What is the first thing you do when your world caves in – through bad news or a shocking experience?
Christiane Wolf suggests that rather than having to face it – knowing you can’t force acceptance straight away, the best response is to ask yourself, ‘What is the kindest thing for me right now?’
When your World Caves in Catch your Balance
Your news will undoubtedly have knocked you off balance, you might feel as though your world has collapsed. Wolf suggests you bring a ‘fierce kindness’ towards yourself in order to help you feel balanced.
So what would help your wellbeing in this present moment? You may well have to deal with it in a practical way – sit down and drink a cup of tea, speak with a good friend, turn off all unnecessary technology that might continue to bombard you.
I contributed to a Wellbeing Afternoon at Queen Alexandra Hospital, Portsmouth, to a group of patients with Lymphoma. (Run by Macmillan Cancer). Two ladies I spoke with before-hand had only recently been given their news and were still reeling from the shock. Having a place to go for further information and help is an important part of feeling supported at this challenging time.
When Your World Caves in Be Still
After the initial shock, allow yourself to be still and hold a loving space for yourself to cry or experience any of a range of emotions.
Sometimes we do the opposite – we rush round keeping ourselves busy, we force ourselves to be strong, not to show any signs of ‘weakness’ and generally ignore our body’s real responses.
Whether or not you already have a mindfulness practice, you may be able to sit with your experience, become aware of your breath while observing and allowing all the emotions and thoughts that appear, to rise up and be there.
Your breath then becomes an anchor keeping you grounded as the waves of emotion threaten to wash you away. Be kind and compassionate with yourself at all times.
In times of great challenge, you may well be experiencing grief, anger or fear. Whatever it is, allow it to flow – hold the space lovingly for yourself, and not shut yourself down.
Jon Kabat-Zinn describes mindfulness meditation as a means to ‘weave your parachute’. So when you do experience difficult challenges, you have the resources within you to deal with them.
If you haven’t done much mindfulness meditation, perhaps you’ve read a bit about it and thought it sounds good, but haven’t really tried it, you can still do any of the suggestions here. Be kind and gentle to yourself, and keep asking yourself, ‘What is the kindest thing for me right now?’
You might be aware of your reaction to rush for one of your tried and tested reactions – the bottle of wine, a meltdown in the form of a tantrum, the desire to keep busy with work or other habits. Be curious about this, and see if there’s an alternative option – a brisk walk, a swim, some dancing or a movie.
Be Curious and Try one of the Following Meditations:
If you simply want to try a few minutes, to get the hang of being still, you could start with 3 minutes of calm here from Place of Serenity among others:
A range of free calming meditations to listen to from ‘Finding Peace in a Frantic World’ by Mark Williams and Danny Penman.
Tara Brach has a wonderful collection of audio meditations on her website. She talks about being your own refuge at all times: Choose one you like the sound of and follow her guidance.
You may naturally feel that getting out into nature is a supportive and healing thing to do. It really is.
Choose somewhere that feels right for you – a sandy beach, a woodland walk, alongside a river, a mountain or hill-top or even a local park or ornamental gardens. Walk with mindfulness – breathe in deeply and allow the air to fill your lungs.
Walk slowly so that you can fully embrace the sights, smells and sounds around you. Get some more tips from ‘How can walking meditation help you?’
And most of all, remember, ‘this too will pass’. Other humans in the world are feeling something similar to you too, and you can get through it … you may well be the stronger for it on the other side.
‘Be Still’ by The Fray
Mindfulness: Finding Peace in a Frantic World by Mark Williams and Danny Penman
True Refuge by Tara Brach
I have updated this blog since first published in September 2015