It can feel uncomfortable to face undesirable states of being like anxiety, sadness, anger, etc.
You may tuck it away when it pokes it's head up or perhaps redirect your focus onto something more pleasurable.
Sometimes this is our best coping mechanism we have in the moment, and that's okay. Because who wants to just sit in pain and discomfort?
And yet constantly avoiding discomfort and continually seeking out pleasure can be exhausting and sometimes ineffective.
Do you ever wish you had a map, anchor, and compass
to help you navigate through hard times?
I know your not voyaging out to sea but actually emotions are a lot like waves.
Like waves, emotions come and they go. We can ride a wave of joy and experience the heights of ecstasy, and we can ride the waves of sorrow skilfully and experience the depths of being human.
But often times we try to jump off the wave when a wave of suffering comes. We try to change the ocean. And that's if you have the strength to fight. Sometimes the waves are so huge we can't even fight, it feels like were drowning and lost at sea. And this happens to the best of us.
I believe there's a way to ride the currents of life that isn't dwelling and it's not avoiding. It's somewhere in the middle.
First, I'll share THREE principles based in Buddhist Philosophy for context and a three step process you can do in your own life (which includes the map, compass, and anchor). And of course with anything, you can try it, keep it, alter it or let it go if it doesn't quite fit.
1) Life is ever changing. Nothing will last. Do you know that thought when you're having the best time and you say, "oh we should do this again" before it's even over? Because it's like you already know it will come to an end. And for some people they stay anxious even in the midst of a good time because apart of them is waiting for the ball to drop. This speaks to the nature of life. Things are constantly changing and in flux. So as good times change that means bad times will also change and won't last.
2) Acceptance is the gateway to freedom and peace. Resistance can indeed create change, but a fighting mode can't be endured longterm. And actually there is physiological harm to keeping your body in a constant state of fight or flight. Idealism creates pain, judgment, anger, and additional suffering to a situation that already sucks. And I recognize the activist mindset uses it's anger of injustice to stimulate action and change. But it's possible to create change while feeling inner peace. Inner peace comes from accepting the nature of humanity (a. no one is perfect b. throughout history there has always been tribalism, war, pain and suffering). Acceptance doesn't mean you agree but it means you are seeing the current reality as is. Understanding and compassion helps with acceptance. It's all a practice of the heart.
3) Emotion (e--motion) is energy in motion. It's possible to feel emotion while staying calm and having it move through you. When we resist emotion, "I shouldn't feel X, I should feel Y. " It creates more guilt, frustration, overwhelm, judgment, and exhaustion as we fight unwanted states of being. Knowing that it's possible to feel centered in the midst of commotion isn't a goal to be perfected but I say it to fuel inspiration of what's possible. Going back to the metaphor "emotions are like waves"--over exertion of energy can contribute to drowning, knowing how to turn onto your back and breathe and relax can prevent drowning. Trick is how do you do it emotionally? What can anchor you and keep you calm during an emotional storm?
Here's A Map
(( It's a three part self-questionnaire you can ask yourself at any given moment. Often used in times of stress, turmoil, and emotion.))
1) How do I feel? What do I have?
Take note of your current state of being: What kind of thoughts? What is the quality of emotions? Any impulses? What preconceptions or fixations? Any patterns? And Accept. Accept your current experience. This doesn't mean you agree but riding emotions well means first facing and understanding the kind of wave you're on. This is essentially mindfulness in action (My Inner Freedom essay speaks to this step).
2) What do you want to feel?
This isn't just what you want like, "I'd feel better if they would just stop." Go deeper. When you can touch into the feeling sense you can be free from other people's decisions, because you realize you have the power to create positive feeling regardless of what other people are doing. Because reality is you can't control anyone but yourself. This step speaks to your desired-state-of-being and we'll go deeper into that.
3) What can I do in this moment to close the gap?
This speaks to using a relaxed focus, patience, and kindness to align yourself with your desired-state-of-being. It includes action and non action and knowing how to navigate that. We'll break this down lastly.
lets Go deeper into Step 2
"What do you want to feel?" in a deeper sense asks, "what do you really want in this life? How do you want to operate in this world?" The deeper answer is your
This is the overarching feeling-sense in which you want to feel throughout living life. Knowing this can inform what you need and what actions to take in any given moment.
Sometimes you might have acute-intentions or ego-desires that seem different than your desired-state-of-being. Your desired-state of being can inform how you manage your acute-intentions and ego-desires. Your desired-state of being connects you to your higher self and essentially is the container in which you can create your life in.
"Desired-State-of-Being" is your compass. It provides clarity, direction, purpose, and intrinsic motivation.
It's not about being perfect or striving for perfection. I can see it being misunderstood as such. Know that your desired-state-of-being is just a compass to help you gauge where you are. It's used best with a relaxed focus and self-compassion. Desired-state-of-being provides direction and clarity in a world of so many ways of living, modalities, and shoulds, because desired-state-of-being is the thing your yearning for, it's yours.
In the end, you will know if you lived life in the way that you really wanted to.
So in a sense living with a desired-state-of-being is working backwards. You are keeping in mind your "end-goal." And I use the term end-goal loosely because the desired-state-of-being not only encompasses the end but also the process and the journey.
People on their death beds often have a list of "should ofs." This is an opportunity to really ask yourself now, "What is it that I really want in my life?" And I believe it's not just a series of things to check off on a list, but it's how you used your energy and time, it's how you choose to feel as you lived life.
So how do you want to feel as you spend your time living?
What is your desired-state-of-being?
Desired-Sate-of-Being (How do you really want to feel in life?)
Maybe it's clear. That's awesome (!)
Not sure what your desired-state-of-being is? Sit with the idea. Journal. Try some on.
For example, my desired-state-of-being is to feel *Trusting, Centered and Alive* This informs my choices and how I move through the world and how I navigate stimulating situations.
Some other examples are: free, joy, creative, ease, relaxed, connected, open, engaged, hopeful, inspired, grateful, understanding, invigorated, peaceful, accepting, motivated...
There's no right or wrong and I truly believe that. It's about you tapping into why you're here and how you want to use your time and energy. What would make you feel complete?
I recommend 3-5. And they can indeed change overtime. Try keeping them simple so you can recall them in the midst of a hard time.
Now let's go deeper into Step 3:
"What can I do in this moment to help me close the gap
between what I feel and
what I want to feel (desired-state-of-being)?"
First it should be said the desired-state-of-being isn't a "should".
It's kind of paradoxical in nature. When you accept any unwanted feeling state (like anxiety, anger, sadness) and allow yourself to feel it, then there's a softening in the midst of it. Only from acceptance you can then more easily access your desired-state-of-being.
**Otherwise you'll feel like your on a treadmill constantly running from what you're feeling, always in motion towards an ideal state. And your desired-state-of-being will become less like a compass and more like "chasing the dragon."
If you feel like you're on a treadmill or drowning in emotion, you may want to try softening the grasping-like exertion and "float on your back." As if you were drowning in a literal ocean of waves. This is your anchor.
"Floating on the back" is an internal shift where you lean into a feeling of trust and stillness. Allows you to catch your breath. From here you can take note of the wave, the size and complexities. It's a little bit like reevaluating your situation but more than that it's a softening and relaxing into the suffering. It's active kindness towards yourself and situation. It's like hugging a crying child but instead your hugging yourself. And sometimes a mantra (repeating a statement) can help, like repeat, "This is what I have. I accept and love myself. It's not who I am, it's just what I have. I'm not sure how I will through this, but I know this too will pass." In this stillness if you're aware of it or not, your naturally cultivating energy and the next moves will likely feel clearer and easier.
Luckily, not all our waves of emotion are so huge. And sometimes action is indeed the best way to ride it. During these times will(power) can propel you.
When you focus on your will(power) you get less caught up and worried when a specific method doesn’t work and more quickly you can move through your methods until you find something that helps in that particular moment.
Key here is to be unattached to your methods and be open, creative and even spontaneous with your methods.
Take a moment and with your desired-state-of-being in mind,
what methods and modalities would help you feel that?
Perhaps make a list including action-oriented and nurturing-based things. (For a while I kept a list of all my methods so that I could easily access it, because sometimes in the middle of an emotional situation it can be hard to remember.)
Some examples: a walk, dancing, painting, something spontaneous, hanging out with friends, tv show, meditation, adrenaline activity, running, something nurturing, yoga, music, night on the town, something familiar, hiking, shopping, kigong swimming, therapy session, something new, reading, ice cream, something creative, massage, journaling, nap and so forth.
Are some methods bad?
I believe it's how we use them. If you use them in moderation then that can be a sign of healthy use. If you feel out of control by one then perhaps that's a signal you might need to adjust how you use that particular method. That being said, if a method is hurting yourself or others (physically, emotionally, spiritually) than I would likely say this method isn't healthy and the question to ask your self is, "What is this method helping me feel?" And "Is there another way to help me feel this?"
Invite patience, spaciousness, curiosity and creativity in your process of utilizing methods.
Take away Summary
Here's a Map *a mindfulness exercise* to help.
1) How do I feel? Take note of your current state of being
*With curiosity, kindness and acceptance
2) What do I want to feel? What is my desired-state-of-being?
*This provides your personal compass to be used with a relaxed focus
3) What can I do in this moment to close the gap?
*Trust and stillness can anchor you while will(power) can help propel you
As I hope you know, I am here to support you. I love comments and questions; reach out with anything!