Autumn's Anxious Arrival: Finding Inner Peace during Times of Transition
Autumn has arrived and right on cue, she brings an air of transition. A time when, outwardly, we feel the temperatures drop, watch the leaves change hue and grab for more layers to prepare for the coming cold; Fall is also the time when we tend to feel anxious or apprehensive as we look down the calendar at the coming holidays and eventually, the new year. Next thing we know, these feelings over what the future holds brings along many more questions and concerns that have been hiding; waiting for us to experience some of our own transformations.
I have a personal mantra. "Everything Will Be Okay" and it may sound cliche, but at the end of the day, this is how I feel. I honestly hold fast to the belief that I'm doing what I am supposed to do, that there is more love circulating in the world than there is fear or hate and that I am right where I need to be in the universe. Unfortunately, it's when I become disconnected from this truth that I begin down a path of worrying too much; thereby creating an environment of inner unrest. It just so happens, I habitually become more introspective as the Fall season approaches. There is always a lingering fear that I'm running out of time! Time needed to accomplish the rest of my goals or plans.
This year's transition into Fall has been particularly hard for me. I have felt "stuck" and "unaccomplished" in certain areas of my life, (most recently in my job), and it's caused me to feel flustered and discouraged about the choices I've made to get here. This cruel unrest lures me to compare myself to others who seem to "have it all figured out"... These thoughts and the doubt I feel are exhausting... but ultimately false. (Going back to my personal mantra.)
Unfortunately, if left unchecked, these beliefs can manifest themselves as our Truth if we allow ourselves to feed that worry and inner doubt. To keep from turning these doubts and fears into a reality, we must be proactive in altering how we view ourselves and our thoughts in those moments. This helps to keep us mindful in our decisions, grateful for our opportunities and fully connected to the positive nature of the change we're witnessing.
Whether these anxious thoughts come up in areas of our outer life, (i.e. jobs, relationships, social groups, etc.) or whether we experience more of an inner doubt over what the future holds, the important thing to remember is that WE have the power to relieve, even remove these uneasy feelings. All it takes is the courage, willingness and love of self to face our next steps.
So, the questions become how can we ease the mind from any worry or over-thinking during the season's transformation? How do we reconcile our "inner" world with our outward experiences? And what practices can we incorporate to calm feelings of unrest during these transitions?
I don't have all the answers, but here are some ways that I ease my own doubts and transform my thoughts for the good:
1. Remember... "It's YOUR unique experience... not theirs."
No one else can be me and no one else can be YOU. No one else can live out our personal experiences, so why compare that with others paths or choices? No one's perception of the world will be the same as mine or yours. It's totally individualized. We have all made decisions, both good and bad, that have lead us to this point in life, but only I have been presented with the opportunities that have lead ME to where I am RIGHT NOW. The same goes for you! Your experiences are unique to your own reality. Therefore, in moments where our heads are FULL of doubts, thoughts of "what if this," or "wouldn't it be great if that," remember that you are right where you need to be. You have the power and choice to shape your present reality, so don't get caught up in what other people want from you. It's your life, your choices. Not theirs.
2. "Gratitude is the Attitude"
In moments when I'm feeling down or discouraged, a way I bring myself out of my slump is by remembering what I'm grateful to have. I remind myself of the awesome gifts of which I have been blessed. You can do the same thing! You can even go a step further by writing things down on sticky notes to then put them up around your home, in your car or at your work. State what your grateful for, such as "I have a loving family, a wonderful boyfriend and a great dog." "I am blessed with a roof to sleep under, clothes to keep me warm and enough money to afford food." "I am thankful to have some of this world's most beautiful people as friends and to have them in several places across the country." Look at them everyday. It's in these moments of looking into our own grateful soul that our worry and unrest are relieved. It dissipates each time we read these little notes and it's right then, we know that everything will be okay.
3. Practice Inversions
Whether they're mild inversions, where the hips are slightly higher than the heart, such as in Bridge Pose or Legs up the Wall, or fully articulated postures, like Headstand, Handstand or Shoulderstand; these asanas are great to clear the mind. They require the breath, our dharana, or one-pointed concentration, and time. (Time because the longer we hold our inversions, the greater the benefits.)
So, what happens when you invert? When we take the hips higher than the heart, we encourage the lower half of the body to drain old blood and lymph fluids from areas that can become energetically stagnant. (i.e. the legs and feet.) This drainage helps those systems of the body, the circulatory and endocrine, to re-oxygenate and replenish those areas. We are literally flushing new life and energy into our bodies. How could we not feel alive and uplifted after that? By practicing at least one inversion for 5-10 minutes everyday, you can improve your mental focus, build a deeper and healthier connection with your physical body and grow our intrinsic connection to the Divine Conscious Self.
4. Get the Body Moving!
Take a Hot Yoga class or spin class, go for a run or bring your friends to a group fitness class... Seriously, anything that gets your heart rate up and makes you sweat is a great way to pull yourself out of a funk. Not only do these things require you to move and stay coordinated, (i.e. getting out of your head and away from your doubts) but you'll have something healthy and wonderful to focus on and laugh about afterwards!
5. Find Your Tribe
Make sure to surround yourself with people who build you up. Life is simply too precious to waste on people who only offer negativity. Our anxious thoughts alone are too much to handle sometimes, let alone other people's experiences or opinions. Find YOUR people! The fun ones. The weird ones. The ones who only make you cry because you're laughing so hard. These are your Tribe. These are the folks that will guide you in times of frustration, bolster you up when you're down and remind you why you're here. It's these folks who we must hold onto and surround ourselves with as much as possible.
6. Take Time Back for Yourself
Whether it's through meditation, a long bath, a massage or journaling, a great book or a vacation... shit even a whole bottle of wine; it doesn't matter what you do. Just make sure its for YOU. The benefits of holding space for our own self care and repose are huge. Feeling replenished. New experiences. A deeper appreciation for our place in the world. Truly too many to list... Go ahead. Treat yo'self!
7. Remember to Breathe. Remember to Smile.
Yes, it sounds cheesy, but taking a moment to "watch" our breath can be a great way to re-center the mind. Most people don't realize their breath is very shallow; meaning they are only drawing air into the tops of the lungs as compared to the lungs full capacity. (Breathing is an involuntary function of the body, so it's easy to become disconnected from it.) Therefore, when we feel uneasy or caught up in our thoughts, take 10 slow and full breaths. I'm talking breathing all the way into our toes full. It is incredibly therapeutic and helps to clear the mind of all that extraneous chatter.
And SMILE! Smile even when you don't want to. Not a half ass smile either. A big one that shows all your teeth and goes from ear to ear. Scientists have literally proven that when we smile, it makes us feel better. Plus, it takes far less muscles to smile than is does to worry or frown... So, bring on those smile lines.
Thanks for reading!