Most of the time, life is pretty decent. I can easily see all the amazing gifts in my life and I walk around in a blissful state of peace. But, some weeks…some weeks are filled with relentless frustration. Just hit after hit after hit. Allow me to set the scene for you.
Your car won’t start and you barely have enough in your bank account to afford groceries for the week, let alone rent a car for the week. But you watch some YouTube videos and rig a fix for the car and it works! Once. But then it really breaks down in the grocery store parking lot…in the rain…with your windows permanently rolled down. This time, you are looking at thousands of dollars of work needed to fix it. No more YouTube fixes.
But that’s OK, because you are expecting a huge check to arrive and the confirmation said it would arrive in 2-5 business days. Life is going to be OK!
But, shoot, now that you have no car, how will you get to that super important, life-changing job interview tomorrow that’s 45 mins away? Luckily, your friends let you borrow their car for the interview. You are confident the check will arrive and solve all your problems and the universe will reward you for your high vibes.
You resign yourself to using a loaner company car at your vehicle-reliant night job, even if it means you have to walk 20 minutes to work and 20 minutes home at 4am. It’s temporary. This too shall pass! So far, you’ve been able to keep your spirits high and focus on gratitude. Your vibes are soaring, even in the midst of trial.
Guess what? It’s EIGHT BUSINESS DAYS LATER and your check has not arrived, and you have no idea if, and when, it ever will. Every day waiting for the mail feels like torture, because, of course, your mailman doesn’t deliver mail until 5:30pm.
Because you have no car, you aren’t able to take your kids for the week, as is your usual schedule. So now the kids and your ex are affected and you are missing the children terribly, having not seen them for an entire week. You have no idea when you will be able to take them back, or if it will even be this week. Your mind starts to unravel a bit and your emotions are on overload.
You are thankful that you have plenty of food to get through the week, but your car insurance payment just bounced and two other bills are threatening disconnect by the end of the month if you don’t pay now. Oh, and rent is due in a week.
Just so you know, this was not a creative writing exercise. This was literally my life in the not too distant past. On the night of the full moon, it only seemed fitting that I hit my breaking point of stress, emotion, and fear.
Quite honestly, the only way I was able to get through that hellish week was with meditation. I am so grateful that I started my meditating a little over a year ago…and that I have accumulated over 5,500 minutes (93 hours) of meditation practice since that first day. I don’t say that to boast. I simply don’t know how I would handle stress of this magnitude if I didn’t have this as a part of my daily routine. It has become a safety net for rare times like these when I question how I will ever make it to the other side.
HELPFUL TIP: I currently use a meditation app called Simple Habit, which you can download for free and pay to upgrade, if you like. Simple Habit is like the Spotify of meditation – lots of different guided meditation instructors, some unguided, and a series for almost anything you can imagine! And most of their meditations are only 5 minutes long, for beginners. I highly recommend it!
At this time, I am not an affiliate partner with Simple Habit and this is not a sponsored post (although, I am not against some sort of arrangement of this nature!) But I want you to know that this is a genuine recommendation from my heart.
Let me tell you about five ways meditation soothes my soul when the s%*t hits the fan.
- Meditation makes space for complex emotions.
I truly believe that, when you get right down to it, all situations in life are a choice between FEAR and LOVE. When I am overwhelmed by negative emotions, my fear takes over and my imagination runs wild with horrible outcomes. I feel overtaken by anxiety, to the point of panic. Sometimes I have an actual, physical panic attack. Sitting down to meditate during these times is a conscious choice and a clear signal to my mind that I am looking to find a path to love. When I go into meditation, I go with an intention of examining myself without judgment, to try to work through the difficult emotions. The goal is to create a quiet, safe space to experience whatever needs to be experienced.
- Meditation illuminates old narratives.
The magic of meditation begins when I slow down enough to scan my heart and emotions in an objective way. I’m not looking to determine right or wrong. I’m simply trying to name the emotions. On that insanely stressful day not so long ago, for instance, it was Sadness.
Once I realized I was sad, I asked, “Why?” My answer was, “Because I miss my kids. And because I’ve felt my entire life that I would never be fully taken care of. We never had money as kids and my parents did their best, but our daily lives impressed upon me at a young age that there was never going to be enough money. In my first marriage, I was the only one that worked for 12 years. I worked myself to the bone and couldn’t rely on anyone else to help me. I can’t trust anyone but myself to handle things. And there was never enough. I have never been enough. I don’t feel safe or secure. I never have. And I am sad because I worry that I never will.”
A lot of times, if you allow yourself to go deep enough to uncover a past narrative, you will be shocked at what presents itself to your mind! All of that spilled out of my heart and I wasn’t expecting any of it! Do you see how this is much deeper than labeling the thought, “I’m sad”? You have to gather the courage to go deep. It’s the only way to experience the next three steps and find some sort of way out of your fear wilderness.
- Meditation leads to gentle self-correction and self-comfort.
Once I am able to identify my old narratives, I can gently lean in and practice self-comfort and self-correction. I start by comforting myself, as if I’m comforting a child (because that is, in essence, what I am doing when I comfort the part of myself that is replaying harmful narratives from childhood).
I will think to myself, “It’s OK. You’re safe right now. In this moment, you are secure. I’m so sorry you are feeling this fear, based on all the things you’ve always known in your life. You have worked so hard and you are not a failure. But you have changed. And you are in control of how you view your life. You know this. You believe different things about the universe and the world now. These old narratives do not line up with what you say you believe now. You are a believer now. You trust the universe to take care of you. You aren’t a person who gives in to fear and depression. You are a beautiful and courageous soul. And you know you will make it through this, as you’ve made it through every situation you’ve ever encountered. Will you really never see your kids again? Come on, you know that’s an exaggeration. Is the world going to end or is someone going to die if certain bills don’t get paid exactly on time? Will you eventually figure out this car situation? Haven’t you always? Haven’t you come through every single hard thing the world has ever thrown at you and forgotten about it later? Aren’t you just fine in this moment? Aren’t you completely safe right now? Aren’t you grateful for all the ways things have miraculously worked out this week, even if it seemed very small in comparison to the problems? Couldn’t this week have been so much worse without those precious gifts?”
- Meditation turns my heart toward gratitude.
It should be no surprise that, once I get to this point, I seamlessly flow into gratitude. It’s just a natural result of gentle self-comfort and self-correction. When I have shifted my focus away from the fear, the love begins to trickle in slowly at first, then to flow like a healthy river. Once I truly see a few things that I need to be thankful for, it’s like a light switch is flipped and I can suddenly see so many other things! Sometimes, my heart fills with so many blessings, I feel tears falling from my eyes. These tears are no longer terrified, frustrated tears (the kind I spilled going into meditation)…they are happy tears.
- Meditation reminds me to return again and again.
When I finally open my eyes, I feel like a brand new person. Serene. Clean. Hopeful. But I am smart enough to understand myself and my propensity for allowing fear to squeeze me in a vice grip with very little notice. This feeling won’t last forever. I realize, even in this somewhat blissful state, that I will need to come back to this place again tomorrow. I am constantly bombarded by outside influences that naturally foist fear upon me. Thankfully, meditation is a practice. And I know I need to do it daily, and sometimes several times a day.
When I say meditation has changed my life, I’m not just throwing those words around like a trite quotable. I lived with fear as my Ruler for almost 40 years of my life and I had no control over my emotions. I was rarely able to soothe myself in situations like this. It was such an excruciating way to live.
These terrible times in life when the s%*t hits the fan aren’t ever going away. They will continue to arrive when you are most satisfied and things seem to be going so well. But the steps I’ve laid out above are a practical way to find a path out of the overwhelming toxicity of negative emotions. After a good meditation session, I feel cleansed, refreshed, and ready to choose love and courage one more time.
In what ways have you seen meditation work for you at the most difficult points in your life? I’d love to hear your stories in the comments below.
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