life changes,  managing stress,  mindfulness,  personal rhythm,  self-care

Breathing Through the Storm

Photo by Yota Schneider

Only a few months ago, our family entered yet another phase of endings and new beginnings. Our twin daughters, having graduated college, found jobs, moved out of the family home, and launched their new lives in earnest.

Three weeks ago, both of them, having being asked to work from home, made the trip back to the family homestead to weather the storm. There are suitcases lying around and a dining table covered in laptops and paperwork.

One of them begins the day with an early video conference call, at the end of which she’s joined at the table by her sister, who also begins to work. Neal too is working from home, distance teaching, and meeting with his students and staff members over video.

I’m doing my best to keep a sense of routine for me while making sure there’s food for all and keeping the house in relative order. Our little dog is confused. So many people, so much traffic. What happened, mom? We had just started to settle. Surprise, surprise…

To top it all off, three months ago, I decided to relaunch my coaching practice and redesign my website to reflect the changes. It was three months of envisioning, thinking things through, writes and rewrites. I felt inspired again and ready to go when, boom, the pandemic hit, the family dynamic changed, the world took an even crazier turn than usual, and I had to once again, pause, take a deep breath, and adjust to what is.

I’m not going to lie. I’m not doing great. Some days are better than others. Given all that’s going on, I’m pretty sure I’m not alone. What we’re going through is global, and it’s raw, and it’s making us all feel vulnerable and scared.

How are you managing? If you feel you’ve lost your footing and emotions run high, be kind with yourself. I mean it. Stop and read this again.

Be kind and gentle with yourself.

If there were ever a good time to practice pausing, a few times during the day, this is it.

Our lives are on overdrive. There’s a tsunami of information coming our way, every minute of every day, and the news is not good. In the meantime, kids will be kids and their routine has been upended.

Everything is amplified. People are losing their jobs, and some are losing their lives. There’s justifiable fear about finances, health, lack of resources, the status of the world, and whether life will ever be the same again.

Our minds are racing on a good day. Imagine under these circumstances.

There is only one option here and that is to go through as best as we can. Many mental health professionals, wellness experts, and life coaches have stepped up. There’s a wealth of resources and information available online to help us get through this crisis. Do your research, choose what works for you, and go for it. Don’t go crazy, keep it simple. At the end of this entry, I’ll also post two links for the mindfulness practitioners among you.

What works for me is having a rhythm, a daily routine.

I start my day, early, while everyone is asleep. I come downstairs, take care of the animals, and sit down for a short, 20-30 minute meditation. I light a candle, sit on my favorite chair, and begin to meditate, focusing on the breath, and letting it all be as is.

It’s important for me to start the day like this. It steadies my mind and grounds me. It helps me stay focused.

Here and there, during the day, I try to take short breaks to be alone, breathe, read, have a cup of tea, look outside, and be present. When I can, I go out to walk by the river or the lake. This serves as my walking meditation.

Now, your turn …

As you sit here, reading this, I invite you to lean back, and close your eyes. Take a deep breath, then another.

As your breathing settles into a natural rhythm, scan your body with your mind’s eye. Do you hold tension anywhere? Breathe into it. Gently. Allow your body to melt onto the chair.

Now, ask yourself … What do I need, right this very moment?

Pay attention to what comes up. Listen to yourself.

When you’re ready, open your eyes and don’t rush to stand up. Maybe you can journal and write down what came up for you.

I hope you find this breathing into presence exercise helpful.

Is there anything I can do to support you? Please, don’t hesitate to reach out for a short conversation, to ask a question, or say hello. Virtual hugs included.

Thank you for being here. Take good care of yourself and your loved ones.

Peace!

Yota works with women who are in the midst of personal and professional changes and milestones. Her approach is deeply influenced by her cultural roots, work and life experience, and her long-term practice of mindfulness meditation. In addition to her work with individual clients, Yota speaks and writes on mindful living, overcoming self-doubt, and the art of letting go.

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