you feeling? What is your breath like? Your heart rate? You might notice that there is increased tension arriving into your jaw, your neck, your shoulders.
Take the emotion and notice what it feels like in your whole body and how it shows up.
“For example – if you are feeling fear, notice what fear feels like: ‘my breath is shorter and choppy; my shoulders are tense; my thoughts are foggy and I can’t focus.’ Don’t judge these sensations as good or bad and don’t try to change them; just observe them as they are. -Bernie Clark
You are not your mind. You are not your thoughts. Recognise this. You are experiencing a temporary state. You might be hanging out here for awhile and you can sit with this emotion. Remember that everything is always changing. Everything. All the time.
3) Do what you can from where you are to offer healing and love.
This is such an important step. Each step we can take with love will offer support and comfort. Each kind and generous thing we do for ourselves and we do for another makes a difference.
Yoga. Keep practicing. Food. Eat well. Stay hydrated. Go for a walk. Journal. Stay connected. Reach out to friends and family. Support our local businesses. Go shopping for a friend. Sing. Dance. Read a book. Have a bath. Brainstorm a number of activities and then choose to incorporate them into your day. You may find it helpful to create a schedule. We are used to fitting in so many things in a day and this is now an opportunity to ensure we fit love in. If you have resistance know that is normal too. If you find that you are doing everything you can at the moment to simply survive, know that what you are doing is solid and more than enough. There is no pressure to prove anything. There is just an offering to be with all things and to notice what you are choosing to be with.
Following these 3 steps can make a huge difference in your day. Every day is an opportunity to show up and be here. It is normal to be pulled away. It is exceptional to bring yourself back. Go gentle. Go so very gentle. I know I will. This is your time. This is our time. You got this. We got this.
Love, love, love,