We all have times when we’re faced with fears or challenges. It’s part of life.
But sometimes those challenges seem overwhelming. Our minds blow them up into crises, replaying the many terrifying, possible scenarios over and over again in our minds, until we become agitated, anxious, or immobilized.
Are any of those scenarios actually happening? Chances are pretty good that they aren’t. But our bodies do not know the difference. When the mind creates images and thoughts that are fearful, our bodies react with the same chemicals that are produced when we are faced with a true threat to our life.
Which means that we are creating unnecessary stress and trauma in our minds, with little or no basis in reality. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
Does this help us solve the problem? Not likely. It’s only harming us, with little if any benefit.
You don’t have to do this. You can bring your mind back to reality, and back to inner peace. The yogis call this Santosha. It’s the inner feeling of contentment, of accepting what is, of knowing that underneath all the external appearances, we’re OK. It’s a solid foundation within.
Tapping into Santosha allows you to better respond when in difficult situations. What is more effective in a crisis – becoming stressed and freaking out, or remaining calm, cool, and collected?
Here are some simple steps to help return you to Santosha. Because Santosha is always within you. It’s just that sometimes we forget and lose our way there.
1) Breathe. That’s always the first step, no matter what you’re doing. Be conscious of your breath. This helps to bring you back to reality in this present moment (chances are, you’re just sitting here, breathing, in front of the computer, not actually in the scenario you’re playing over and over in your head.)
2) Assess the situation. Take some time to consider what is actually and presently occurring in the situation. Stick with the facts.
3) Feel your emotions. Running away from the fear, or trying to deny it, only serves to intensify the emotion. Feel the sensations of the emotion in your body, like tension, pressure, or restlessness, and breathe into the sensations. If you give this some time, they’ll begin to shift.
4) Consider your choices. Come up with a list of your options to respond to the situation, including no response at all. Feel into the ramifications of each action.
5) Act. Do what is appropriate to do right now. It can include the decision to wait a few days before you decide how to act. It may also include no action, prayer, offering loving support, setting a firm boundary, asking for help. You may realize you can’t do anything right now. Just see what is available and appropriate right now.
6) Let it go. When you’ve taken whatever action feels right and is appropriate to do right now, then let it go. When we let go, we let God, as it is often said. This allows something greater than us to do the big work. It is an act of trust that there are larger shoulders than us that carry this situation. It also is a recognition that there is nothing else for you to do right now. If you need to follow up with another action at a later date, you’ll know.
7) Breathe. Return yourself to this moment, just as it is. Breathing in, breathing out.
Check in with yourself. After doing all seven steps, feel the shift out of the mind and into the present. When we’re in the present, Santosha awaits us, wondering where we’ve been.
Copyright © 2013 by Constance L. Habash
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