When things are going well in your life, do you feel something might happen to disturb and disrupt your state of calm? Like a playing child who is suddenly very quiet, we wonder about our lives when everything feels quiet and peaceful. Is that old adage correct, that things feel calm right before a storm?
Upsets come in all forms, seeming to provide tests to see if you can hold your balance while a storm rages. Many times, these events and happenings are beyond control. We can become overwhelmed and shattered by the death of a loved one, illness, betrayal, abandonment, physical, emotional and psychological pain. We can become despairing over the actions taken by those we love, allowing the choices they make to affect and hurt us deeply.
The truth is, something will come to disturb the calm. It always does. That is part of the human experience. It is part of living here, on this planet. Do you know of one single person who has not had this same experience? A person can be feeling great in one moment and in the very next, experience a shock that triggers a state of suffering.
Much of our ability to handle the storms of life has to do with an ability to grieve and heal. Americans have a difficult time with grieving. We are a hardy, happy sort with a strong, independent, can-do, happy image. To grieve for any length of time does not fit our credo. There are towers to build, things to sell, money to be made, stuff to buy. We are not taught how to grieve and then be free from that grief. In many cases, we are taught to get over it quickly, go back to work, move on and for God’s sake, stop crying and showing your feelings!
As a result, so many people are carrying around so much old grief that as soon as a new circumstance arises that creates more suffering, it cannot be managed. It’s like the last drop of water that overflows a bucket – the proverbial straw that breaks the camel’s back.
It is vital to grieve fully for past losses and suffering in order to be calm amidst life’s storms. To know when you have processed all of the grief from the past – or even from a recent event – is important. For example, some people grieve over lost love their entire lives, never fully living again, never fully giving their heart to another again. They lose out on much beauty and love in their lives because the idea of opening the heart again triggers old wounds that feel unbearable.
But those old wounds can be healed. They don’t need to be coddled and clung to forever.
Depending on the event and the person experiencing it, the grief process can take a long time. Suffering can seem unending, but it doesn’t have to be. I think the key here is to allow the energy of suffering to flow without blocking it or holding it down. In this way, it releases and is followed by freedom and joy.
There are many ways to cope with storms when they come. When clouds appear, if the rain falls, clouds dissipate and the sun shines again. It’s the same as your life. Pain comes. It stays awhile. The calm returns – if you let it back in.
To cultivate a practice of remaining centered in the face of storms, try the following:
- Breathe. Be aware of your breath in every moment.
- Consciously feel any sensations in your body, even discomfort. As emotional energy arises, it needs to move through and out. When sensations are avoided and ignored, they tend to bury themselves, percolate, then fester. We must realize it is okay to experience discomfort at times and to know it won’t last forever.
- Remember and repeat, “This too shall pass.”
- Each evening before you sleep, look inward and ask, “Am I holding onto suffering? Can I allow emotional energy to easily release?” Hold the conscious, deliberate intention that any fear, anxiety, worry or pain that arises within you will be quickly transformed and healed. Go forward knowing that whatever you encounter, you will remain in peace and balance. Your intention to do this will make it so.