I started blogging about being calm, still and present.
I stopped because I wasn’t calm, still and present.
I wasn’t able to write because I knew I would be writing false words and a false experience that was connected to another time, a time in my past, not what was happening to me at that moment, and being authentic to what it means to be present.
So I am attempting it now, without rehearsing what I need to say but rather recounting some torturous days I have put myself through of late, in the hope you can recognise when you too disconnect from yourself – and potentially a way to pull yourself back.
It surprised me how quickly my mind easily spiralled into panic mode, I haven’t felt that way for many months, even years – so it took me by surprise. I made a decision a couple of weeks ago that unsettled me, was against my current values and only aligned with who I claim I was in my past. A part of me from the past that I felt I’d successfully buried and forgotten – dusted off my hands and walked away from, kind of like a scary monster under the bed that reared its head again. Only I now realize that this part I run from, it really is part of me and always will be.
And looking back two weeks ago, I don’t regret the choice I made, I’d just preferred to not have made it. But I did. So it has also been a journey of acceptance. Accepting the choice, and accepting myself in all my current guises, and accepting to sit in the gunk that comes with it.
I think at the heart of being present is acceptance.
Accepting who you are, the good, the bad, and the incredibly ugly.
All those labeled ‘awful’ feelings we can experience around guilt, jealousy and sadness, all the way through to the ‘good’ ones like happiness, love and affection – they are all still ‘me’ (or you) – and they’re all normal, human experiences, that each of us can go through, if we allow ourselves to be present and accept them.
What struck my own interest (from my observations of myself) was the momentum of the downfall I went into, the spiral down had me questioning my ability to be present. I went nuts. I went into a complete state of questioning ‘why?’
Asking ‘what?’ rather than ‘why?’
It wasn’t until I realised this repetitive questioning of myself yesterday that I understood how much I’d allowed it to completely cloud me. I physically couldn’t see straight for a couple of days over Easter, my eyes couldn’t register or blink properly, or hold the gaze of another person. I couldn’t seem to connect with my body, it was like I was walking around outside of myself and not in any way connected to me. It is a hard experience to explain, but I knew that I was off in some nonsensical place that was away from here, and all the while questioning myself in a bid to understand or justify my actions, and simply not accepting them and the emotions I was experiencing, trying to suffocate them instead.
Once I was able to stop the cross examination I was putting myself through, I was able to register instead ‘what’ I was feeling. Being able to name ‘sadness’ rather than question why it was here quickly snapped me back into my body, back into myself and the present moment. Far, far away from what my (ir)rational mind was able to comprehend and make sense of.
Get present with your breath
I used breath, I used connecting in with my body by doing a scan, I used meditation.
All the tools I use regularly and had abandoned in the hope of understanding ‘why’. Quite shocking really, when as a coach my job is often to ask the question ‘what?’ That itself surprised me. But what a gift.
Experiment a little…
See if it can work for you, next time you need to connect in. Can you ask ‘what’ rather than ‘why’?
Just by sitting still, slowing down your breath and listening. Stop the question why, and listen.
Listen to ‘what’ you are feeling and experiencing. Name it and sit with it. Be present, be kind to it, and connect. Let go of your mind’s desire to make sense of it, and just accept what information it is drawing your attention to.
You may find some of the difficult emotions shift a lot quicker, or you can enjoy a sense of calm and happiness more by being totally connected to them, that is the gift I received yesterday, by ‘be’ing. Being centred, listening and accepting. That is being present.