Part of life, in or out of recovery, is being in the unknown. While moments of sublime clarity, those glorious “AHAs” happen, confusion and absolutely not having clear answers happens, too. Right? I don’t know about you, but I like to have confident clarity, to know the next step to take in any given situation. Clear direction brings with it a sense of security, of control, of well-being. I like all of these. When the road ahead is unclear, when I just don’t know what to do next, I often feel scared. Fear leads to more of the same. Thoughts grab on and panic sets in. No fun. I have gathered quite a collection in my tool box of techniques from time spent in the unknown. Many lessons have come from not knowing what to do, from being in the grasp of fear and from getting through it. Even when I feel afraid, when the confusion of how to move ahead is intense and overwhelming, I have found that it is possible to get centered and relax whether answers come right away or not! When I am unsure of how to “get it right” or “fix the problem” I am facing (whether real or imagined), here are a few of tools I use that might assist you, too.
· Breathe! Breath is one of life’s constants, always available to steer the tone of our day, perspective and experience. How often this tool is taken for granted, until something gets in its way! When I get anxious, my breath gets shallow and short if I don’t pay attention to it. Slowing down and taking deep, conscious breaths is a quick solution to feeling fear and anxiety. Notice how it feels to physically pause and breathe in and out through your nose. Your body gets the message that it is safe to relax when the breath comes in and out of the nose cavity rather than through the mouth. Fun fact, right? Go ahead, try it. Get present and breathe, you have more control than you might think.
· Say a little prayer. Asking for help frees us from the responsibility to know it all. It also paves the way for support to show up. No experience is necessary to pray with success. The invitation for assistance can be as simple as “Life, please help me. I am open to guidance and could really use some!” In fact, keeping it simple is often exactly what is needed for clarity to come. If you aren’t a fan of the concept of prayer, or God talk in general, reading a prayer or poem someone else has written works, too. Life has a way of taking care of the details. Prayer is an act of recognizing that there is something bigger than we are and the ultimate control to make things happen is not solely ours. Marianne Williamson says it well:
“Within the Mind of God, there is a blueprint for the perfect unfoldment of all things. All that is good becomes great and all that is dark becomes light. Divine Mind exists within us, it is not outside of us. We pray and meditate in order to align our personal minds with the Mind of God; we thus become conduits for the energy that when extended onto the earth, lifts all things to divine right order.”
Why not try it out? Go ahead, say a little prayer, open up and let some light in.
· Move your body. A racing mind and a stagnant body is not a good combination. When I catch myself on that mental hamster wheel, my focus has zeroed in on the mind, To shift this energy and regain some balance, I get my body moving and - voila - the rampant thoughts tend to calm down. It might take five minute, it might take forty five minutes but the wheel does slow eventually. Whether you are taking the dog for a neighborhood walk, hula hooping in your living room (one of my favorites), or joining a group class at a local gym, shifting from the mental environment to that of the physical is powerful stuff. Tension relief comes when the body moves. Goodbye tension, hello relaxation. In a relaxed state, we are able to align with life from a more desirable place.
· Check in with the basics. The acronym, HALT, is a staple in many recovery communities. It is a reminder to ask: are you hungry, angry, lonely or tired? Taking care of our foundational needs is important and so easy to gloss over in times of stress. Don’t know what to do next? Get plugged in with your needs and tend to them as they are recognized. Hungry? Grab a snack and some water. Angry? Journal your frustrations to get the pent up energy out. Lonely? Call someone from your clan, make a call to share appreciation for a friend, or strike up a conversation with a passerby in the store. We are all connected, sometimes we just forget. Tired? If you can, sit down for a few minutes and let your body and mind unwind. If you can’t take a snooze or even sit down at the moment, use that handy breath work to get centered where you are now.
· Imagine the possibilities. What if there was no confusion, problem, or issue? Seriously, what would you feel or do if the quandary simply didn’t exist? Step into the landscape of what you desire, problem-free. Using the power of thought can bring the peace, ease, harmony, solution, relaxation, and anything else you want to feel into this moment right now. The mind doesn’t know the difference between physical reality and imagination. Act as if everything if taken care of and see how it feels. Practice living in the feeling of the solution that is coming, because resolution is coming.
Even when the perfect next step to take isn’t clear, there are plenty of ways that you can move forward. Using the tools you do have in the moment will create space for more clarity to come in. When all else fails, just breathe and remember that this too shall pass.
Embracing the unknown and getting in the Flow,
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Darcy Helene Meehan
As an advocate of Reinvention + Recovery, I work with clients to achieve balance, alignment and purpose in all areas