I have seen this in one form or another on lots of social media posts recently. Of course, this question is completely natural. These are unfamiliar and unprecedented times. So, our minds are trying to make sense of it all. That’s what our minds do. They try to rationalise, look for reason, look for structure, look for sense. And when our minds can’t find these things, we can fall deeply into a place of fear. Into a struggle with what is happening. We are at war. ‘This is crazy!’ ‘What’s going on?’ ‘This doesn’t make any sense! ‘ ‘When is it all going to stop, so we can go back to normal?’ ‘This is awful!’ ‘It’s a nightmare!’, ‘Help. Get me out of this!’
It’s frightening, not being able to find sense in what is happening. In worst cases, it can feel like drowning. Some of us may only have moments of feeling like this. Some of us may be in this state for most, if not all the time. If we’re lucky, we also have moments of feeling okay. A feeling of surrender – joy even. These may be the moments we are connecting with another part of us. Our soul. Unlike the mind, our soul does not need to make sense of things. Our soul is the cool one, sitting in the armchair with its feet up saying, ‘Hey, I’m okay with the mystery of it all.’
The problem is, most of us are much more connected to our minds than we are to our soul. We listen to our minds and believe them. ‘This doesn’t make any sense. What the hell is going on?!!!’ This is a frightening thought. It feels threatening. So we go into anxiety and fear. And that’s a painful place to be.
We want to feel okay, not anxious and frightened. So, what can we do?
Well, here’s the ‘trick’ (for want of a better word.) We cannot access the feeling of ‘okayness’ by trying to make the ‘not okayness’ go away. The feeling of ‘I’m okay’ comes from being okay with the non-okayness. Let’s take an example: I’m feeling anxious, and I don’t like it. I want to stop feeling anxious. I could try to do this in many ways – distracting myself with TV, food, work; denying my anxiety; pushing it away with alcohol, drugs, sugar; ignoring it; wishing I wasn’t feeling anxious; telling myself off for feeling anxious – and the list goes on. But, what I’m actually doing is going into battle with my anxious feelings. So now, I’m not only feeling anxious, but I’m also right in the centre of a war.
I know this, because I spent years and years doing it. And I suffered greatly. Then I discovered another way. I discovered that I can stop and listen to my anxiety, give it my attention, give it some space. When I say give it my attention, I’m not talking about believing my anxious thoughts – that’s just feeding the monster. I mean stopping, being still and connecting inside. Listening to my breath. Starting to feel the sensations in my body. Just listening and noticing them, without trying to fix them or change them. Giving them space to be. Allowing them to be just as they are. Allowing them to move. I discovered that when I do this, the struggle melts away. I feel the feelings, but I’m no longer at war.
Anxiety – or any emotion – is just that: E-motion. Energy in motion. Emotions need to be given space to move. Not to be pushed down or ignored. Feeling what is happening inside myself can be uncomfortable. Tears, shaking, trembling, nausea, pain – all these things may rise. So I let them. I bear them. I let them move. And once they have been allowed to move, there is often a spaciousness. A stillness again. A silence. Everything rises from silence and goes back into silence.
So, how do we make sense of this unprecedented time? We don’t.
Well. not in the way our mind wants us to. We can’t. So, let’s allow it to not make sense.
During this time, we need to spend more time connecting with our soul. The part of us that is okay with the non-sense, the mystery, the unknown. It is there in all of us. I connect with mine through meditation, dancing, laughing, playing, painting, writing, resting. Let’s connect as often as possible each day, to what is happening inside of us – and allow it to be as it is. Let’s allow our feelings, our sensations, to be as they are. When we allow what is happening inside us to be as it is, it becomes easier to allow what is happening outside, to be as it is.
Anita Kate is a Mind-Body therapist, healer and wellness coach. She is currently working online, to help people stay mentally and physically well, during this challenging time. To contact her email firstname.lastname@example.org