We are living in a time that is different from any other time in history on many levels. For many, it seems like we are living in a state of perpetual chaos. COVID-19 has put a spotlight on uncertainty, created the need to isolate and lose connections with support systems and has raised feelings of fear and anxiety. Is it possible to embrace the chaos and find a place of peace within ourselves?
We are in a time of transition. By definition, a transition is a period of changing from one state or condition to another. We can look at this time as a transition between the time before COVID-19 and where we are now. We can choose to focus on all the negatives—and there are certainly a lot of those—or we can instead choose to focus on the good that still exists.
Notice the use of the word “choose.” We currently live in a time when it feels like we have little or no control over so many things we used to take for granted. This loss of control can make us feel our life is spiraling into a state of chaos which can lead to feelings of anxiety, sadness and isolation. But we need to remember that there are still things we can choose and decisions we can make about how we will deal with the transitions, changes and lack of control. We can choose to embrace the chaos and find a way forward within the chaos.
Perhaps start by looking at this time of transition as a bridge that is there to help guide us from one place to another. We all have the power to harness our thoughts and redirect the trajectory of the transition making sure we “cross the bridge” that will bring us to a place of peace and calm within ourselves. One of my favorite quotes is, “We can’t control the waves that come, but we can control how we ride them.” We can all make choices about how we deal with all the chaos around us.
So much in life is a matter of perspective. Nearly 10 years ago, I lost my precious 16 year-old-son T.J. to suicide. I thought my life ended on the day of his death. Life no longer made sense. I was in a state of chaos. As time passed, I began to realize that much of this journey we call life is a matter of perspective. If we can choose to shift our perspective, we can embrace the chaos, take a breath and learn to live in the moment which is all any of us really have.
I learned that instead of focusing on my son’s death and all that was lost and had changed, I could choose to focus on the gift my son was to me and my family and all who knew him. I could choose gratitude for the time we had together instead of allowing my mind to spiral in all that would never be the same.
I believe this is a tool we can use during this time of uncertainty—the tool of shifting perspective. Instead of focusing on the fear, let us refocus ourselves to zone in on what is good in our lives even if it is something seemingly small and insignificant. Practicing gratitude is proven to retrain the brain, can alter mindsets and move you forward on a path of peace and harmony. It is a choice. It takes work and it is something within everyone’s power.
As adults and gatekeepers in our communities, we need to model for our children love, kindness and gratitude. This is what will help us and them transition positively. Life is not easy. Life is not fair. Life often throws curveballs in our path, but we can make the choice to work toward a place of peace within ourselves and that energy will flow out to all those around us.
We can also choose to focus on connections—finding connections, making connections and identifying gaps in connections. Again, we can choose to find ways to reconnect and make new connections. We can be creative in how we connect and who we connect with. In helping others there is great healing. We all need to be part of healing our world through making connections one day at a time.
I was blessed to find the practice of yoga after losing my son T.J. in 2010. Prior to losing my son, if someone had suggested breathwork and mindfulness to help myself I would probably have dismissed it, but I knew I needed to try something, anything to help move me from a place of deep pain and devastation so I began the practice of yoga with a focus on breath and what I found was we all have this amazing tool that can truly do miraculous things within our body and mind if we just put in the time and effort.
I invite you to take just a minute right now to breathe in LOVE and exhale PEACE. Close your eyes, put both feet on the floor and bring your attention to your breath. Notice it entering the body and exiting the body. Breathing in LOVE exhaling PEACE. Now try to bring some control to your breath by inhaling through your nose to a count of 4, pausing briefly at the top of the inhale and then exhaling slowly through the nose to a count of 6. Pause briefly at the base of the exhale and then repeat.
Focus on the breath entering and exiting the body and as your mind starts to wander bring it back to the breath. Give your mind a break. Maybe put a hand on your heart and a hand on your stomach so you can feel the breath entering and exiting. Science shows that harnessing the breath in this way will calm your nervous system and help you embrace the chaos. It is a tool you can use whenever and wherever you are. It takes practice and in time you will see results.
Practicing yoga, breathwork and gratitude are strategies and tools. Explore these or find something that resonates with you to help you embrace the chaos. Stay safe, stay well and know that if we move forward from a place of LOVE, we will find our way forward to a better world for all.
Author: Wendy Sefcik
Thank you Wendy for this beautiful reminder to pause and breathe. This is a choice we can focus on.