“Life has no other discipline to impose, if we would but realise it, than to accept life unquestioningly. Everything we shut our eyes to, everything we run away from, everything we deny, denigrate, or despise, serves to defeat us in the end. What seems nasty, painful, evil, can become asource of beauty, joy, and strength, if faced with an open mind.” ~ Henry Miller.
Wanting to leave you satiated though not with ingestion, as it was such grand offering, read part one here: When Things Go Wrong—15 Tools Inspired By Eastern Wisdom to Find Stillness in a Storm.
Next month, returning to more writerly topics, elated to welcome storytelling aficionado Angela Ackerman, creator of One Stop For Writers, an online library like no other, and WRITERS HELPING WRITERS™, with her guest post: Vulnerability In Fiction: Teaching Jaded Characters How To Trust. For now though, here’s 8 more ways to find stillness in a storm:
Sitting with the Uneasiness in Meditation
Sometimes the only way to ride out the storm is to be as still as the eye of it. Just as if let to settle, even the most murky water can become clear again, so too can meditation calm and clear your mind, reconnecting you to your own inner stillness, ground, and centre you, no matter the challenges you face. It also awakens the compassion you have for others, as well as for yourself, which becomes all the more crucial in difficult or chaotic times.
“Practice sitting with uneasiness,” says Zen teacher and Buddhist monk, Lawrence Grecco. “Meditation practice is a wonderful method for observing impermanence and groundlessness up close and personal. The act of sitting, walking, or making a practice out of every aspect of our lives is the greatest way to fully understand what the true nature of reality really is.”
It’s also rich — as all life is rich — for our writing and art. “When we understand fundamental groundlessness through a direct experience of it, it becomes a source of gratitude rather than resistance. When we are able to cultivate grace within groundlessness by fully settling into things as they are, no matter what they are, the underlying changeability of things that initially seemed so frightening becomes the ultimate tool for awakening and being fully alive,” says Lawrence Grecco.
You may enjoy these 7 Reasons to Meditate if You Write or Make Art. Though if tricky times are equally hectic, find clarity and presence with this simple meditation for busy creatives or sample one of the many soothing tools in this offering.
Soothe Your Spirit with This Acupressure Technique
As one of the most calming points on the body, CV17 or the Sea of Tranquillity acupressure point delivers you just that. Because so many meridians cross at this point, its effects are as extensive as they are profound.
From soothing your being to calming overwhelm, anxiety, tension, or any kind of nervousness, CV17 (Conception Vessel 17) is particularly useful in the summer months as it is so nourishing to the heart. It can also help lessen feelings of loneliness, sadness, depression, anguish, and upsetting thoughts so it’s an especially useful, and potent point to know.
- See this image for the location, which is on the dead centre of your breastbone.
- Press with a gentle but firm pressure for one to two minutes.
- Alternatively, place your palm over this point and then move your whole hand in circles, first 9 times clockwise, then 9 times counterclockwise, which heats and massages this point. You’ll find it generates a softness, warmth, and feelings of soothing calm.
Meet Each Circumstance with Compassion
Self-compassion is a moment by moment awareness, a conscious turning away from that which further worsens how you feel. It’s being kind to yourself as you would someone you love, a series of choices wherein you choose that which nourishes and sustains you and your creativity, instead of creating a ‘second arrow’ for any difficulties happening now.
“Self-kindness means that we stop the constant self-judgement, and disparaging internal commentary that most of us have com to see as normal,” says pioneer in compassion research, and author of Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself, Dr. Kristin Neff. Even the most tricky times everything in life, no matter how challenging, can be met with grace, and your internal chatter reflect that.
“I remind myself that life is just as astonishing and loveable in this moment as it possibly could be in any age, under any circumstances—and that perhaps it is more impossibly dear when the fragility of all its delicate, uncontrollable interdependencies are lit up and starkly revealed,” says writer, designer, and author Pia Kealey.
“We are not here to fear and fret, or control the fire, which can be natural responses to the unknown. Rather, I believe, we are here to witness the beautiful and the abominable, to be strong in our strength and strong in our weakness, tempered by the heat, and to let our hearts love this unpredictable life wildly and beyond all reason.”
Uncertainty & Embracing the Interplay of Yin & Yang
“The essence of life is that it’s challenging. Sometimes it is sweet, and sometimes it is bitter. Sometimes your body tenses, and sometimes it relaxes or opens,” says Pema Chödrön, in her beautiful book, Uncertainty and feelings of displacement are as much a part of the human experience as joy, love and creativity are.
Life ebbs and flows much like the seasons that fold and fade before the next evolves into its own immaculate colours but regardless of these hues being the most brilliant and magical or catching you off guard with sudden rain, everything shifts, everything changes, everything is in a dynamic state of flux, such is the interplay of Yin and Yang.
“There are no wrong turns, only unexpected paths,” wrote poet, philosopher, and author, Mark Nepo. No matter constricting circumstances may be, no matter how unsettling or disheartening, give yourself the grace and space to see current circumstances from a more panoramic perspective. If we’re too close to a situation, unable to think freely, we can find ourselves as caught in our thoughts as we are by circumstance.
“Let go of certainty. The opposite isn’t uncertainty. It’s openness, curiosity and a willingness to embrace paradox,” says Tony Schwartz, founder of The Energy Project, and author of The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working. “The ultimate challenge is to accept ourselves exactly as we are, but never stop trying to learn and grow.” No end is ever complete without a new beginning stirring inside it, and nothing, no matter how displacing, remains the same. Like the lotus that blooms with both strength and beauty out of muddied darkness, you too will shine again.
Accept Life Unquestioningly—How to Weather the Storm Within
“Life has no other discipline to impose, if we would but realise it, than to accept life unquestioningly. Everything we shut our eyes to, everything we run away from, everything we deny, denigrate, or despise, serves to defeat us in the end. What seems nasty, painful, evil, can become asource of beauty, joy, and strength, if faced with an open mind,” wrote author and artist, Henry Miller.
“Every moment is a golden one for him who has the vision to recognize it as such.” When we open to the experience of life with acceptance, we stop fighting what is, and this creates space. One tool which helps create this detachment and awareness to augment this is to visualise your mind as a vast sky and your thoughts and feelings as passing clouds.
You do not try to grasp or alter the clouds in the sky and in the same sense, you simply allow yourself to feel what you feel but respond skilfully by not stopping on a single cloud, which would then have it become so dark and weighty, you’re destined for heavy rain. Wherever you rest your focus becomes your focus.
Pause a moment to simply be with the feelings passing through your internal skies — without trying to alter or change them, without judging them as good or bad, which is always a source of internal tension, & without reaching for anything to alter your state and therefore mask you, in a sense, from your own life experience.
Let each experience be the teacher, without masking pain & thereby masking the pleasures too. “The pleasurable and the painful are all of a piece,” says Pia Kealey.
“Things falling apart is a kind of testing and also a kind of healing,” says Pema Chödrön. “We think that the point is to pass the test or to overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don’t really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It’s just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy.”
Surrendering to and trusting this eternal process, instead of fighting it, resisting it, relinquishes the need to control that which exists outside yourself—delivering you to this place of acceptance, softening the struggle, and leaving you free to ride each wave, to bask in the sun that comes your way while weathering any storms or rain.
Sitting with the Shifts & Messiness of Life
“Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it without knowing what’s going to happen next,” said actress comedienne Gilda Radner. “Delicious ambiguity.” This delicious ambiguity reflects our own internal paradoxes for we are all multi-faceted, deeply layered, and gloriously flawed.
“We are complicated creatures, and ultimately, the balance comes from this understanding,” wrote poet and author, Victoria Erickson in Edge of Wonder: Notes from the Wildness of Being. So we must embrace the paradox and ride each wave for to mask the pain is to also mask the pleasure—to close ourselves off from the pure experience of living in all its colours.
“Half of me is filled with bursting words and half of me is painfully shy. I crave solitude yet also crave people. I want to pour life and love into everything yet also nurture my self-care and go gently. I want to live within the rush of primal, intuitive decision, yet also wish to sit and contemplate. This is the messiness of life—that we all carry multitudes, so must sit with the shifts. Be water. Flowing, flexible and soft. Subtly powerful and open. Wild and serene. Able to accept all changes, yet still led by the pull of steady tides. It is enough.”
Letting There Be Room for Not Knowing
There’s wisdom inherent in creating room for the uncertainty, for not knowing as even in the most unpredicted misadventure, there’s always opportunity, the chance that joy can push through the dark, deep soil, and grow, and evolve into something beautiful again. “Letting there be room for not knowing is the most important thing of all,” says Pema Chödrön.
“We never know if we’re going to fall flat or sit up tall. When there’s a big disappointment, we don’t know if that’s the end of the story. It may be just the beginning of a great adventure.” Though unless you first take risk, you cannot rise again, for you’d be safe at home, entirely oblivious to this wavering edge where the sweetest honey of life so often drips.
Many may be content to spend life in this way, tiptoeing safely to death but it masks the pleasure as much as the pain. “When we wall ourselves off from uncertainty, Trungpa Rinpoche said that we develop an ‘iron heart’. When someone develops a true friendship with themselves, the iron heart softens into something else. It becomes a vulnerable heart, a tender heart… a genuine heart of sadness, because it is a heart that is willing to be touched by pain and remain present,” says Pema Chödrön.
“It’s not so easy to do, but fortunately we have a method that can help us discover the courage. Meditation practice is a method for being with ourselves fully and completely, allowing the time and space to see it all with gentleness, kindness, and dead honesty. And when meditation practice has helped us to be honest and courageous enough to know ourselves in a deep way, we can begin to extend out and help others.
Be kind to yourself & remember…
“If you can sit quietly after difficult news, if in financial downturns you remain perfectly calm, if you can see your neighbors travel to fantastic places without a twinge of jealousy, if you can happily eat whatever is put on your plate and fall asleep after a day of running around without a drink or a pill, if you can always find contentment just where you are . . . . you are probably a dog.” ~ quoted from the beautiful book, A Lamp in the Darkness: Illuminating the Path Through Difficult Times by Jack Kornfield.
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Next week, returning to more writerly topics, elated to welcome storytelling aficionado Angela Ackerman, creator of One Stop For Writers, a powerhouse online library like no other, and WRITERS HELPING WRITERS™ – Home of The Bookshelf Muse, and her guest post: Vulnerability In Fiction: Teaching Jaded Characters How To Trust.
Angela’s the bestselling author of the brilliant The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide To Character Expressions series, and just launched this month, The Rural Setting Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Personal and Natural Places & The Urban Setting Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to City Spaces.