change,  life changes,  managing stress,  mindfulness,  self-care,  uncertainty,  wellness

The Eye of the Storm

This is the time to be slow,
Lie low to the wall
Until the bitter weather passes.

Try, as best you can, not to let
The wire brush of doubt
Scrape from your heart
All sense of yourself
And your hesitant light.

If you remain generous,
Time will come good;
And you will find your feet
Again on fresh pastures of promise,
Where the air will be kind
And blushed with beginning.

John O’Donohue from To Bless the Space Between Us

It’s been almost a month since the social distancing guidelines went into place. We’re all feeling the effects of the new normal and we’re responding in our own way. Emotions are heightened.

We’re being hit by a powerful storm. We’re asked to take cover and wait it out. We’re trying to care for our family and keep healthy, while working from home. We’re trying really hard to keep our perspective and maintain hope.

Staying calm, sane, and present with ourselves in the midst of chaos is not easy. Yet

This is the time to be slow,
Lie low to the wall
Until the bitter weather passes.

How do we create space to be slow and still in the midst of a storm?

Theoretically, the eye of the storm is the center of a tornado in which everything is peaceful and calm. It is possible then to find stillness in the center.

What if we were to intentionally pause in the midst of our busyness and mental overdrive? What if we simply stopped for a minute or two, took a couple of deep breaths, and checked in with ourselves?

We can do that for two minutes or five, or we can take 15 minutes to sit and breathe. We can pause before responding to yet another request from our ten year old. In that moment of pause, we can recognize our habitual response, such as it is, and choose to listen and respond differently.

Pema Chodron teaches that in order to work with where we are, we first have to accept where we are.

It’s about being able to stay with difficult and unpleasant experiences, all those things we habitually push away. If we can be open to the entirety of the human experience – the pleasant and unpleasant – then our experience of life is complete, and from that comes a deep sense of well-being and happiness. The problem with avoiding the negative parts is that we’re also closing ourselves off from the joyful parts, so the whole thing is unsatisfying. “

Pema Chodron in an interview featured in Lion’s Roar

It’s not always easy or comfortable to look at ourselves and accept who we are in the moment. It does get easier with practice though. We learn to watch our many shades and colors like clouds passing by against a clear, blue sky.

Meeting ourselves where we are, and accepting how we feel and think in present time, is a gift we can give to ourselves and each other.

Try, as best you can, not to let
The wire brush of doubt
Scrape from your heart
All sense of yourself
And your hesitant light.

Our individual identities are defined by geography, the activities that fill our days, our relationships, the places we frequent, and even our distractions. We more or less know what to expect from each day. Then, along comes a pandemic. The rhythm of our lives is utterly disrupted. We’ve been put on time out, stripped of the paraphernalia that define us.

Our sense of identity is being tested.

Teachers are teaching virtually, while also caring for their own kids and loved ones at home. Doctors are seeing patients online. Not everyone is comfortable or experienced with computers and the learning curve is steep. Food shopping is an adventure and parents are being challenged in new ways. There will be books written on Parenting in the Time of Covid-19. Just wait.

Then, there’s the human need for certainty and clear outcomes. There are subliminal messages coming our way on soldiering on and making our time count, staying productive, being creative, and keeping positive.

There are memes, quotes, and articles flooding social media. Everyone is trying to cope and help as best they can. Unwittingly, we all add to the noise and clutter. As I’m writing this, I’m feeling self-conscious for adding to the noise.

How do we maintain our sense of self when our lives are being reorganized by invisible hands and all sense of control is being taken away?

If you remain generous,
Time will come good;
And you will find your feet
Again on fresh pastures of promise,
Where the air will be kind
And blushed with beginning.

We’re at the very beginning of some really profound changes. We’re going back and forth between shock, denial, and disbelief. Anger is bubbling up. No matter where you find yourself on the emotional roller coaster these days, it’s natural. Don’t let anyone tell you differently.

We need to give ourselves permission to feel what we feel and pay attention. This is not the time for shame and doubt. This is a moment of truth and acceptance. If we allow ourselves to be swept away by fear and anxiety, it will be hard to get back to any sense of sanity, and we need our sanity.

Each day, meet yourself at dawn, and check in. Go through your day, doing what you can, and when you remember, take a moment of pause. Do your best, whatever that looks like at any given day. Who’s to judge?

What are some ways you can practice being generous with yourself? What does it even mean to be kind and generous with yourself at a time like this? I would love to know.

For me, it’s really easy to feel I’m not doing enough to help. Being kind to myself is to remember that, who I am and what I do, are enough. I am good enough.

And you know what? You are good enough. And soon, we will find our feet again on fresh pastures of promise, where the air will be kind and blushes with beginnings.

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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