This morning as I settled into my meditation cushion for my sit, I could feel my chest tighten and an army of “shoulds” line up at the door. As is typical in May with end of school-year activities, I am juggling too much on the work, home and relationship front and am teetering on the edge of overwhelm.
But as I sat and breathed … and sat and breathed … and finally, released, it became clear my anxiety was self-imposed and it all centered around expectations of how things should be. If I trust and “let go” of the outcome-I am able to relax into this vast sense of peace. And wow, does that feel delicious!
Photo: The Buddha at Villa Sumaya retreat center makes it look so easy to be with what is.
One of the reasons I meditate before I begin work each day is to gain perspective. My perceived problems don’t vanish after a 20 minute practice, but they often take on a different flavor or hue. And, more than anything, I become more comfortable being with what is. (Read my tips for starting a meditation practice.)
Over time, I’ve come to realize three things: 1) if I can accept where I am without trying to change, it can provide a sweet sense of freedom, 2) I won’t die, drown or implode if I allow myself to truly feel what I’m feeling; it’s key to healing and 3) joy and bliss–just like pain and fear–come and go, too. Don’t get too attached to any one feeling; they’re all here today and gone tomorrow. Kind of like the constantly changing weather.
Some of the things that have helped me learn to be with what is, include:
Having a strong support network, a tribe, that can provide support and validation for the incredible, messy journey of being human (check out our Personal Renewal Groups and consider joining a group or facilitating groups for women in your area as a RTA-Certified Facilitator; these powerful groups have had an enormous impact on my healing over the past 15 years).
Practicing self-compassion and being gentle with myself especially when I know I’m “triggered” and navigating intense emotional terrain. I often place a hand over my heart when I need to invite in self-acceptance. Consider attending one of my upcoming retreats, which are focused around cultivating self-compassion.
Keeping the big picture (read cultivating a 30,000 foot view) and being around friends who can help me pull back and gain perspective.
Breathing and conscious movement: whether it’s through pranayama (balancing breath work), yoga, qi gong, energy medicine or walking with a dear friend-these practices really help us navigate strong emotions, which are simply “energy in motion!” (Check out our free self-care comfort cards for a visual reminder to move and breathe.)
When discomfort arises (which it will, again and again), I keep returning to this reminder: remember to breathe, stay present, feel what’s coming up and continue to ask, “Can I be with what is right now and be ok?” Yes, I can.
SUPPORT FOR BEING WITH WHAT IS: Here are three opportunities:
- Join me June 10th in Asheville, NC for Embracing the Wild Unknown Women’s Self-Renewal Retreat or June 23-25 at Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health (Lenox, MA) for New Way of Being: Women’s Self-Renewal Retreat.
- Register for my New Way of Being: Learning to Go with the Flow self-paced, self-directed audio course (only $99).
- Pick up a copy of my latest book Nurturing the Soul of Your Family, filled with resources, tools and practices to help you go with the flow and find peace in everyday life.
Subscribe here to Live Inside Out, a weekly blog written by life balance/mindfulness coach/speaker and Career Strategists president, Renée Peterson Trudeau. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Good Housekeeping, Spirituality & Health and more. Thousands of women in ten countries are becoming RTA-Certified Facilitators and leading/joining self-care groups based on her award-winning curriculum. She is the author of The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal and Nurturing the Soul of Your Family: 10 Ways to Reconnect and Find Peace in Everyday Life. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and 15 year-old son. More on her background here.