Over the years that I have been intentionally practicing ways to manage my inside world, I can remember random moments of ‘enlightenment’. Early on (and only up to maybe this last year) I was certain that each one of these ‘enlightenment’ experiences was going to be it. Each time I was convinced I now knew all the magic and have mastered the universe. I was certain moving forward would be smooth sailing.
I’m not sure of the name…Quantum something…of one of the first ‘enlightenment’ books I bought in the Target book section. Actually, it might have been Quantum Nutrition (?), I know Eckart Tolle’s A New Earth was one of my originals. I did not understand these books at first, and I never finished reading them. As for A New Earth, the second time I picked it up a few years and experiences later (reread during the infamous Breckenridge summer) – it was like candy to me.
When I took this first step toward a new perspective for better personal outcomes, I was living across from a gorgeous reservoir that had the perfect dirt trail for running. Prior to my ‘enlightenment’, when I would go for a run my goal was to space out. My outcome for the run was for when it was over, to not even realize I had done it. Turn. Off. Mind. Chatter. I would brag about how I could go for a run and not remember the run. For the record, this is the exact opposite of mindfulness.
I remember the day I went for a run after I began reading one of the two books I mentioned. I had a moment where I was ‘aware’ that I ‘noticed’ a wild flower along the side of the path. I was so stoked because 1. It actually was cool to notice. It was like something coming into focus for the first time. And 2. I really thought that was the lagging skill. I thought I had mastered what had been missing that led to the cyclical depression that wouldn’t go away. I really thought I was done. I got it.
In truth, this was a step. That led to the next step and so on. And at every step I really thought I had achieved what was missing. It was only this year that I realized nothing was missing. To live is to grow. It’s the story that we tell about the ‘gap’ that can shift the way we see our day-to-day experiences and how we relate to conditions (situations, circumstances, and events).
During remote learning in the spring, I purchased an online social-emotional program called GoZen! (the exclamation point is part of the title – although I do feel very exclamation-pointy about the program). One of the curriculums in the program was specifically for panic attacks. I liked this program because it included short animated videos with fun, likeable characters that captured student’s attention AND was relevant and ‘up-to-speed’ with current social and emotional research-based content (it’s not so easy to stay relevant and up-to-speed with ANYTHING in 2020).
One of the lessons for managing panic attacks was to generalize the symptoms. For example, if one of the symptoms of a panic attack is fear and a racing heart beat, would you also feel fear and a racing heartbeat ON PURPOSE when you watch a scary movie that you are actually enjoying? Using this generalization, are you able to manage the symptoms/feelings?
By the way…a quick insert: EVERYONE IS MANAGING A GLOBAL PANDEMIC RIGHT NOW. No one has the exact answer on how to manage anything. To think you should know can contribute to crazy-making.
Perhaps applying this ‘generalizing’ to some of the feelings that are showing up and not going away could be helpful. Let’s see here…what feelings might be showing up: uncertainty, isolation, unexpected outcomes, lack of structure, fear of the unknown, some level of risk and/or danger. And that’s the pandemic. We can add the ‘can’t hide from it now’ racial tension and political disruption.
One feeling I can personally generalize is isolation. Intentional isolation is what allowed me to ultimately learn the skills that got me back on board to ‘living’ life as opposed to just surviving life. It seems another topic that can be general is competitive sports. Most people can get ‘on board’ with the experience of competitive sports. What game is not filled with some level of intentional uncertainty and unexpected outcomes?
I am working on coming up through the middle and being curious about ‘the other side’ when it comes to racial tension and political disruption. I found myself strongly leaning to a side and pushing against another side. I also found myself quite ignorant and uninformed about topics that I have had access and opportunities to learn more about, but chose not to. I am choosing differently now. Pushing against ANYTHING only creates more of the same – if it didn’t, there wouldn’t be anything to push against.
I like the thinking: rather than pushing against what you don’t want, can you focus on being pulled toward what you do want? As human organisms ourselves, we are coded for homeostasis. Balance. Equilibrium. We are also coded to adapt to our environment.
I want to find the balance between telling my own story and inspiring others to do the same, AND be curious about what is contributing to polarizing societal trends. I wonder how I can contribute toward meaningful disruption to benefit the whole of humanity.
Check out this video from last week. It includes growing your own sense of autonomy. It also includes being curious about desired outcomes and the ‘gap’.