Sometimes life feels heavy. And when it does, I fall back onto the advice of some wise teachers, mentors, friends and my especially insightful sister. These pieces of advice are what I go back to consistently when I feel stuck, overwhelmed, sad or out of alignment. Building these practices into my life has helped me to heal, to remain grounded and to shift the energy.
Bolt Your Butt To The Mat.
During an interview with Linda Sivertsen on her podcast Beautiful Writers Group, Guru Singh offered this advice. When I spend time getting into my body through movement and breath work the thoughts that are swirling in my head slow down, dissipate and ultimately I feel calmer. In recent months I've found a studio, teachers and classes that feel like home. I know that when I practice in this space my energy shifts quickly and I'm able to maintain that shift more easily.
A few years ago I had my heart broken (several times, by the same person...slow learner) and it sucked. My wise and loving sister asked me what I could do to feel better. I told her that meditation and writing helped, so she suggested I do it twice a day. As a nurse, she knows how healing works and her advice on this was bang on. If there is something that works for you, double it up and reap the benefits your heart, mind or body need.
Through my meditation practice I have found that it is not the silence or the slowing of my thoughts, but the stillness in my body and mind that provides clarity. The stillness allows the energy to settle. It gives me permission to notice what's happening in my body. It asks me to stop and breath, to notice the experience I'm having. It asks me to bear witness to my physical, emotional and spiritual experience and to do so without judgment. Over the last few years I have felt how powerful this can be. And what's beautiful is that in most cases, I can practice stillness simply by paying attention to the moment I'm in.
Our breath is our life force. It's easy to take for granted that our next breath will come, that the oxygen will fuel the blood, the heart, the body. But when I feel totally overwhelmed with sadness or anger or am just feeling all the feelings, bringing myself back to my breath gives me perspective. Everything will be okay. This is not the end, this is the beginning. There are breathing techniques to calm the mind, to create clarity, to build energy, to cleanse the blood, to slow down the heart rate, to assist in birthing a baby...our breath is the most powerful experience in our day. Remembering that and connecting with breath always helps to bring me back into myself and calm me.
The sea, tears and sweat. Tears have long been my way of releasing energy, sadness, frustration, anger. So when the tears come I let them. They usually come heavy, deep and guttural. A release of energy building inside of me. But sometimes they fall during meditation or when I'm in the bath or when I'm reading a particularly moving piece of literature. Those tears are soft and unexpected, and last only a few moments. I see those tears as a clearing of energy.
A few years ago when I was trying to release someone from my life I would cleanse myself in the ocean as a means of clearing away their energy, and inviting in the spirit of the ocean. As I walked into the water and allowed the waves to wash over me I would repeat "Please cleanse me and help my heart to heal. Clear away the energy, thoughts and words that are no longer serving me."
And when I've cried all the tears and swum in the ocean, I need to move. Loud music that I can sing to, or dance to. Music I can walk to or run to. On repeat until there's a shift.
Growing up I didn't keep a regular journal of my thoughts or feelings, but I did have books with quotes, images and words that I liked the sound or feeling of. A few years ago I worked with a life coach and she encouraged me to write regularly. And it's stuck. I forgot somewhere along the way how much I love to write and how much pleasure and release I experience. Writing is a way for me to move energy out of my head and my heart. A place where it can live or a place where I can burn it up.
As the saying goes, time does heal everything and that has been an important lesson. And I find the practices I've listed a way to ease the sorrow and nurture the light until I feel myself again.