This time of fear and uncertainty, the anticipation of not knowing the outcome of our elections, of our future as a country, this unknown of how we will resolve this pandemic overtaking us, of the future of our life here on Earth—all of this makes it time to explore this Lostness. When we are thrown into a new place in our lives without any warning, I call this place “Lost at Sea”. This is an internal lostness, that we find ourselves in and it doesn’t have an ending or a beginning —we just find ourselves here without a rudder or a boat. The feelings associated with this lostness are fear, confusion and de-personalization, disorientation, despair, hopelessness.
Can you hold onto yourself and resist the fear-mongering system out there? Can you use your spiritual practices to get beneath the fear and feel the heart-opening place of connection that we are all craving? When you don’t react to the fear and drop deeper, you can offer presence and hope and calm connection to many who are feeling lost including yourself.
The first step is to name your feelings. When you can name your feelings you can begin to tame your fears and get more grounded. I call this “Finding a Mooring.” For me, today’s feelings are smoky and foggy like the days we have had so much this fall with our fires raging here in Colorado. One moment I think am here grounded with trees and mountains, and the next moment I can’t see anything and I am enshrouded in a smoky haze that covers my view. I feel frightened when I cannot see. I have to calm myself from the inside out by using my breath. I’ve learned that my breath is my best friend whenever I’m feeling fearful. It’s always there and when I breathe deep belly breaths I can bring myself to calmness and groundedness.
In Buddhist practice, this foggy, lost place is called the “in betweenness” —the Dharma place where we embrace total uncertainty by placing our focus on the in breath and the out breath, breathing in and breathing out where we can find spaciousness and support in this breath. Other spiritual traditions call these moments the “dark night of the soul” where we are lost and unclear, waiting for answers to come, like Jesus did in the Garden of Gethsemane before he was arrested. Prayer, meditation, breathing take us into our bodies and where we can learn how to embody steadiness, patience—the ability to embrace the unknown, the uncertainty and stay calm.
The second step is to actively slow down and bring in compassion to yourself. Then connect with these feelings mindfully in your body. Do this by bringing in kindness and warm touch to your heart, your body, to soften the hard edges of your fear and struggle. Notice the sensations of the fear and how it shows up inside of you. Can you allow these sensations to be here maybe a little bit? Because if you allow a small amount, overtime you may be able to tolerate more and stay more present and calm more often. Practicing slowing down and finding your grounding is the key to dealing with these places in our lives when we find ourselves “Lost at Sea”. It takes practice and support and connection–what we all are needing right now. Practice these tools for yourself now.
Join me in my next On-Line Wise Woman Practice Group coming up in 2022 as we continue to practice these mindful self-compassion tools together. Moving yourself from Stage 1: Lost at Sea to Stage 2: Finding a Mooring depends on your ability to self-compassionately practice slowing yourself down with your breath and being curious about your feelings.