By Joan Marlow —
Three big questions on our minds right now as we find ourselves ‘locked down’ with our families. I share ‘Who Knew?’ because there might be some of you thinking, ‘Who Knew in my lifetime I’d be experiencing a pandemic?’ That’s something that happens in other countries or in other centuries!! This can’t possibly be happening now to me! I have a life to live: I’m graduating this year; I was looking forward to my first prom; I had just gotten my first job to earn money for my insurance so I could get my license; my boyfriend had just told me he loved me; I despise my parents; I have nowhere to run from my brother who abuses me; my parents had just threatened to kick me out; my father’s an alcoholic and beats my mother; both my mother and father have lost their jobs and I think we’re going to be homeless. And now I’m ‘locked up’ in the house with them.
It feels pretty overwhelming at times. You are not alone with the sensation of overwhelm. Our lives are spinning out of control and we are finding ourselves ‘acting’ out in ways we might never have before. Our new routines are not our old routines and we miss our old routines where we had freedom of movement, freedom of connection, we had choices. Right now, we might be choosing to eat far more often than usual; we can’t sleep or all we want to do is sleep; we’re bored; we’re tired of being with these same people day in and day out; we miss our friends; we are sensing our parents are worried or we’re sensing that our parents aren’t taking this situation seriously enough and putting themselves and us at risk. We miss physical contact; yeah, we have Zoom and Facetime, but it’s not the same; I’m worried that my future will forever be impacted. There’s nowhere to run because I’m scared that I’m going to contract the Coronavirus. My mind is out of control. I am spinning out of control!!
Take a Breath
By simply practicing STOP, you are discovering the one thing you can control now and always, you always have the power to control what’s going on in your mind right now. You always have the power to control your thoughts, you also have the control over how you respond (vs react) to your own thoughts as well as how and what others are acting or saying. You know that consciously breathing will always clear your mind.
Now is the perfect time to look at what you can control, which is, you can control what’s going on in your mind in this moment. Now is the time to get back to the basics of this column, Mindfulness. Mindfulness is ‘conscious awareness of the present moment non-judgmentally.’ The practice of Mindfulness often wakes up feelings of calmness and peace….UMMMM, that sounds like something that would help me now!! The STOP exercise is one way to practice Mindfulness.
Practicing RAIN is another Mindfulness tool that offers support for working with intense and difficult emotions similar to what you might be experiencing now. It directs our attention in a clear, systematic way that cuts through confusion and stress. When you practice this regularly, it strengthens our capacity to bring new openness and calm to our daily lives. You can do this anywhere!! It’s a practice for our brain to move us out of the ‘spinning sensation’ to peaceful control. That’s something we all need NOW!!
Recognize what is happening
Allow life to be just as it is
Investigate what I’m feeling in my body now
Non-identification that it’s not ‘my emotion’ but ‘the emotion’ and then…
At first glance you might think this RAIN process is making you look or feel weak, alone and not helping you get the attention you desire as immediately as possible. In reality, this process builds inner strength and focus that has you outwardly appearing as strong, calm, in control. Both from the inside and outside, you’re going to be able to speak your truth and have others listen because you are demonstrating confidence by taking charge of the moment and not allowing emotions to get away from you so that you say or do something that you might regret later. You can build personal power and self-esteem by using the RAIN practice. Your body and mind will thank you for it.
Final note: Remember to Nurture yourself by being kinder to yourself throughout this process. Kindness is the quality of being friendly, generous and considerate in the same way we are with our friends!! Now it’s time to practice Kindness to yourself. As we take this time to practice kindness to ourselves, consider bringing this lesson of kindness with you as we create our personal ‘new normal’ when we get to leave our houses and get back to life. Each of us is experiencing change during this Pandemic. Maybe one of your changes will be to show yourself more kindness in circumstances that trigger intense emotions. Remember it’s an emotion; it doesn’t need to be your emotion. Let it be and let it go at the same time…