February 20th, 2018
Guest writer for Wake Up World
In my own life and the lives of most people around me, time seems to be moving swiftly, and it is accompanied by lots of change, both personally and collectively. Frankly, at times, the pace is a bit much. I barely get settled before the next wave comes in, disrupting my assumptions, my routine and my security.
Granted, I work for myself. Uncertainty goes with the territory of living from gig to gig, client to client. What I’m talking about is bigger than that. It’s that feeling that life is spinning out of control, and that our normal decisions pale in comparison with natural disasters, the threat of war and the fear of not being safe. On top of that, many people in my life are confronting major health issues, marriages crumbling, aging parents, adult children unwilling or unable to leave the nest, job dissatisfaction, major moves to new cities and countries, loneliness… and the list goes on.
What to do?
In my experience, the best approach is to stay present with what is — no turning away — without resistance. Getting all caught up in a mental spin only makes it worse for you and those around you. Instead, when my fear wakes me up in the middle of the night demanding I focus on what is wrong or missing or problematic in my life right now, I remember my spiritual toolbox. I reach in and access breathing techniques and soothing prayers, along with anything else I find including affirmations, visualizations, reminders of the bigger picture of who I am, gratitude lists, etc. By the time I’ve used a couple of these tools, my heart rate is back to normal and I’m able to go back to sleep.
Filling up your spiritual toolbox takes time, and it is well worth the investment of practice and cultivation. I sometimes refer to it as a spiritual bank account. The trick is to invest in it before you need it, so that when you need it, it’s overflowing with tools you’ve used and tested and had some degree of success with. That way when life hits the panic button, you’re prepared. Think of it as your emotional disaster preparation kit.
I promise you that it works. I’m living proof of that. In fact, it’s the only way I’ve been able to move through all the changes and uncertainty I’ve experienced in the past five years.
There are no magic bullets, shortcuts or secrets that can accomplish the same thing. Believe me I’ve looked. All of the most basic tenets of the spiritual path: acceptance, surrender, presence, compassion, kindness and love are more than just good ideas–they are the best tools there are for navigating life. It took me some really painful life lessons before I finally got this. However, once I started using these tenets as tools and part of a daily practice, I saw their true value.
Now I know that peace and comfort are accessible even when I’m anxious or terrified, when nothing makes sense.
Learning to self-sooth is a wonderful discovery. It’s free. It can be accessed at any time, anywhere. It works. It’s great for your health. It connects you with your inner strength. It’s not dependent on mood-altering substances, other people or material objects. It gets stronger the more you use it. It shifts your perspective. All the side effects are positive.
It’s difficult to argue with that.
But don’t take my word for it. Try it for yourself. As things continue to unravel in the world around us, having a toolbox or preparedness kit will allow you to move through the changes in your life with more comfort and ease.
Perhaps someday these tools will become a natural part of everyday life for all of us. In the meantime, now is perfect time to begin.
Also by Victoria Fann:
- Relationships – The Four Golden Threads
- Turning Down the Volume of the External World
- The Alchemy of Groups
About the author:
Victoria Fann is a writer, transformational coach, community builder and practical mystic. The foundation of her work was inspired by her time at Esalen as well as her training and inner work with many of the early founders and teachers of the human potential movement. She has been writing essays, short stories, plays and screenplays for over three decades. Her writing has been published in numerous publications and anthologies including Wake Up World, Women of Wisdom, Newsweek, Thought Catalog, Elephant Journal, Snapping Twig, Medium, BioStories. Her book, Creative Alchemy: Accessing the Extraordinary Power of the Muse to Transform Your Art and Your Life will be published this year.