Mindfulness in Times of Chaos
Life is full of unexpected, stressful, and difficult periods and events. Whenever these challenging times arise, it is easy to feel overwhelmed, overworked, and overall dissatisfied with your life. Even more worrisome is that humans often ignore these feelings or chalk them up to weakness whenever they arise. This causes this situation to feel even worse, creating a never-ending cycle of stress, anger, and dissatisfaction.
To stop the cycle head-on, we must recognize how we are feeling, understand the situation fully, and take active steps to be more compassionate to ourselves and problem-solve our way out of the situation. For many people, stopping the cycle is really difficult. Either they feel as though their feelings are not important or rational or they feel as though they can handle their emotions simply by ignoring them.
Many people especially ignore their feelings whenever they feel like this situation is not “bad” enough to warrant their emotions. One damaging thing humans do is comparing ourselves to others. When you compare your difficult situation to that of another, it is easy to feel as though your situation is not that bad and that you should simply get over it. This causes the situation to compound until emotions explode.
WHAT COUNTS AS A “TIME OF CHAOS?”
To avoid making the mistake of discounting your emotions, it is important to recognize when a situation is difficult, challenging, or chaotic for you. Every person has their own limits, meaning you should not compare your chaotic times to that of another.
In short, a chaotic time is anything that leaves you feeling stressed, overwhelmed, overworked, or chaotic. It does not matter what the situation or event was. The only thing that matters is how you feel in response to the situation. This can include your actual emotions, as well as how you plan to react to the situation.
Anything from a failed test to a death in the family can count as a time of chaos. It is important to accept that anything that causes you to feel negatively and disrupts your emotional balance counts as a chaotic time. You owe it to yourself to accept this fact so you can learn tools to better navigate those times in a healthy and functional manner.
NEGATIVE EFFECTS OF CHAOTIC TIMES
It is important to correctly navigate our feelings and responses during chaotic times. Many studies have shown that chaotic events or periods result in costly and life-altering health effects. For example, poorly- managed chaotic times can lead to the following:
- Increased stress
- Increased anxiety
- Cardiovascular diseases
- Work burnout
- Poor relationships
HOW MINDFULNESS HELPS
To combat these unwanted health effects, it is important to healthily manage ourselves during these times. Mindfulness is one of the best ways to learn how to find your calm amidst a chaotic storm. By practicing mindfulness, you can learn how to better comprehend the issue at hand, connect your rationality to your emotions, and respond to people and yourself in a more compassionate and respectful way.
Simply by practicing mindfulness every day, you will be able to better handle any situation that comes your way. It will help you to become more compassionate and resilient, allowing you to tackle all of life’s challenges confidently and eagerly.
Life is full of hardships, challenges, and chaos. If we do not properly handle ourselves during these difficult times, our body, mind, and spirit can and will suffer. Luckily, mindfulness is one tool for combatting feelings of stress or inadequacy during times of chaos. It allows us to calm down, better connect to our rationality, and respond respectfully and compassionately.
Our brains are fully capable of being in the present, but it does not come naturally to many people, especially in modern-day living. This makes mindfulness hard when you are first getting started, and people often want to give up after trying, because it takes actual work to retrain the neuroreceptors in your brain to achieve mindfulness.
However, with a little training and some dedication, it WILL get easier, I promise!
Mindfulness training is essentially how we strengthen our mindfulness capabilities of the brain. With this training, you can train your brain on how to become more and more mindful. The more you practice, the easier it will be, and the more you will benefit from the training.
I will give you two easy mindfulness exercises to add to your toolbox. You can incorporate them into your daily routine, or use them as needed.
Mindfulness Meditation Exercise – “The Observer”
This exercise is intended to be used in your meditation practice. It is simple and will help you reach a state of mindfulness. Keep practicing it, until it becomes easy and familiar.
- Sit down in a comfortable position and breathe in deeply until you feel your body relax.
- Let your eyes close and focus your awareness on your breath going in and out.
- Move your awareness around your body, one part at a time, noticing sensations of cold, hot, tight, sore and anything else you can identify.
- After a few minutes of doing this, start listening to sounds in the room, without thinking about them. Just listen, while still maintaining an awareness of your body and your breath.
- When it feels right, open your eyes and look around as if you are seeing your surroundings for the first time.
- Let your eyes rest on an object for half a minute, examining it without talking about it in your mind, all the while keeping your internal awareness on your body and breath.
- Keep moving to another object, and another, while still maintaining that awareness of your body, your breathing, and any sounds.
- Stay in this state of mindful observation for a few minutes, until you are ready to get up.
When you feel yourself in a state of calm and feel ‘present’ in the moment, you may get up and go about your day.
When you are aware of your body, breath and immediate environment, you are more fully “in the moment.”
Your mind is in a receptive state, with fewer mental distractions that can prevent clear thinking.
This little exercise can be done anytime you need help focusing and is a great tool to have in your mindfulness toolbox.
Simple Emergency Mindfulness Exercise
Anytime you are stressing out, angry, or just feel off in some way – STOP what you are doing!
Immediately check in with your mind and see what thoughts are running through it. You may be anticipating something bad to happen, or perhaps you have critical and negative voices going on just below the surface of your consciousness, or you’re worried about something, or in physical pain in some way.
Notice everything you can about how your body feels and what emotions are swirling around. Even if you can’t stop the spiral from happening, simply observe yourself spiraling from a state of non-judgment and compassion to help you see what is causing the reaction.
Emotional spirals are not easy to stop without tools for self-regulation. When we are actively healing trauma and abuse, we usually do not have any tools that we understand how to use fully. This simple act of observing is POWERFUL and over time it will get easier and easier, to where you will be able to stop a spiral from happening.
Once you are able to stop the spiral, by turning your focus inward, you can then become adept at ‘flipping the script’. For example, if you had a running narrative of something negative, affirm the direct opposite into your being while you imagine golden white Light flowing around you. If you are in a private setting, say those affirmations out loud for extra emphasis. Breathe in the Light until you have regulated your emotional body and feel the energetic shift in your being.
Overall, mindfulness is crucial to develop in order to heal fully and be of service to those around us.