What happens when we are practicing all the right things with our health and wellbeing, but then life throws us a curveball (or several)?
Having been through incredible changes in the last few months, I have come to see first hand that even when you use everything in your "toolbox", that sometimes they don't work the way you may anticipate.
How do we navigate when we are meditating, practicing mindfulness, eating well and exercising, but suddenly these methods seem to desert us? Or don't seem to be enough to do the trick?
The last months have been full of challenges I have not expected. I've probably been more vulnerable in many ways than I've been for a very long time, and I think there is a fear around opening up when life is not necessarily going to plan, especially being an advocate for so many good coping practices.
I know through talking to other health practitioners, that even with all of our tools, that everyone has their struggles. Many healers, mindfulness teachers and coaches have become so because they've been through some tough life experiences. And although they have a lot of knowledge on how to deal with them, it also doesn't mean that they don't experience stress, depression, or times when life hits them hard.
Many of us also do the hard yards on healing situations from the past, and we think we've moved on, only for them to come back to bite us with an unexpected double whammy!
So does it mean these practices don't work?
Honestly when my heart is beating a million miles an hour in the fight or flight mode, I would probably be inclined to say no.
However then I go back to, "What would I be like if I didn't have these practices?" What if I wasn't meditating, doing breath work, good diet and exercise? More than likely crawled up in the foetal position!
Instead, I generally feel relatively even, in fairly stormy waters, and tend towards happiness rather than sadness.
And importantly, I'm sticking with them. I turn up to that meditation class even when I feel like I'll never be able to relax, I sit down to write the things I'm grateful for, even though beforehand I may feel nothing may come (plenty always do), and more often that not, even when I want to stuff it down with a pizza, chocolate and red wine, I choose the healthy alternative.
I have also been doing my best to keep an awareness of my thoughts and watch how I am reacting to things, sort of keeping a birds eye objective opinion on what is happening, and it allows to have some clearer perspective.
The other big key has been acceptance of what is, which I believe plays a huge part.
Accepting when you are in those moments where you might not be able to feel in control of your emotions, or your stress levels. Rather than trying to fight against it all, to simply sit with what is there. "Hey I'm totally anxious, but I'm okay anyway". Or "I'm really sad today, but that's alright".
I know with every part of my being that all these methods, slowly but surely are getting me through. It's also increasing my learning as I strive to find different approaches, new practitioners, and developing my practices to deal with new ways of being. In the longer term, I know that can flow on to how I help others in the future.
I honestly feel that these times have come to test me in many ways, to make me re-evaluate how I handle situations, kind of like now I have been given all this knowledge the universe is going "Hey, lets test you out!!"
And I think I pass most of the time, but we are also human, and we'll all continue to face challenges on whichever path we take.
To be able to communicate openly and honestly about where we are at, and letting it be okay when we have times of difficulty, is incredibly beneficial to our state of mind.
For me, I do wonder what I should share and what I should keep private in this forum. However if someone who does have all these tools sweeps it under the carpet and pretends everything is always okay, how do people that may not have as much experience with these tools manage? Or even if you are a seasoned wellbeing expert, if you're made to feel shame around your vulnerabilities?
Creating an environment that is safe and where we can support each other, is vital to keep us a part of a thriving community. The more as a collective we make it okay to discuss hard topics without judgement, makes them harder to fly under the radar, and assists us to move through them with more ease to get to the other side
All the above being said, I do also believe that we are also always given a choice, and overall I do make a choice to be happy. Even if I have to keep reminding myself, and choosing over and over again when things are tricky. It does ultimately work, and even the days, or even weeks it doesn't, I allow it to be okay, knowing quite likely the next time I choose, it will if I keep persisting.
Life is not perfect, situations are not always what we wish them to be, but we can consciously choose how we deal with them from day to day. Even if it is just taking a minute of mindful breathing to bring you back into equilibrium.
So as I continue to learn, I love that you are all here with me.