A friend of mine looked at me recently and said "It's like you have been dodging bullets the last couple of months and you've just been hit!" That's what my life has felt like in the midst of chaos. A few weeks ago I got news that was a life changing moment that felt like got hit by the bullet.
Shock, disbelief and the surreal realization that nothing would ever be the same again set in.
This happens to all of us. Whether it is a sick loved one, a diagnosis, a lover who breaks up with you, a divorce or job loss, or perhaps a child going through something difficult; these type of big life challenges hit hard and throw us for a loop.
When things feel out of control; we can heave ourselves into the line of fire, care-taking and reacting with such intensity, that we can neglect to take any kind of respectful care of ourselves. In fact, I watched old habits try to come back in that I used to use to disconnect me from feeling negative feelings. Like soothing with crap food and eating too much, relying on carbs sugar for hits, or wine to disconnect, not exercising, not sleeping and numbing with Netflix.
And that is O.K. for a bit.
Until it’s NOT.
These things are Band-Aids that help us change how we feel in the moment and only temporarily, but things that eventually leave us depleted and further away from our healthiest, strongest place. The shock that my body was experiencing from the reality that was hitting me really did not need me to hit it harder with more crap and stress eating my poor liver was then going to have to process. My body needed me to take care of it not make the situation worse.
The truth is, that the better we care for ourselves, mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually, the more centered, courageous and wise we can be when circumstances feel crappy.
So what can we do?
We Can Take Radical Care of Us…
What does that mean?
It means deep compassion and love for yourself while you are going through the experience. It means listening intuitively to what your body is asking for and staying connected to that inner guidance. Rather than the typical disconnection we all like to do, we can take conscious gentle care of ourselves so that we can access where our innate strength and true self resides. And that place is within our bodies, our minds, and our spirits.
It’s always mind, body, and spirit as one continuous whole
Here are some of the things that I did to help me through this difficult time:
- Know who your people are to connect to: When I was first hit with the painful news, I found my body totally reacting in shock. In that moment I wasn't able to process what was happening or find another perspective since I was right in the story of it. I knew that I needed to connect with my friends that could hold space and not go into my misery. These are not the friends that you call who's first reaction is to get sad or angry with you and tell you they are grabbing a bottle of wine to come over and commensurate your misery and feel sorry for me. The people that I needed in that moment were ones that could have compassion but also hold space for me to see a bigger picture of my souls journey. My high vibe tribe! I know they will choose love over fear so that I can get out of the spin of my story that felt so awful.
- Allow yourself to feel what you are feeling. Ugh. This is always the hard one. Every morning I would sit on my yoga mat and just feel what was there. Almost every time I sat down my brain wanted me to get up and run and disconnect for the feelings that were coming up. But instead of running I would allow the sadness, anger, fear, or whatever was present to come. I didn't like it but I knew that I needed to process the feelings instead of stuffing them away. They needed to be felt and to allow them to flow through me.
- Challenge your thinking. Grab your journal. You have to take the story or the thoughts out of your head and put them down on paper. One thing I believe is that so much of our emotional pain is caused by our thoughts about a situation...not the situation itself. This is why no two people face similar circumstances and react the same way. When we learn this truth and begin to challenge areas where we feel crappy or stuck, we can begin to move through our circumstances in a powerful way. Learning to think intentionally is a habit that you can cultivate and it transforms everything. Rather than me believing that something had gone wrong or should be some other way, by putting down my story on paper I could question my beliefs about the situation and look at it from a fresh perspective. Everything is ultimately for us as it teaches and allows us to grow. Pain is perception.
- Tune into your spiritual practice I have a personal version of meditation and prayer that has been my deepest source strength since my health and mental crash almost ten years ago. It’s evolved and grown since then, but the ultimate truth is that we are not in this whole life thing alone and that everything is for us- not against us. The benevolent force that created and continues to create all the beauty we know, is available to all of us if we are willing to seek it out and be open to the support. The Universe or God or Source or whatever you wish to call it has your back. Always. Be open to receive the help and guidance that is always flowing to you. Make sure you are connecting to your spiritual practice everyday.
- Spend time outdoors Nature is both grounding and healing in chaotic energy. If your crisis happens to land in the middle of a cold winter spell, I would still encourage you to bundle up and get out into nature. It's that important to get grounded!
- Say “No” to OPTIONAL things that don't feel good. This is tricky for most of us because we all have overstuffed schedules and think we have to do everything. If you do not create the space to process pain, then it will come up for you in some way bigger and badder. The truth is that everything is a choice and is negotiable. It doesn't mean that you don't go to work or feed your kids, but let go of the stuff that is more noise and is optional. And there usually ARE options.
- Go to yoga. I know I always say this, but there is much more to yoga that the physical aspect. Whatever type of movement you choose, be gentle. Breathe. Listen. If yoga is completely new to you and you know you want to start slow, try yin yoga. A vinyasa flow yoga I also find helps me to move stuck energy through me. There is a cleansing and a building up that comes through meditative movement that is I’ve found is easily accessed through a good yoga practice. I knew the reaction in my body from the shock needed me to process that energy and yoga was something I did every day to help this release! Even if it meant just using an online class when I couldn't make it in to the studio, I made this non-negotiable in the first few weeks after my crisis hit.
- Nourish your body It was amazing to me after all these years of cleaning up my crappy relationship to food and letting go of emotional eating, how this emotional eating habit wanted to jump back in! Instead of diving back into the old unhealthy patterns because "I deserved to eat for comfort", I decided that this time even more compassionate to my body for what it was having to go through as it was handling this shock and grief. I loved and nourished it even more than I normally do. When we get stressed and go into fight and flight our body's digestive system slows way down. But being more in touch with what you eat and how you nourish yourself is healing and grounding. Keep it simple and be intuitive to what your body is really needing. Since I found that I could hardly eat and was craving sugar, I kept the digestive process easy with juices and smoothies to start. Then I moved to some nice grounding root veggies and soups. All nourishing and easy to digest.
- Move towards acceptance when you can: As a mindfulness meditation teacher, I know the power in accepting what is in the moment. Byron Katie says it perfectly " When you argue against reality, you suffer". It's so true. I coulda, woulda, shoulda, that moment in a million different ways before I decided I needed to accept what had happened. When you can bring acceptance to what is and acknowledge it, observe it and honor it, the pain or the emotion can flow through you and show you what you are believing about the situation. Recognize and listen to the thoughts that precede these feelings and write them down. You will know you are in acceptance when you begin to feel peace.
So while I wish that you never experience something like this, I hope that if you do you choose to bring radical self-care and love to yourself and your body.
In health & happiness,