Awareness gives us hope of another possibility

To say that the world is in a mess right now can seem like an understatement. Most of the globe is struggling with a second wave of the pandemic and many worry about the capacity of government to manage the situation. Many in the UK and elsewhere feel pessimistic about the future, both personally and for others and their country. Many are losing loved ones to the disease and/or losing their jobs. There are warnings that it is likely to get worse before it gets better. It can feel like this is the only possibility. In this situation it is easy to lose hope and to despair.

Losing hope, depression, despair – these things are a cycle that once we get locked into can be hard to get out of. We might give up on what can change for the better. Yet, hard though it can be to imagine, things do move on, and things can change. Nothing stays the same. Impermanance. All is in movement, often indiscernible, small, subtle shifts, or big changes. They can start to appear dimly on the horizon, like the beginnings of the dawn after a long, dark night, or they might be flashes of light, as the sun rises on a new day, and all can suddenly seem different. Despair is replaced by hope. We see things differently now.

Now we see but a poor reflection, then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part, then I shall fully know, even as I am fully known, wrote Paul to the Corinthians. He went on to say,  And now these three remain, faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. (Bible, 1, Corinthians, 13)

There is another possibility

Hard though it can be to see through the gloom, there is another possibility. There is always another possibility, where the light shines and we feel hopeful once again. We might not just see it at the moment. To get there, we need faith and hope, but our underlying driving force is love.

When caught up in despair, we are disconnected from faith, hope and love.

What’s important for the mindful self-aware is to notice when we are caught up. This is the crucial first step, to become aware. To get it. We might still feel caught up, but we know what we’re doing, and there’s probably a part of us that knows it doesn’t serve us.

Then we need to step back from being caught up. This is the act of will, a choice, to get off it, to let go of what “caught-upness” we’re into.

So, breathe deeply, breathe out long, and then breathe in deeply again, as it were down to the diaphragm, breathing down into your stomach, where the fears can dwell, and feel the release of tension and upset as we breathe out long and let go of all that stuff. Let it all go. Breathe it out and blow it away.

You might need to repeat that.

That’s when you can no longer be attached to being “caught up”, but instead be aware of that state as if you are the observer of it, that in a sense it is “not you” but just a state you got into. You’re now the witness of it.

Now you can rest as the witness, in the relaxed, released state of Being, knowing, as you are fully known.

Being fully aware

When we become aware, step back and become the witness, we are in the moment, rather than “in a state”. We can be present with our selves. Then we very likely can connect with love, our state of Being.

This is real freedom, what we have inside us, the “other possibility” that we’d lost touch with while “in a state”.

Then we are better able to support ourselves and then also better able to support others through this crisis. This is a far stronger state, when we are grounded and anchored in our Being, not getting attached, caught up and fearful, and very importantly not letting our buttons be pushed by others around us who aren’t so aligned.

Stay strong, everybody, and take great care.

How to be present when others are losing it

Do you struggle to know how to be present with someone when they are upset or angry, or when you are tired or going through it yourself? I’m very often struck by how people can lack the ability to “be with” people emotionally, especially those who work professionally with people in challenging situations. It’s like our buttons get pushed or we feel inadequate or lack the resources we need. Somehow, people say, they “aren’t qualified” to handle it.

It will be all right
It will be all right

When people kick off

I remember once on a Gestalt training course unpacking a whole load of grief around the impact of divorce on my contact with my younger son, and how I verbalised it to the group in a way that the facilitator later said she was “out of it” for the duration of my work. I recall she was a parent herself. So this can challenge even seasoned professionals. Luckily I had another who  worked with me.

Yet this doesn’t just apply to professionals. Anybody can face this at times. What about when your partner kicks off about some hurt or pain and it’s you that happens to be there – and they need you to be there? What do you do? Do you do what so many do, and shift about uncomfortably, tell people “not to mind” and “it will be OK”, and not get upset, etc? Who are you really helping here, the person kicking off, or actually you yourself? Are you really telling them to stop?

What we don’t like is being faced with powerful emotions that tap into our own stuff, especially if it touches our own doubts and inadequacies. Yet, there are resources available, if you choose to access them.

Being resourceful: self awareness and self management

One is self awareness and self management, in this case the ability to be aware of your own process and how your buttons can get triggered by other people’s stuff. It helps to know yourself enough to know what is your stuff in this situation, of course! This is often all about personal development – that doing your own journey bit, dare I say, that many of us are today afraid to do. It is also about how you self manage, in this case choose not to get caught up in your own stuff but put it on one side, the rule of epoché in Gestalt terms.

Presence

Another is the ability to be present, to be right there in the moment, thoughts and feelings on pause (I’ll say more about that in a moment), in the “here and now”, still in yourself, centred, at One as I keep writing on this blog, connected with some energy  centre or chakra within like your heart centre region or, in the case of powerful emotion, perhaps your power centre in the  solar plexus region. So that you are aligned with  Source as you are “with” another. “Being with” is all about being present with them. So you are truly “with” them, in support, with mind, body and soul, right there in the moment.

Empathy and respect

Your stance matters hugely too. So think about  it. Here is needed Carl Rogers’ empathy and unconditional positive regard. So you respect utterly the other person right there where they are and what is going on for them. No judgement (this can be tough, but it really matters). No conditions attached. In fact  you  are unattached to everything, including how you feel. You have to let go of all that. And you empathise with them, which is to seek as far as humanly possible to see things from their perspective, although  you cannot “know how they feel”. Thus you can hear their story. And you hear it like you get it. So that they feel heard, which is what so many people need. They may not need to be fixed (which is what so many men try to do  with  women, by the way!). Here’s where you truly stop and be with them in their pain.

Then they will feel supported. You don’t have to take their side, or agree with them, or blame them. Just be there. In peace, bringing peace. Om shanti.

I coach people and give training in these core skills. To contact  me, click here

Manage your mind to still your busy mind and be at peace

It’s a common complaint that I hear from people, that their minds are too busy, they can’t get it to be still, they are constantly plagued by negative or unhelpful thoughts, or simple are unable to switch off. It’s no surprise in today’s very stressful life but it’s not something limited to stress situations. Your mind can take you to hell and back if you’re not careful. This is where having the skill to manage your mind is so important. The mind is a maleable instrument and we can deal with these tendencies if we choose.

In yoga and other eastern practices, there’s a very strong emphasis on managing the mind, of knowing what’s going on “between the ears” so to speak, and choosing intentionally to manage it, to put it on one side, to drop it, to let it go, or to undertake self enquiry to learn more deeply what it’s really about and what it has to teach us about who we are.

In yoga and other disciplines, doing practices like hatha yoga and meditation are designed to help us become present, come “into the moment”, and let go of what’s “on the mind”. We can be aware of the Now as Eckhart Tolle calls it, where we can access “portals to the unmanifest” (The Power of Now) if we so choose too.

Managing the mind is also very practical. It enables us to pause and put on hold what’s troubling us, to centre ourselves, connect with our essential Self as I was writing above, and Be as who we are as we make contact with the world. Thus it is a valuable practice in “self-management”, as it is known in Emotional Intelligence circles, where we exercise self-control. Thus we are able to put on one side whatever emotional stuff is going on for us and rise above it. We can in yogic terms be the witness of our process, not absorbed in it.

So part of the work is to get to know that still space within, and meditation is good for this. However we also need self awareness, to be able to “read” what’s going on for us, to develop greater self knowledge, and thus have greater clarity on what we need to manage. Then we can use techniques in managing the mind to deal with what’s going on, let go and enter our centred state.