I reflected today that I'm using odd terminology! I never talk in these terms but a few times now I've found myself saying to people 'it's still business as usual'. Who am I kidding! Deeper reflection, I am attempting to self-soothe I suspect, also trying to maintain an air of positivity, a sense of calm and reassurance for those around me. But it's also lacking in acknowledgement that any of this is usual - it sure isn't.
I'm at A (a place of stress and anxiety) and I want to get to B (a place of calm and peace).
Also known as striving.
When we strive, our gaze is future focussed and we are saying that where we are now, isn't acceptable. When we look nostalgically in the rear-view mirror, we are mourning a loss…'how I wish it was this time last year, life was so simple then'. Neither of these approaches will work. All they do is heap on more stress, additional layers of suffering, tougher emotions for us to process. And we are not in the present!
Learning to accept the situation we find ourselves in may sound defeatist, it's anything but. Acceptance does not imply inaction, it merely invites us to say 'you know what, this situations sucks ass, it's worrying not knowing how long this will last for, how many people will be affected, how many jobs may be lost. We cannot change where we find ourselves in this moment in time, it is futile to strive for it to be different. At its simplest, Coronavirus is impacting our people's health and well-being, our economies, causing worry, fear, uncertainty, loss of life, distrust and more.
However, we can alter the relationship we have with this challenge. For once we accept, we are not future-focused, we are not backward focussed, we are in the moment – and yes, it's tough, but ironically is all that we have.
So how do we practice acceptance?
We must sit with A! The paradox of Mindfulness:
Acknowledge and learn to understand what stress and worry are like for you. Allow yourself to gently stop trying to push it away, our very efforts not to feel anxious or stressed are what keep us tied to that very experience!
Where do you feel anxiety in your body, what do you notice about it? Can you notice if it ebbs and flows, does it change? Is it always in the same place, is there anything nice about it? Sometimes for example when my shoulders are tense – there is a warmth to this – it’s often unnoticed in every other sensation I have, but it’s there.
Simply bringing our awareness to A – to our current experience can change that experience – even if it’s just slightly. When we bring awareness to an experience it can also bring a certain amount of calm and chances are, we then get to B by sitting with A. It might take a lot of time, this isn’t an easy fix, but with practice we can get a lot better at really understanding ourselves. And it’s the willingness to have that experience.
Alongside the above find some quiet time where you won't be disrupted, look to the sky, notice the sound of birds, check out mother nature. Mindful practice doesn't have to be onerous; it can be short moment by moment awareness, but you might just find the pay-off comes when you do it a little more often.