July 6, 2010

Calm Amongst the Storm

When things are going well in your life do you feel something might happen to disturb and disrupt your state of calm? Like a playing child who is suddenly very quiet, it is common in our busy society for people to feel mild anxiety when everything feels quiet and peaceful. Is there really a calm before the storm? Is that old adage correct? Sometimes.

Upsets come in all forms. They ask us, "Can you hold the center of your being while a storm rages?" We can become overwhelmed and shattered by the death of a loved one, illness, betrayal, abandonment, physical, emotional, and psychological pain. We can become despairing over the actions taken by those we love, allowing the choices they make to affect and hurt us deeply. How can we make it through some of life's circumstances with greater awareness, compassion, and wisdom?

Something will come to disturb the calm. It always does. That is part of the human experience - a common one - you can feel great one moment and in the very next moment can receive a phone call or experience a shock that triggers a state of suffering.

I used to believe that much of one’s ability to handle the storms of life has to do with an ability to grieve and heal. I thought, well, we are not taught how to grieve and then to be free from that grief. In many cases we are taught to get over it quickly, go back to work, move on, and certainly don't show so many feelings. As a result, people carry around so much old grief that as soon as a new circumstance arises that creates more suffering, it cannot be managed. It is like the last drop of water that overflows a bucket, the proverbial straw that breaks the camel’s back.

I do believe it is vital to grieve fully for past losses and suffering in order to effectively manage life’s storms, but more importantly I think the majority of us can use an attitude adjustment. Instead of complaining (and holding onto the notion) that life has done us wrong, we can accept the ebb and flow of difficult circumstances in life. Simply accept that life is this full, sometimes joyous, sometimes painful and continually soften our heart centers as we move through life.

Why do we resist this so? Perhaps it is because we, our own private worlds, have not acknowledged our unique strengths, power, and ability to endure. So we keep trying to get this recognition outside ourselves: look at what happened to me. And then this happened, and this, and he said this, and she did that, and I was innocent to it all.

To cultivate a practice of remaining centered in the face of storms, try the following:

Breathe. Be aware of your breath in every moment.
Consciously feel any sensations in your body, even discomfort. Energy moves through you and it needs to move through and out. When sensations are avoided and ignored, they tend to bury themselves, percolate, and fester.

Accept life! It's full of events both pleasant and not so pleasant.
Remember and repeat, “This too shall pass.”
Each evening before you sleep, look inward and ask, “Am I holding onto suffering? Am I wanting attention for my pain? Am I willing to change and face life with greater joy?

Hold the conscious, deliberate intention that you will go forward knowing that whatever you encounter, you will be conscious of your attitude and how easy it is to let it drop into negativity. Focus on what you have and the gifts your life has brought you. See the beauty all around you. Force your mind into a higher perspective. Insist on it, and it will happen.

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