There are times in life when everything seems to go wrong. And you wonder how to persevere.
Miscommunication leads to problems.
Things break in the house and in the office.
Cars need repairs.
Friends leave or die.
Family problems arise.
Health is challenged.
Kids catch bugs and need extra care.
Job is threatened.
Bureaucratic errors occur.
Systems you rely on break down.
Procedures go wrong.
Internet is gone.
Orders go miss.
And so on.
There are mental, emotional and physical challenges. On all levels. And you feel as if run by a truck.
The winds of difficulties blow in your face and they blow strong. There is an emotional turmoil. There is so much work but despite all the work you do, there is hardly any progress. Whatever you touch to manage, correct or handle, things don’t improve and often become worse. You take action but the results are little or even adverse.
And then you begin to wonder.
How am I going to handle this all? How am I going to persevere?
Has this ever happened to you?
You are not alone. Welcome to the Club 😉
Breathe it out and persevere
If sudden events come to your life, the first thing is to pause and breathe. Especially, the out-breath is important. Please follow the Red ribbon exercise. This simple focus on breath forces your Conscious Self to be present in the moment. And this gives you the control back.
The clustering of challenging events has always intrigued me. How is it possible that they come one after another?
Surprisingly, even if I think that I can’t handle them any more, I do. Even when I get kicked-off my balance, hurt, torn and misplaced, I am back to my center. I persevere.
I was originally poor at facing life challenges and my usual tactic was to close down, get depressed, sit in the self-pity pit and complain. With years of my conscious growth, however, I have become better and better at handling life setbacks.
I still get hit. I am still overwhelmed. And I still get hurt. Yet, after the initial shock or surprise, I find my peace and begin action from within. This is because I’ve developed practices that allow me to regain my balance and re-define my center. And I want to share them with you.
There are two main learning points with respect to your calmness and peace in the eye of a tornado. The first learning point is that the overall balance and feeling in control strongly depends on the centering and balancing of your physical body. And you can learn to practise that. Secondly, your mental and emotional balance depends on an undisturbed flow of emotions and practising detachment. This can be learned as well.
Practice I. Physical center and balance
Staying balanced and centered refers to a basic position in marital arts. Balance is attained when the weight of the body is distributed evenly, right and left, forward and back,all the way from head to the toes. Center is practised when the bodily awareness is concentrated at the center of the abdomen, say 2cm below the navel. All movement is initiated from the center.
Exercise. Regain your center and balance.
1. Warm up.
Stand tall, feet parallel, slightly wider than at shoulder width, knees slightly bent. Warm up your body with little stretching exercises. This should take 5min and is not meant as a warming-up to a demanding exercising session. This warming up is meant for you to 1) bring your awareness to the body, 2) get the feeling of various parts of the body and 3) exercise flexibility of movement. It is not necessary though.
You can choose any warming up exercises you know. For instance, you can do the following:
- Rotations of joints. Flex, extend, and rotate each of the joints: fingers, wrists, elbows, shoulders, neck, trunk, hips, knees, ankles, feet and toes.
- Neck movements. Repeat 3-5x.
- Tuck your chin into your chest, and then lift your chin upward as far as possible.
- Lower your left ear toward your left shoulder and then your right ear to your right shoulder.
- Turn your chin toward your left shoulder and then slowly rotate it toward your right shoulder.
- Shoulder flexibility. Repeat 3-5x. Raise your left shoulder towards your left ear, take it backwards, down and then up again to the ear. Make smooth circles in both directions. Repeat it for the right shoulder.
- Arm swings. Repeat 5x. Swing both arms continuously to a position above your head, then forward, down, and backwards. Then swing both arms out to your sides.
- Side bends. Repeat 3-5x. With hands on your hips, bend smoothly first to one side, and then to the other. Avoid leaning forward or backward.
- Forward bends. Repeat 3-5x.
- Hip circles. Repeat 5x in every direction. With hands on your hips, make circles with your hips in a clockwise direction, followed by an anticlockwise direction.
- Leg swings. Repeat 5x. Put the weight on your left foot. Swing your right leg forward and backward. Repeat for the other leg.
2. Find your balance.
Stand tall on the ground with a straight spine, feet a shoulder apart, parallel to each other. Eyes are facing forward, shoulders flexible and knees bent just a little bit. You feel connected to the ground. You stand securely imagining your feet being strong as roots of an oak tree. Arms hang loosely at your sides.
Now, distribute your weight evenly. This sounds easy but may be difficult to attain.
Feet. Stand with feet a shoulder apart, parallel to each other. Spread the weight equally between the legs. Keep shifting weight from one foot to the other until you find where the middle point is. Then stop.
Knees. Keep knees bent a bit. You should feel firmly attached to the ground yet flexible, prepared to move if needed.
Head. Keep your head straight, facing forward. Imagine a flexible cord attached to the middle point of your skull. Since the tendency of many people is to slouch or look down, the goal of this imaginative cord is to pull you up. Check that your chin is parallel to the ground. Your spine needs to be straight and your head needs to be an extension of your spine. This is where the pull of the cord is.
Why is it important to keep the head in this position? A head weights usually between 4.5 and 6kg. It is a heavy burden on both the atlas and axis, the first two cervical vertebra of the spine, where the head rests. A misalignment on this level carries on through the whole spine and usually results in various subluxations which lead to misalignments in the body. A proper position of the head can be attained through a conscious practice. Alternatively, you may need a help from an osteopath or chiropractor.
Shoulders. Keep your shoulder blades down. They need to support the spine yet remain flexible. Check they are aligned.
Hips. Imagine your hips are a bucket full of water. Move your hips forward and backward and to the sides. Your goal is to find a position where no water is lost from the bucket.
Being a tree. Imagine yourself as a tree, with strong roots (feet) and branches (your head and spine) extending to heaven. You are like a birch tree, well rooted and still, but flexible.
3. Regain your center.
Bring awareness to the middle of your abdomen. Tap lightly with your fingers on the abdomen. You can place the palm of your hand there to feel how it is rising with your breath. Take an in-breath that begin to feel the abdomen rising. Imagine how air nourishes you through all the organs moving out through capillaries of your limbs. Imagine your out-breath coming from your limbs.
Remain in this position for 5min or as long as comfortable. Focus on your breath.
Practice II. Detachment
I imagine emotions as energy currents or waves. In the challenging time, emotions come suddenly and in strong waves. There is often disappointment, anger or feeling of injustice. There may be hurt, grief, pain or terror.
The natural working of emotions is to flow through your body. If you maintain the flow, you allow all emotions to be expressed in respectful ways. When the flow is blocked, a tension is created which will seek its own way out in the less convenient way, perhaps as health problems.
It is only holding them back, or riding on them kicks us out of the balance and out of the middle way. We become too much one-sided. We may be swayed by the strong waves and allow them to carry us. In doing so, we become submissive and loose control. As a result, we are weak an powerless.
Detach: look at your life from above
The first conscious act is to say “Stop”. Take the control back. Start thinking about the emotions. Recognize what they are and name them. By engaging your thinking, an emotion looses its strong impact. The next act is to detach from what is happening. It may sound difficult but it is actually simple and working fast when you remember to practise it.
Exercise. Make a break.
Leave your living place for at least a day, possibly a few days or a week. Physical distance forces a distant view on your life.
Find what s the strongest feeling in you in this very moment. Name it. Write it down if you like. Find the though behind this feeling. Which thought gave birth to this feeling? Write it down in one sentence. Now, go another step back. What was the intention behind the thought? What is the source of the though? What was the motivation? What was your need?
In doing so, by the very naming of emotion – thought – intention, you give it a shape and make the generating process conscious. It gives you both understanding and control. Practice it.
Exercise. Football field.
Imagine a football field (baseball, basketball or any other sport game field). You are like a player on the field when you are strongly engaged with your emotions. You have only a limited view of what is happening on the field, near to you. You are involved in the fight, in the kick, jump or run. You have a partial understanding. This is how your life is int he moment. How does it feel now?
Imagine now that you are a fan sitting on the chair above looking at the game. Now you can see the whole field, where the ball is, who taking actions, who is the best to give a ball to and so on. You gain a perspective. Now, imagine that this is the way you look at your life, just taking a view from above so that you, your house, your work becomes a view from, say, 10-20m from above (the 5-7th floor of a building). Now you can observe yourself from the perspective of a fan observing the game. How does it feel?
Finally, imagine that you are a commentator sitting at the high, far above the field. You not only see the players and the field but also the fans. There are clear patterns. Actions clusters, behavior is repeated. beautifulYou can observe.
Now take this metaphor to see your life from the perspective far above, say even from an airplane. You become small, nearly insignificant and in one glimpse you see the whole town and your life. There are beautiful colors, patches and patterns, Things happen but somehow slowly. There is peace to it and a higher order. You understand.
Practice III. Enhance flow: release emotions
Emotions need to be expressed. They are our natural meter of what is happening to us. We can feel excited, happy, joyful, or uplifted. Similarly, we can feel angry, fearful, disappointed, hurt, terrified or powerless.
Emotions flow through the body. If you feel happy, you smile or laugh, your eyes are shining, you are jumping around. Similarly if you are disappointed, angry or fearful, you need to express such feelings as well.
We have been made to believe that it is wrong or weak to show feelings, such as anger, hatred, pain or fear. As a result, such emotions are blocked. What’s worse, these natural emotions may be heavily denied that you don’t even know they are there.
It starts with your intent to allow these feelings to surface and to express them as they emerge. It does not mean you should be crying, screaming, or yelling at yourself or people for hours. The idea is to find appropriate ways for the emotional release and in the convenient time, usually when you are alone.
Useful tools for emotional release
No one can tell you how to feel your feelings. It is up to you to learn about your own sensitivity here through effort, intent, and action. Working with others on your emotions may be helpful but it not necessary. Only you can interpret your emotions and connect them to the likely causes as well as find the appropriate release. Below, I suggest a few tools that I practise myself. Particularly, I encourage you to learn about EFT.
Hurt. Pain. Discomfort. Disappointment. Grief.
- Pray. This will give you wisdom. Peace. And a solution.
- Breathe. Breathe it out.
- Cry. Cry it out.
- Write about it. Take a piece of paper. Write things down. Jot down how you feel and what is bothering you. Take any time you need. Burn the drawing and imagine all the emotions being made free through the flame.
- Draw it. Take a piece of paper. Make a drawing of each feeling you name. Use colorful pencils. Take any time you need. Burn the drawing and imagine all the emotions being made free through the flame.
- Mix-media. Make an artistic expression of your emotion by using various media such as writing, painting or collage.
Anger and grief (anger also hides behind grief).
When you are angry, you are prone to physical acts. The energy is concentrated and seeks a physical release. It asks for a strong act of hitting, slapping, punching or kicking. The greatest method for the release is to play a sport that requires such an activity: football, baseball, volleyball, etc. If you don’t have such a possibility, take a pillow or cushion and keep punching it until you get tired. It works wonders.
- EFT. Use EFT, emotional freedom technique, also called tapping. It is a fast and effective tools for releasing emotions of the day. When learnt, it takes only 5min and can also be used to start a day in a good mood. The old (and hidden deep down) emotions and traumas may need a repetition over a period of time.
Personally, it took me 1 month of 2 x 5 min daily repetition to release a strong trauma. The technique is simple, effective and actually fun. I encourage you to read the EFT instruction booklet, freely available. The best educational videos are these on tapping. Follow them. I recommend you learn the practice from the Tapping website.
- Physical exercise. Exercise until you are physically exhausted. The best exercise is the one that requires a strong involvement of your limbs. E.g. running, chopping wood, kicking a ball, jumping on a trampoline, punching in a gym, etc.
If any of the above is a little frightening to you, accept that it feels frightening. Name it. Do the Source Exercise above.
Practice IV. Smile
Even if this sounds ridiculous, smile.
Change your posture, stand tall and face forward. Smile. By forcing a change on your physiognomy, new emotions (compensating the overflow you now experience) are likely to follow.
Smile to yourself.
Smile to remember things you are grateful for.
Smile to this moment of Now.
Practice V. Relax
Find ways to relax at night. The Red Ribbon Exercise may be of help.
You can handle the challenges
This is your life. And you can handle the challenges. It is a choice.
You may choose to persevere and get stronger or not.
You may choose to release your emotions or not.
You may choose to take an effort to get to know yourself or not.
You may choose to learn the practices so that you are well equipped and resourceful when the tornado comes or not.
No choice is still a choice.
You can choose to handle the challenges and grow.
This is your life. Only you can change it.