I just moved cross country. The chaos, uncertainty and number of lost and broken items could throw any go-with-the-flow mantra out the window. Simply put, planes, trains and automobiles was my reality.
Whether you’re a confused post-college graduate, running a household of six, or growth-hacking your small business empire… change is hard. And my life definitely faces no exception to this difficulty.
Flexibility to circumstance, emotions and mentality remains a great challenge no matter who you are or where you come from. However, with time and practice, it does get easier to soften into the unexpected and release your need for control.
Now, it’s all simple and breezy to outline what’s needed to surrender your resistance in the abstract but metaphysical discussions don’t make for very helpful action steps. I typically find myself getting really controlling or upset about minor things that, in the past, would have been treated with more fluidity and acceptance.
For example, say my best friend is having a busy, stressful day at work. I text her. She doesn’t text back. In a world of acceptance and non-resistance, I would understand that she is very busy, still loves and cares for me, and will reach out when she can.
However, in a bubble of uncontrollable, hazy uncertainty, I fall into old patterns of anxious and insecure attachments believing one of the many circling thoughts: Did I do something wrong? Does she not like me anymore? Should I have not texted her? Should I have sent a different text? Maybe if I send a picture or an emoji she’ll respond? Would that make me look too desperate? What will she think of me?
Basically, I begin micromanaging someone else’s reality… which ultimately is and will always be out of my control. But, this does not stop the loop from occurring — for me or anyone.
At the end of one’s rope, what this situation inevitably comes down to is: What can you actually do when you’re in a phase where there is nothing to hold on to?
You let go.
I’m not sure what you’re thinking right about now but I do know what I was thinking the first (and thousandth) time someone told me this…
Let me explain. Letting go does not mean bypassing the emotional, physical or mental turmoil helplessness inherently brings to the surface. In fact, the greatest and most productive way through something is to face it head on.
So, you remember that friend who didn’t text back? Instead of thought-looping yourself into more paralyzing anxiety and insecurity, pause.
Now feel. Where in your body does this fear emanate from? Is it throbbing in your chest? Churning in your stomach? Close your eyes if that helps and shift your attention towards your physical sensations.
After you’ve located the sensation in your body, sit with it. “Sit with it” means allowing the pain to be present in your body without pushing it away or condemning its presence. This is the worst and probably most challenging part but I promise it passes with unconditional acceptance.
Sometimes the pain will seep to a different area, sometimes dissipate. Sometimes the pain will expand larger than your body but just keep sitting with it. Notice what it does like watching a cloud move. Ask how it changes? Color, sensation, intensity, location?
Next, once you have developed an unattached relationship to this “pain” you have just located and watched… you are going to ask it where it came from. Yes, you are going to talk to your body and the pain. It seems weird because it is weird. But, just like releasing control, the awkward novelty will wear away into comfortable adaptability. I promise.
I cannot say what your pain will reveal to you. That is only between you and your body. What I can say, however, is that physical pain is almost always a manifestation of prolonged mental and emotional suffering.
Your mind strategically stores trauma in your body until it is ready to be processed and released. If you do not address the trauma as it comes up, physical illness ensues. So sitting with your pain and allowing whatever comes up through this process to fully surface will be of great benefit in:
The life phases of complete and utter uncertainty are never fun. You are having to learn how to let go of what no longer serves you so that you can make room for who you want to be.
Often times, you will find yourself entering this “lost phase” upon fully deciding to grow beyond your current way of life. It sort of sucks but hey, I didn’t make the rules. I just noticed them.
But we can use this information to our advantage and apply our accumulated resources to support us through the rocky growing-pains along our timeline.
Yoga has been one of my favorite outlets for strengthening emotional, spiritual, mental and physical resilience to the past and present. With a gentle, meditative approach, vinyasa, hatha and restorative practices provide a tangible way to cultivate the intangible skills required to soften into the flow of uncertainty.
The body-awareness exercise detailed above is best complimented with a mindfulness practice, whatever that looks like for you. Whether that be meditation, mindful walking, meditative journaling or yoga itself, there are thousands of ways to internally reflect from that observer perspective.
Mindful movement strengthens the neural pathways in your prefrontal cortex and signals to your body that the present is different (and safer) than the past. It is truly an empowering place enabling yourself to rewire past conditioning.
Over time and with consistent practice, you can begin reclaiming more of yourself. Going with the flow becomes your natural state. Life stops happening to you but with you — supporting, holding and guiding each step.
All you have to “do” today is let go.
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Urban Fit Yoga posts relevant, inspiring, and nourishing tools to support you along your healing journey. We believe that the benefits of yoga can extend far off your mat and we want to help!