Life is just hard right now. Not only are we approaching 6 months into the COVID19 global pandemic, kids are now either going back to school or are learning online, students are moving into college dorms or starting college from home, teachers are learning to teach in a whole new way and are feeling the weight of the world wanting to reach and teach to all learning abilities. Parents are working from home and making sure their child is on task, there is incredible political turbulence, racial tensions, community chaos, unemployment, society and ourselves. Ugh… I just have to put a hand to my heart and take a moment to feel that weight but also to be kind to it. This is just a moment of heaviness…
I often hear the term “new normal”, but the truth is, there is nothing normal about any of this. There is nothing familiar and each day seems to bring new and more uncomfortable events. There is very little in our lives where we feel we have any control. All of this is causing an increase in sleep problems, heightened anxiety, making decisions based off fear, and feelings of having no control in our lives.
Mindfulness and self-compassion practices offer us a way to disengage from the hectic world around us by focusing attention inward. We use mindful breathing as a way to create more inner peace and isolate the things that are simply out of our control. Using mindful breathing as an anchor is a great way to promote personal wellness, regaining a sense of control and taking care of yourself during this turbulent time.
One of the ways we can increase our sense of personal control is by letting go of control: the paradox of surrender. Rather than trying to control the uncontrollable, surrender involves noticing that there is nothing we can do to change many of our current situations.
Surrender does not mean giving up.
When there is nothing we can do to change a situation, it does not mean that we cannot deal with the situation in an active way. We can still deal with the emotions that result from the experience. We can reframe the meaning of the situation or we can engage in other activities to cope with the consequences of the situation. For example, we can go on a nature walk, read an inspiring book, listen to a podcast that interests you.
The key to developing a “healthy” level of personal control is by having a clear understanding of the possibilities and limits of control. This knowledge allows you to invest time and energy in actions that lie within the spheres of personal control and avoid wasting time on actions that cannot be controlled.
I recently heard the statement “We are all travelling in this storm, but we are each in different cars.” Each of us have personal control of different things. Focusing on what you can control can help ease the stress of those things that we cannot.
Another way to self-soothe or feel more calm is through our breath. When we take a few moments to breathe , we can disconnect from upsetting thoughts, emotions and other stressors that disrupt inner peace. However, like many abstract concepts, the concept of inner peace may be difficult to grasp especially during this unplanned for time of turbulence in our households and society.
Here’s a practice that you might find useful and can be done at any age:
Set a timer for 3-5 minutes, or longer if you wish.
Find a comfortable place to sit or lie down.
Feel the weight of your body in this space – feel it get heavy, feel the support underneath you
If it feels right, put a hand to your heart as a gesture of kindness to yourself
Drop your shoulders. Allow the jaw to be slightly open
Take a deep breath in through the nose, pause at the top of the breath, and exhale through the mouth.
Repeat this breath several more times.
Breathing in, “letting in kindness” Breathing out “letting go of the things we cannot control”
Allow everything that’s not necessary be released on the outbreath.
Let me know how you are doing. I really do want to know (insert heart)
Wishing all the teachers out there peace and tenderness. We all know you are doing your best!
Wishing all the students out there peace and tenderness. We all know you are doing your best.
Wishing all the parents out there peace and tenderness. We all know you are doing your best.
Wishing all the humans on the planet peace and tenderness. We know you are doing your best.