How to bounce back

Sometimes in life, things are going well, and then something happens, and before you know it, you’ve gotten off track. Unpleasant surprises having to do with work, love, friendship, money, health, family, whatever we care about, can put us into an experience of suffering (aka “pain with a story”).

So what do you do to get back on track? Here’s what works for me:

  1. Realize it’s a process and there’s probably not an instant fix. Accept that you’re off track instead of pretending that everything is fine. Relax into it.
  2. Take care of your health. Go to bed and wake at the regular times. Eat healthy food, and not too much comfort food. Drink plenty of water. Exercise in whatever form you enjoy. Dance, run, do yoga, shadow-box. Move your body. A little sweat won’t hurt a bit, either. If you need inspiration, listen to this and try some of James Brown’s moves. You know he taught Michael Jackson how to dance:
  3. Let your emotions flow instead of suppressing them. Movement can help with this too. Walk around and make nonsense noises and start moving how you feel. Waaahhhhh! Grrrrrrr! Listen to music that helps you cry if tears feel blocked — this music can help:
     If you don’t feel safe expressing your feelings to another human being, write them out. Or get curious — what is the name of the emotion? Where in your body are you feeling it? How would your body like to move with this emotion? If you could dance it or see it dancing, what would that be like? What kind of music would it be dancing to? What color is it?
  4. Do something that will really make you feel better. There are tons of techniques that can be helpful. The Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) works for a lot of people. Now, this may seem crazy, but an even simpler technique for restoring emotional equilibrium is to slowly toss a small ball from hand to hand. While tossing it, slowly look toward the ceiling, close your eyes, and return your head to normal position. (It will take some practice to do this.) If you drop the ball, pick it up and start over (it’s easiest to do over a bed or sofa). It induces the feeling of being centered. Even 2 minutes of it shifts me. For theory and details on this, see Mind Juggling on Nelson Zink’s awesome website Navaching.
  5. Set boundaries that work for you. They don’t have to be permanent, but if you need a break from something that drains your energy, just take one. You being drained contributes to no one’s well-being. One of my favorite films of all time is Office Space. Make like Peter and don’t give a damn. You don’t have to drink the Kool-Aid. Savor your own mojo, and don’t give it away to the unappreciative.
  6. Think happy thoughts, imagine happy pictures, feel the good experiences you’ve had again. Do you know someone who has a radiant smile? Imagine their wonderful face. Has someone been particularly kind to you? Remember that feeling. What words do you like to hear? “Everything is going to be all right” is very soothing. Really, who the hell knows how everything is going to be, but saying that to yourself can feel comforting. Also, I have a big envelope full of cards, letters, and photos that people have given me over the past few years. When I pull that out and look through it, I feel reconnected with the good will of these people who’ve cared enough about me to make that effort. (Reminds me to make more of an effort myself toward that end.)
  7. Do something spiritual. Could be meditation, an act of kindness, reading spiritual books or listening to audiotapes, feeling gratitude, forgiving those who’ve hurt you. Even laughing, because laughter is a gift from the gods. Here’s James Altucher’s hilarious blog post on 60 second meditations. (I love washing dishes.)

This has been my favorite blog post to write, because I wrote it to help myself bounce back. So I guess 8. would be to write up your own methods of bouncing back, testing each step.

Before you know it, you’ve returned to your healthy self.

How to lose and find something with equanimity

This past Saturday morning, I prepared to go to a weekend workshop, Harmonics of Healing, with Tom Best and Steve Daniel. (Tom is my long-time NLP trainer, whom I now assist at trainings, and Steve is a didgeridoo player and sound healer extraordinaire.) Held at the Tree of Life Sanctuary in Radiance south of Austin, I was planning to sleep over and packing my sleeping bag, ice chest, and the various items I’d need over the weekend.

I got everything loaded in my car. Ready to leave, I reached in my shoulder bag for my keys — and they weren’t there.

Searched bag. Searched front seat, floor, sides of passenger seat, all around driver’s seat. Checked ground between front door and car.

No keys.

Thought maybe I’d left them inside the house, now locked. Climbed in through a window and searched. No keys.

Perhaps because I was on my way to a workshop/retreat, I began observing myself. I realized that every time I lose something, it’s as if I’ve never lost anything before. I seethe with impatience and frustration and arrogance.

How dare those keys go missing right when I’m ready to leave?

Just that bit of self-awareness helped me slow down and realize that I’ve lost things many times before. This is not a new experience.  There is something familiar about this. The Native American tradition gave us Trickster. When items go missing, it’s Trickster, playing games.

My keys are hiding from me! How cute! How precocious of them! What a surprise!

From this perspective, losing my keys became very, very funny! I called Katie and told her my keys were hiding from me, and that I didn’t know when I’d be there. I was smiling as I called.

I also noticed that I had switched from mainland time to island time. Trickster feeds off pomposity and arrogance and loves to make people look like buffoons. Getting present instead of racing ahead mentally to the next thing is one of the best things to do.

I remembered a technique for lessening anxiety called Mind Juggling, and that is to toss a ball from hand to hand with my eyes gazing up. The activity and eye direction change one’s state. I got out a tennis ball and began tossing it from hand to hand, gazing up to where the wall meets the ceiling.

After a bit, I got an impulse to bring in some yoga props from the back seat of my car. I’d been intending to do that for a while. Why not now?

As I was removing yoga blocks, from the corner of my eye, I saw my keys on the ledge behind the seat. Just where I’d set them when I had loaded the car, cramming the ice chest in.

I had completely filtered that out from my memory.

Ahhhh. Game over. I win. Thank you, Trickster, for your lessons and the stretching I develop to meet the moment.

Keys in hand, I locked the house and went to my workshop/retreat, which was lovely.

When I got home Sunday evening, I unloaded the car and put things away. I made myself a cup of tea and was ready to sit down and check email.

Guess what? No laptop. And no keyboard, mouse, carrying case, DVD/VCR player, antique flute.

My house had been burglarized.

Stay tuned for more about loss.