Week 6: Bouncing Back From Challenging Times
Resilience: The ability of a person to adjust to or recover readily from illness, adversity, major life changes, etc; buoyancy (dictionary.com) As I read this definition, the first thought I have is "Wow, how nice it would be to simply bounce back from whatever has us down at any given moment." A wonderful concept - resilience - but how does a person pull themselves out of the dark shadow of a current obstacle/situation? How do we overcome something that has seemingly devastated us? With help, encouragement, support, and willpower - that's how. If you feel like you're all alone and don't have anyone to encourage or support you - Professional assistance from a doctor, counselor, therapist, life coach, helpline, etc ... are all ways to ensure we are not alone on our journey in recovery from adversity.
It is not easy, AT ALL, to bounce back from some things in life ... or to BEND WITH THE WIND and not break. However, we CAN come back and come back stronger ... with self compassion, awareness, confidence and determination. Let's start on this journey together this week.
There are some things in life that seem quite difficult in the moment, but we know deep down we'll get through it somehow and end up on the other side of it, gaining a strength we didn't realize we had. There are other things in life that are devastatingly difficult to move through, get over, and move on from. Those are the times when professional assistance is a tool we would greatly benefit from using.
Along with professional support and support from people we trust enough to hold our hand in the darkness, guiding us to the light of hope and recovery, there are things we can do to help ourselves.
Giving ourselves a purpose each and every day, to get up and be active.
On those days where getting out of bed seems like too much of a task, having even ONE reason, ONE chore that needs to be done is enough. Get out of bed to wash your face, then sit in a different room from the one you were just in. The next day, expand your purpose to wash your face and brush your teeth, then go sit in a different room. On the third day, wash your face, brush your teeth, and make yourself check the mail or walk to the driveway/parking lot and back. Each day choose one new thing to add to your purpose.
Before going to bed the night before, write down what your purpose will be for the next day. When creating a purpose-driven list, you are making it real and making yourself accountable for this list. The nice thing about purpose-driven accountability lists is that you don't have to even think about it when you wake up - just pick up your list and follow the instructions from the night before.
Before you know it, you'll be thinking of other things that need to be done, or that you want to get accomplished. Even if the situation or occurrence that left you feeling beat down and defeated is so overwhelming and unbearable that you feel stuck, remember that you CAN move past it, you CAN move forward. One moment at a time, one purpose at a time. Give yourself permission to engage in ONE item from your list and take a rest afterward if needed. Once you get started, you may find yourself automatically engaging in another item from your list. As time goes on, you may feel a sense of clarity start to unfold and be able to do more and more, building self confidence, strength, and perseverance as you go.
Eventually you'll find that you are able to sit with, and feel the emotions around the situation/event that knocked you down, and those emotions will not have as big of a hold over you. The more you practice, the less and less of a hold it will be, eventually freeing you from its tight grasp.
One such way of practicing this is to sit down with a professional counselor who is trained to assist you in moving through situations.
In addition, sitting in meditation or concentration while focusing on opposites is a practice that has helped me. Some therapists may help you by doing this very exercise. This is something I learned through Yoga Nidra meditation.
A simple activity (not meditation) to try: Go to your kitchen and grab a glass, fill it with ice and water. Grab a coffee/tea mug and fill it with warm/hot water (not too hot). Pick up and hold the warm mug of coffee/liquid for about 10 seconds and concentrate on what you physically feel. Put that mug down and hold the glass of ice-cold water/liquid for about 10 seconds, concentrating on what you physically feel. Go back and forth between these opposites a few times focusing on the physical feeling of each of them individually. NOW, hold them both at the same time (one in each hand) and focus on the feeling of both the warmth and the cold simultaneously. You'll be learning to literally sit with two opposite things at the same time without letting either of them affect you very much. This is something we can do while sitting in meditation or concentration without doing the actual activity. Once we can relax and calm the mind down a little, we start focusing on mundane opposites such as hot/cold, rainy weather/sunny weather, boredom/excitement, etc ... and work slowly toward things that bother us. This week's meditations have us practicing this type of concentration. If you don't feel ready to listen to them, not to worry - when you're ready, you'll know it. The meditations will still be here for you to try.
To accompany the meditations this week, we'll go over alternate nostril breathing in two different videos. This type of breathing is very calming and helps us to focus on the 'hear and now' instead of whatever it is that has us in it's tight grasp.
The Go-To sheet below is a great way to remind us, every day, that we CAN and WILL bounce back from whatever happens in our lives that seems to halt us in our tracks.
Even if you can't listen to the meditations just yet, print out the Go-To sheet and place multiple copies around your house, in your car, at work or school, etc ... I still have mine on my refrigerator and look at it every morning and evening. Somedays I read all the affirmations, some days I only read one or two, but they always remind me that whatever happens that day - it will be ok in the end. It also reminds me of the strength I've gained through the many obstacles and unfortunate events I've managed to move past (some not as easy as others). You ARE strong and resilient - You WILL come back stronger with more wind in your sails to carry you forward. Enjoy the meditations, PDF printout and videos below. You got this!
Here is this week's Printable PDF ... print as many as you need and place one in your car, on your desk, on your fridge - wherever you may need a reminder.
This week's guided meditation links via InsightTimer: