There’s no shortage of challenges or things that can just break your heart wide open when you look around the world, and the same can be said for any of us personally. Life is full of everything; sometimes we’re in a chapter that feels great, and sometimes we’re on our knees, wondering what happened. Most of us can handle the times that feel good pretty easily (more of that, please!), it’s when times get tough that we could use a little help and support.
Whether you’re going through a break-up, the loss of a job, the challenge of watching a loved one struggle, or you just can’t seem to find your joy, here are three tips that always help me find peace.
#1 Be open to accepting peace
There’s no point fighting reality. A lot of the time we suffer because we have a picture in our heads of “how things should be”, and the greater the distance between the picture and our reality, the more we suffer. The thing is, life is not going to bend to your will, and the more you contract against your experience, the more you increase the amount of pain you’re in. If you want to find peace in your life as you’re going through heartache, a better option is to open to circumstances as they are, and allow yourself to feel all your feelings around whatever you’re going through.
Culturally, we are taught to push down and edit out our feelings, but that creates a state of dis-ease within us. You can’t sit on an active volcano and expect to feel comfortable! Rage won’t kill you, and neither will grief, though it feels like it can sometimes. Pushing those feelings down, though, is a sure way to increase your stress levels, and create a disconnect between your mind and your intuition. The more you allow yourself to lean into your painful feelings so you can understand yourself, the more you create an environment of self-compassion. This is how we release the heat of our feelings, and come back to center.
#2 Trust your process
Some things will never make sense, and certain experiences will never go in your gratitude file, and that is okay. You do not have to be grateful for everything you’ve ever been through, or are going through. However, I’m willing to bet if you look back on your life, you will recognize that your times of greatest growth came out of your times of greatest challenge. There are some lessons we’d rather not receive, there are certainly a couple of experiences in my life I’d gladly give back, but we don’t get to choose. What we do get to choose is the way we respond to what it is we’re given. We can allow our heartbreaks to soften us and open us, or harden us and close us off. Opening feels a lot better. Trust in your ability to eventually grow beauty out of your pain, and have that much more empathy to offer to those around you.
#3 Take your time
I have a friend who’s going through some big life changes. She has two kids, and is a single mom. We were talking recently, and she said, “I just have to figure out the next right move, and then I can calm down.” And then we both started laughing, because of course the better idea is to calm down, and then figure out the next right move. It’s not always easy figuring out how to embrace change, though. I have another friend who lost her mother a year ago, and is still feeling the pain of that loss acutely, every day. Some of her friends have suggested she should be “moving on” a bit by now, and that maybe she should talk to someone. Personally, I think therapy is wonderful, and I think life-coaching can be great, too, but there is no timetable for grief and loss. One definition of stress is being in one place, and wishing you were somewhere else. Some people feel very uncomfortable around grief, because it reminds them of their own fragility. The reality is, we never know how much time we have, and the same can be said for all the people we love. The loss of an entire person is shocking, and depending on the depth of the love you shared, and the way the person was lost to you, the grief can be intense. You are not obligated to rush yourself through anything. If you have friends who need you to do that, those are probably not the friends who are going to be sitting in the rocker next to you when you’re ninety. Take your time, be kind to yourself, and have patience with your feelings. I don’t believe “time heals all wounds”, but I do believe we get to a place where we integrate the loss and the grief, and are more able to focus on the gratitude for having loved so deeply, and the beautiful memories we have.
The reason I love the yoga practice so passionately, is that it gives us the tools to face reality as it is, and to love ourselves as we are, even if we have work to do (and who doesn’t?!) Life is incredible and wildly interesting, but I don’t think anyone would argue that it’s easy. Having the tools to lean into your feelings when you’d rather take off, to know yourself, and to uncover your particular gifts so you can share them, well…that is the best stuff I know. If you need help getting started, or if you could use some comfort and support while you’re moving through some pain, please allow me to be there for you. Join me for online yoga and meditation classes and we can face reality together.
Sending you love,