Mindfulness practice strengthens our ability to cope with life’s challenges. But what happens when you find yourself in the midst of an event or life changing situation that was beyond your control?
Mindfulness exercises can help. We can bring attention to the breath, breathe from the tummy (rather than the chest), witness the physical sensations in the body and recognise the emotional and thought patterns associated with them. We can be deliberate, tune into self talk and breathe through the sensations.
But what if the voices keep coming back? How do you manage anxiety when in the grip of one of those cyclic self deprecating self talk storms. You know, those violent clashes between head and heart where you keep telling yourself ‘I should know better’, ‘I should have done it differently’, or ‘why is this happening to me’. You breathe, you sit in the discomfort and the ache is overwhelming. Your heart leaps from your chest in a desperate attempt to escape the chamber holding it captive. Your skin crawls because it feels like a billion insects have taken residence beneath it. Your mind is a swirling vortex where nothing seems safe.
Breathe you say to yourself. Breathe from the tummy. Ride it out.
But, even as the storm subsides, a dull ache remains. In the aftermath, the devastation is obvious. A new storm threatens as you realise all the work ahead just to pick yourself up and move through the day.
This is where we need more than mindfulness. Mindfulness is a beginning. Used regularly it builds the mental fitness to keep us at the top of our game. It helps maintain a healthy heart mind connection. However, life can throw us extreme events. Life shattering, split the ground beneath your feet moments. Although mindfulness training can halt a complete breakdown, it may not be enough.
In these times, I have found solace in strengths and the techniques of narrative. I remind myself to ask,
- ‘Is this my story?’
- “Is this what I want my story to be?’
- ‘What do I need to write to move me through to the next phase of the narrative – to the resolution?’
Then I act. I personify my talents and create a plan for moving forward. The opportunity to be creative brings me a measure of peace. I journal. I write for an audience and I share my story. I look for it to be reflected back to me – I place it where it will be evaluated. I want to see what it looks like from the outside as an objective experience. Here is where I learn, grow and contribute.
However, the next step is harder still. I have to actually do what I have written. This is where the support of friends and family is a life line. A hug, a word of acceptance, recognition for an accomplishment. This is a time to ask for help and be open to receiving it.
Living a mindful strengths based narrative is a choice. It offers a way forward. However it can not remain a mental activity. It requires active participation in life.
Choose how to live again.
Nicole is a Gallup Certified Strengths Coach, Trained meditation teacher and Narrative Coach, based in Sydney. She helps people find their true path and connect to meaningful relationships. Talk to her today and learn how to unlock your innate talents. Develop the relaxation and mindfulness habits that allow you to manage your mind. If you’d like to know more about improving your communication skills and using your innate patterns of thought, feeling and behaviour, contact Nicole today. We can arrange face to face consultations on the Gold Coast or Sydney. Alternatively ask about our Zoom sessions.
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