Updated: Aug 9, 2020
"I drew aside the curtains and looked out into the darkness, and it seemed to my troubled fancy that all those little points of light filling the sky were the furnaces of innumerable divine alchemists, who labour continually, turning lead into gold, weariness into ecstasy, bodies into souls, the darkness into God."
-William Butler Yeats
The last 2-3 weeks were really a struggle for me personally to stay emotionally balanced. I am sure I'm not alone. The natural waxing and waning of emotional tides and experiencing the borders of our capacity for resilience and responsiveness (rather than reactivity) has been amplified for many people right now because of all the change and uncertainty we are facing globally and personally. I'd been pretty steady up until a few weeks ago, at which point a lot of things converged which pushed me past the edge of my limits. I'm wondering if any of you are experiencing something like that AND what you did/are doing to help yourself find center again.
MINDFULNESS & YOU
I'm sharing my personal experience here for a number of reasons. The first is that this discussion is really quite relevant to our explorations of Chapter 2 on Mindfulness, for those of you who are participating in the Virtual Book Club on Resilience. A long practice in Mindfulness has now gotten me to the point that I can usually recognize "situation critical" and intervene more quickly to find my center than I used to be able to do. I'm not perfect, but I'm better than I used to be because I have made a concerted effort over the past 17 years.
I hope that you will all begin to realize the benefits of developing an effective Mindfulness practice. It is so simple, really. All it takes is a little willpower motivated by the understanding that all those little moments of joyful effort ripple out to create positive changes in not only our lives but the lives of those around us.
GROWTH & RESILIENCE
It's so interesting to consider how life is constantly providing opportunities for us to grow in deeper and deeper ways. It is interesting to consider how we frame these experiences and challenges and whether we are creating a story about our life that empowers us. It is also interesting to be mindful of whether we have a tendency to recognize and utilize these opportunities or whether we, rather, allow ourselves to get dragged into the undertow of the collective emotional atmosphere or the intensity of our own experiences and give up our power.
Mindfulness opens up a well of resources to help us live in a state of greater self-awareness. Greater self-awareness is the primary foundation for developing greater resilience. Remember, resilience is "the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties". Resilience is NOT "never experiencing difficulties." It is important to remember that and to develop some compassion for ourselves, which was the topic for Chapter 1.
"You are the sky. Everything else - it's just the weather." -Pema Chodron
This is one of my favorite quotes and is one that is coming up for us later in the "Resilient" book.
Two weeks ago I had what could rightfully be called a complete emotional breakdown. It didn't last long. But it did happen, nonetheless. And it was impressive, let me tell you! When I do things, I do them well! I was in full out meltdown mode, feeling a deep unremitting sadness that eventually, over the course of a week, turned into crying jags and a deep feeling of hopelessness. Now, I have been through enough of life and done enough personal exploration and self-knowing work to know that this is NOT me...and believe me I have experienced depression, severe anxiety, and emotional abuse. These kinds of thoughts and feelings are no longer something I identify with. They really have not been a part of my experience of "Erin" in a very long time. So, when this escalated, I knew there was something else going on here. Something I needed to dive into, look at deeply, and address.
SILENCE & HEALING
For me to get quiet enough to hear myself and to tune-in to what I need to adjust, I need solitude. Everyone, I would argue, needs solitude for that process, at least at the beginning: a few days of silence - no TV, no telephone, no social media, no talking. I am still surprised how many people are deeply fearful of being with themselves that way. It's so common, when I bring up the idea, for people to say "Oh! I could never do that!" This apprehension stems from a habit of avoiding "what's in there" by watching TV, spending every minute of the day distracting ourselves with "busy-ness" or gossiping or alcohol or reading books or even doing Good deeds....name your distraction. However, it is also so wonderful to see how many people face that apprehension bravely, create some time for silence and then report how rejuvenating and healing it really was. More often than not actually.