Hard times are inevitable. They are a natural part of life, and still, they can really shake things up for us. Although we may often times feel derailed when we experience challenges and pitfalls, without them life would probably get pretty boring. Being able to recognize the value in trying times and learning to navigate through it all is not something we are taught in school.
Although we each must learn for ourselves how to stay afloat in rough waters, here are some tips that will prevent a few wipe outs and even have you catching some waves with a smile on your face.
Don’t fight it
Our minds are programmed to actively survey our environment for danger and as a result we can fall into mental patterns that promote anxiety and stress. Our ancestors relied heavily on this for their survival in the wild but in our modern age we perpetuate this kind of seek and destroy mentality when it comes to our our personal and social issues. The more we try to deny, procrastinate, and distract ourselves from reality, the deeper we dive into conflict with it.
There is always something profound to be learned and discovered from our many trials and from what we are facing on a collective level. Shining light on the situation in this way we come to understand why we are having certain experiences and release ourselves from being stuck in state of confusion and anxiety.
Shift your Perspective – As we train ourselves to recognize suffering as an opportunity to grow, it becomes easier to relate to our suffering in a healthier, more evolved way. We can picture our difficulties as teachers, here to offer us different lessons throughout our life. We can also relate to those who we are in conflict with in the same way and ask ourselves, “What is the lesson here?”. In this space we have an easier time accepting the reality of our situation and will be able to discern the path of least resistance with ease.
Being of service
Building community is not only a great way to lend a hand to those in need but also provides a means for us to feel that we are part of the solution, giving us a sense of purpose. Providing charity for underserved groups, volunteering time and resources to benefit your local community, and striving to be a good samaritan or co-worker are all great ways to embody the spirit of service. Asking ourselves how our unique skills and talents can help others is a great place to start. We can do much more as a collective body than we can as individuals alone. So when the going gets tough it’s important to rally together and take care of one other. This is the true meaning of community.
Harmony and Stability
It’s essential to create harmony and stability when things are chaotic in and around us. Creating a peaceful, nurturing home is a wonderful way to instill a sense of wellbeing in body and mind. Make your home your sanctuary, your place of rest and rejuvenation.
- Clearing the clutter in your home creates a sense of spaciousness and openness and helps clear disorder in the mind as well.
- Burning candles and incense or using an essential oil diffuser in the house sets a great ambiance and, as a ritual, trains the mind to associate them with relaxation and comfort over time.
- Putting up pictures of loved ones or inspiring quotes.
- Keeping house plants are also great ways to make any space come alive.
Be creative and own your space, because we all deserve to have a place to recharge and truly come home to.
Be your Own Friend
It’s crucial that we play an active role in our own health and wellbeing, because if not you, then who? Learn to be your own friend. You can start by giving yourself an exam by taking inventory of your mental patterns, pleasant and unpleasant states of mind, and considering what areas you would like to improve in.
Reflecting on how your current way of being impacts yourself and those around you is an important step and will reveal a lot about the nature of your mental patterns and conditioning. From there you can prescribe a plan of positive action for yourself which can include
- dropping certain activities or habits
- implementing healthy ones in their place
- watching less news
- consulting your emails less often
- taking walks everyday
- saving 20 minutes for yourself in the morning/evening
It is important to implement new habits when dropping old ones to avoid falling back into your old patterns. This will likely be pretty different for everyone, but recognizing what makes you feel alive, safe, authentically yourself, and what brings a smile to your face are sure signs of moving forward in a positive direction. When we are able to play this kind of role in our own lives, we are better equipped to play a healing role in our communities.
Being aware of our limitations, boundaries, and our capacity is also helpful so that we do not overextend ourselves. Finding this balance can take time but is invaluable in navigating your way through the thick and thin of life.
Here is a simple, yet powerful meditation that nurtures wellbeing in the mind and body. You can direct the verses to yourself first (I), then to someone or a group who you care about (you), then towards someone or a group who you have difficulty with (you), and finally send that love out into the world (we).
Loving Kindness Meditation (Metta)
May I be filled with loving kindness.
May I be happy and safe.
May I be well in body and mind.
May I be free, with all sorrows ended.