No doubt you’ve heard the saying “Perspective is Everything.” I was thinking about this phrase the other day when a memory of a very tough time I lived through, surfaced.
During a period of 4 years, I suddenly lost many loved ones. Truly, they were as close to my heart as one could get so to lose 8 of them in 4 years, and with 3 of them dying within a six-week period, it was traumatic to say the least.
Looking back at this time, I often referred to it as a ‘brutal’ period in my life. The word seemed to sum up the gut wrenching extraction of loved ones quite well. Then something changed. I interviewed Emmanuel Jal.
In preparation for the January 2013 interview, I read his book “War Child”. The seemingly unending horrors he lived through was nothing short of a shock to my system. At one point early on in the book I remember thinking to myself “My God, he’s not even 8 years old yet, how am I going to get through the rest of this book?”.
There were times when I actually had to put the book down and walk away from it because I couldn’t take in any more of the pain he was describing. But I would always return, telling myself that if he had the courage to survive it, then I would have the courage to read and bare witness to his story.
Reading his book, speaking with him and hearing his stories of abject horror and pain, only to be followed by triumph and peace changed me forever and in so many ways. One of which is that I no longer refer to that painful period in my life as brutal. Yes, it was gut wrenching, heartbreaking and devastating beyond anything I had ever experienced but I no longer describe it as ‘brutal’.
What Emmanuel Jal experienced as a child was, in every way, the true definition of the word ‘brutality’ and out of respect for that child and what he lived through, I made the decision to never again use this word to describe what I experienced.
What I didn’t expect was how freeing this would be.
When I changed my perspective regarding my loss and saw it within the context of a greater whole, taking into consideration and having such deep, all encompassing compassion for what another lived through, I unknowingly freed myself from a subtle prison of pain.
I don’t make the mistake of diminishing how difficult a time it was for me but I now choose to see it as one experience within the greater context of the collective human experience and that for me spells F R E E D O M !
I can’t think of one single person on the planet who couldn’t benefit from this today. Click here and take the next 2 minutes (or much longer, if you prefer) to Listen…….Breathe……..Let Go………..Allow……….and simply Be……..
Can you imagine what would happen if everyone did this today? There would be a greater sense of calm in the hearts, minds, bodies and actions of all people and as a result, this Earth would know more Peace.
Pausing helps you re-center yourself so that you can hear your truth, connect with your heart, calm your mind and bring needed rest to your body. It allows you to respond mindfully giving deeper meaning to your actions, and greatly facilitates meaningful, respectful communication.
Will it be possible for you to go from living at break-neck speed to being fully present in every single moment? Probably not, however small steps repeated consistently over time create profound and long lasting change.
So take time out to Pause as often as you can during the course of a day. Right now it may only be for a couple of minutes at a time and that’s okay, for instance while sipping your morning coffee or sitting at a traffic light. Be in this moment as if nothing else in the Universe exists but this moment.
Ask your senses to shake off their drowsiness and fully experience everything that is happening. Challenge yourself to discover beauty in each of these moments. Dare yourself to find something for which you are truly grateful. In doing so you will greatly increase the value and meaning of each moment you’re living and ultimately the quality of your life.
Begin with the link I’ve given you above. Two minutes. That’s all it takes.
Letting go. There’s a universe of wisdom in those two words.
Think of all the things you hold on to: fear, control, painful memories, non-productive habits/routine/behaviours/thinking patterns, the list is endless. Being able to let go, to surrender and allow yourself to step into your greatness is a cornerstone of Soul Conscious Living. I will write much more about this in the entry ‘Surrender’ but for now, a question: How do you begin letting go when everything inside you is telling you to hold on?
Believe it or not, you already know how to let go and allow things to flow.
You are wired to survive. You have a nervous system and instincts that have been designed to make sure you survive threats to your wellbeing.
When you are under stress, your Sympathetic Nervous System is activated: blood pressure rises, there is an increase in heart rate, breathing quickens, the large muscle groups contract, the micro muscles (for example in your digestive track) contract and your thinking gets very narrow and focused.
When you are in a peaceful state of Balance, you are living (emotionally) from the Parasympathetic Nervous System: blood pressure goes down, heart rate and breathing slow down, the large and small muscles group relax, the mind ‘opens’ and can think clearly. There is a profound sense of being centered, grounded, balanced, safe and clear in thought.
From an emotional and psychological standpoint, the ideal is to live from the peaceful Parasympathetic Nervous System only activating the Sympathetic Nervous System when responding to a stressful moment. Then, after the stress passes, you return to a state of balance /PSN. However, in the highly demanding, emotionally stressed out lives we live, most people are living from the stressed out SNS all the time. They are jammed in high gear, going full tilt day after day, year after year to such an extent that hanging on for dear life becomes a way of life.
Here’s the good news! Right now, at this very moment, you have within you the ability to shift at will from the stressed out SNS to the peaceful, centered and grounded PNS and that is via Conscious Breathing.
Conscious Breathing is slow, deep (into the belly), peaceful, GENTLE and relaxed breathing. There is nothing is forced about it. It should sound and feel like a wave in slow motion. Each time you exhale allow the stress to fall away from you just as if a sweater is slipping off your shoulders. With each exhalation, let go of trying to control your breathing, simply let the breath go and allow. And each time you sit down to do this breathing be aware that you are pressing the reset button, telling your mind, heart and body to return to it original state of being, one of Balance.
To receive the maximum benefits from this, the key is consistency so aim for doing Conscious Breathing three times a day. Start off slowly with 5 breaths each time and work your way up to what is comfortable to maintain.
Where the heart and mind may have difficulty letting go of a person, situation or memory, you can engage the wisdom of your body to do something it’s already doing (breathing!) to help other aspects of yourself to do so. Once your mind and heart get the message that your body can let go without life falling a part, it feels safer to take this step emotionally in letting go and allowing things to be where they need to be now.
Disclaimer: The information presented on the Soul Conscious Living blog is for educational purposes only and should not, in any way, be a substitute from professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Be sure to consult with your healthcare professional before making any changes to your lifestyle.