To a degree, our lives seem to have slipped away from the incredible rainbow glimpsed in our dreams.
The one we drew as toddlers.
The one that, back then, made us grin.
The one that made us run to the nearest adult and wave it at them.
Reality check: as teenagers and, then, as young adults – and up to now as older adults – many of us have lapsed in keeping our emotions updated and stable.
Bottom line: regardless of our age, habits, our likes and dislikes were often not formed by a rational thought process. Instead, they were often developed in response to our most immediate needs pricked by memories of past moments.
Resulting fears and insecurities dictated these needs.
And it’s true.
Of course, we have let them define us.
We have let them become our ego-persona.
So, if cementing sustainable new habits of mind is not as easy as making sparkling water with a Sodastream machine, an appropriate slogan to adopt might be Relax. Breathe. Reflect. Repeat.
And we need to repeat each action a few times daily, some 200 days in a row – enough repetitions for our brain to identify these new habits as “safe”.
Bottom line: a show of committed resilience will slowly but definitely, inch our little raft closer to our rainbow.
Several months have gone by since I began engaging with this little mind-meander.
We are now in the second year of the era of the Covid-19 pandemic.
We also are in the twentieth century of ongoing social inequalities.
This reality is compounded by learned and systemic racism and anti-Semitism.
By barely veiled misogyny.
By abuses of power.
Here, there, and almost everywhere, it is also compounded by a focus on divisiveness.
It is compounded by politics that, in an era of intentional misinformation, have become incrementally more compromised over the past decade.
And we are in the era of a global economy depleted.
By the millions, more than ever, for more reasons than ever, we feel swamped, depleted.
Some of us suffer from the inability to be emotionally or physically present for a partner, a parent, a child, a grandchild or a dear friend in need.
Particularly these days of work restrictions, for a few more millions of workers, the incessant flurry of incoming bills has become as dreaded as locusts on a farmer’s crops.
How not to mention that those affected suffer the indignity of being unable to provide either for their family or for those who are in their [karmic] clan?
Direr again for millions, the rate of homelessness and food shortages are continually spiking.
But, for all of us, regardless of age and gender, massive is the fear of not being able to engineer – or sustain – the lifestyle we envisaged when dreaming of a better future was still an option.
What remained of our hearts prior to 2020 has become further fragmented.
We are now dis-en-heart-ened.
Sadly, as the need for more personal and community engagement accelerates, globally, volunteerism is down.
It’s all mind-blowing and gut-wrenching.
Reality check #1: except for the mind-bending, spiralling volume of people currently affected by the hardship just described, millions of people in each country have endured their own version of it since … forever.
Nothing genuinely new ever happens on planet Earth.
It’s only ‘new’ or relevant when it affects us personally.
Reality check #2: no matter what comes down, the karmic choreography of life never impacts all of us equally.
We are far too individual in our emotional makeup as ego-personas.
So, comparatively, most of us, regardless of where we live, have it ‘easier’ than many.
Some of us have it ‘very easy’.
Of course, OMG! Whatever our degree of comfort and security, actively, emotionally thankful we are!
Or should be.
Not because we are aware that things could become worse in any of the moments underfoot, but because … in the moment underfoot, we do have what we have.
We have plenty to feel appreciative and thankful.
In his poem, Joy and Sorrow, Khalil Gibran wrote, ‘Your joy is your sorrow unmasked. And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears. And how else can it be? The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.’
Serious questions: how do we seize this moment, any moment of emotional unease or dysfunctionality, to push on for a different future reality?
One in which we are healthier, more resilient, fairer and kinder – towards our selves?
Towards others, too.
Near and far.
That landing that goal, reaching that destination is our desire.
It is the rainbow towards which we desire rowing.
Here’s the thing.
Nothing ever happens in isolation.
Not in our brain.
Not in our mind.
Not in our heart.
Not in our gut.
All is interconnected in our human body.
All that is activated in our heart is activated in our thoughts, is activated in our brain. It becomes our mindset.
All is interconnected on planet Earth and throughout the universe.
Not one ‘thing’ exists in isolation.
Helpful reminder: time to remember the massively important apposition of good stress vs bad stress.
Our mind knows the difference.
Seldom linked to concrete occurrences, bad stress comes from the incessant whirring of unsettling, worrisome thoughts and imagined worst-case scenarios.
Bad stress depletes us.
It makes us sick.
Good stress comes from embracing the challenge of situations and endeavours that are meaningful to us. They feel positive and purposeful to us. We are determined to ‘nail them’.
Good stress is invigorating.
Reality check #3: not a single thing is systematically inherently good or bad for us, humans.
There is good and bad inflammation.
Good inflammation is spontaneous and purposeful.
Whether it’s on a finger, in our stomach or our brain, good inflammation keeps infection at bay. It helps heal our wounds.
Bad, chronic inflammation is the result of the laisser-aller lazy behaviours perpetrated over a long period.
Chronic inflammation makes us sick.
Sometimes very sick.
It even robs us of our sleep.
Sometimes, it even threatens our neurons instead of protecting them.
Bad stress leads to mind and body suffering.
Heads up: doing our best to be the best we can be as often as we can generate good stress.
Here’s what’s important to keep in mind: through timely intervention, no matter how much damage we have inflicted to our brain, to our gut, our heart and to our psyche, as every other living organism on planet Earth, we have an almost limitless potential to heal.
Or at least to slow the negative impact of what, dear Reader, Warrior for the Greater Good, is soon to become our’ past life’.
Reality check: knowing that suffering, unlike physical pain, is optional, there has never been a better time to shout to ourselves, ‘Stop the suffering!’
What yields better dividends. That said, it is essential to allow emotions and pain to rise.
We resist the conditioned urge to shut them out and pretend we genuinely believe it will ‘all’ go away …soon.
So, here and now, how about we momentarily attempt an escape from our ego-persona and our ego-mind?
How about we inspect the insidious resistance that hums quietly inside our heads?
How about we try our best to do something that’s not just about us?
Here’s how to start: in a cherry-picking manner, we should consciously choose our response to each of our emotions.
So we stop what we’re thinking.
We stop what we’re doing.
We interrupt what we’re feeling.
We breathe slowly. We breathe deeply.
We breathe consciously.
Ta-dum! Our inner GPS is awake.
We have recalibrated our selves.
We can now re-align our thoughts (and therefore the next round of actions and responses) with our heartfelt intentions.
We do that until the day our emotional response system is successfully updated.
Until the day it reflects the true, objective reality of What-Is and the true objective reality of who/what we are.
Agreed – that’s not for the faint-hearted but, even the faint-hearted have the potential to ‘en-heart-en’ themselves, should they so wish.
Serious question: how relevant is it to say, ‘We are what we do’?
Serious answer: it’s highly relevant.
Focusing on the very short-term goal with an eye on our rainbow-desire helps dissipate the negative thoughts that have brought us to ‘X marks the spot’, this current point of inner disconnect.
We understand that ‘connection,’ i.e. care, friendship, and love do not exist independently.
They are energy.
Their energy is like a brook.
It is intended by nature to be free-flowing.
And it is – until it is blocked by detritus and garbage.
At that point, it has to be helped along before it can flow again on its own through re-opened channels.
When we energise conscious actions coherent with our best intentions, we ‘give them life’.
We open our energy channels.
Our little brook is once again free-flowing – or, at least, able to flow more freely.
Within the context of this little mind-meander in any given moment, energy has only one of three powers.
Either it is creative.
Or it maintains What-Is as is.
Or it puts an end to What-Is – to create a different one.
Reality check: the sort of ‘new’ What-Is, our energy creates will depend on the strength and clarity of our power.
Water in a brook, even a lovely, charming one, is not always potable.
Reality check: when the intention is for betterment, it demands a generosity of spirit.
Generosity of spirit requires the good stress-energy of personal/emotional sacrifices.
That energy is creative.
The generosity of spirit demands Faith in Hope.
Faith that there is a custom-made rainbow out there.
That it will show itself in the fulness of time.
That energy, too, is creative.
Sacrifices require us to exert intentional pressure on our default emotional pattern.
It’s not easy to create what isn’t there.
It’s not easy to maintain balance when the attempt at balance is one-sided.
It’s not easy to end What-Is to create a better situation from its ashes.
The ‘fixing’ of anything dysfunctional might take place in our selves.
It demands an end to the dysfunctional aspects of what currently is underfoot.
Reality check #4: an end might be needed anywhere in ‘our’ world – inner and outer, near and far.
Fixing what needs fixing by ending, maintaining or creating is always an inside job.
It requires a good flow of qi, of pranic energy – of our life force.
Bottom line: when we govern with inner-outer compassion, we open up the energy channels in our body.
How we seize this moment, any moment of emotional unease or dysfunctionality, to push for a different future reality, one in which we are healthier, more resilient, more caring and fairer is our desire.
It IS the rainbow towards which our desire prompts us to row.
Final serious question: why on Earth would we bother with any of this?
It requires so much focus and self-control!
Answer #1: Life happens.
Though the top layer of our bodysuits varies greatly, we are energy beings compressed in 3-D bodies of flesh and fluids.
Our sole reason for our soul’s incarnations in these bodies of ours is for us to manage ‘life’ with brio.
By its very nature, our existence has always been and will always remain unpredictable.
That will never change.
We know better than to take anything for granted.
Anything at all.
We do, don’t we?
Answer #2: because, the co-creation of our [karmic] wellbeing is tied to the updated ripples that come out of any ‘complication’ which we have consciously or unconsciously created, repaired, enflamed, dismissed or stamped out.
How else can we liberate ourselves from whirring worries, fears and insecurities to the point we can share joy, kindness, and feel truly thankful for all that we do have in our life?
Whatever the issue constricting our gut or our heart might be, how about we attempt to reason it out with calm, patience and equanimity?
How about we do that to the best of our ability now, right in this moment?
How about we engage with our self as we would with a child we genuinely want to comfort.
What if we told our inner child that we do understand their pain?
That we know its origins.
That it’s OK to feel what they feel.
But, then, as a good parent would, we remind our young self that, though certain events have come to pass, they indeed have passed.
In fact, they are of the past.
They belong to the past.
There is no benefit in digging around their roots to ‘understand’ why what came to pass … came to pass.
We’ve survived it.
We’re literally ‘over’ it.
Reality check #4: if our life were an opera, no matter how grandiose, comedic or tragic, there could be no curtain call.
No one could be invited for a bow.
It’s all gone.
‘It’s all gone, Darling,’ we tell our young self. ‘Here, now, you are safe. You are strong. You have survived it all. It has made you the strong person that you are.’ Then, of course, we would help our little one count on ten fingers each of the blessings s/he knows they should be thankful for.
We remind them that even with only one less of these blessings, they would be unhappier than they are now.
And so, we smile a grateful smile.
And we breathe in/out slowly, gently, deeply.
Every moment deserves our attention so, here and now, in this moment, we breathe consciously.
Now is the right moment to give our mind some air – some fresh air and ease a bit of what needs to be relaxed.
Now is the time to lean in proactively, purposefully and steadily.
So, when it comes to training our mind to train our breath several times a day while at work, at home, out shopping, or tuning into our favourite series, we are always at liberty to breathe quietly, discreetly, but consciously for a few minutes.
Even while waiting at a red light or stuck in slow-moving traffic.
When in the middle of a tense moment, remembering the power of conscious breathing will prompt us to make a quick exit to the garden, to the balcony, bathroom or toilet block.
That break will not only create a pause in the frazzle, but it will also provide us with the much-needed opportunity to, once again, get out of our head and back into our body.
Then, we will be in a much better place to respond coherently to what a few minutes ago threatened to capsize even our best intentions.
The more we do this, the more our brain is happier with lesser levels of stress hormones.
Heads up: no one has ever lost weight by simply removing two cookies from their daily diets.
No weight loss, if it has occurred even after a rigorous diet, will be sustained should we fall back into our old habits.
Similarly, regardless of our age and degree of maturity, strength will not return to our muscles by merely doing 5 push-ups daily.
Change requires actions to flow-on from intentions and promises made.
Like clouds, emotions come and go.
Great intentions are manageable in small bites.
Little steps are taken moment by moment in their direction.
Along with a daily active meditation practice, conscious breathing and coherent, de-stressing practices will, over time, begin to shift some of the stagnation of stress and anxiety that has built up in our throat [chakra], heart/chest, and in our solar plexus.
Conscious breathing acts as a storm-resistant anchor.
It gives us essential holding power.
In each moment, casting aside the multitude of potential variables, we do our best.
We accept to give possible possibilities a chance.
Now, we breathe consciously.
We know we’re doing our best – for now.
Tomorrow is another day.
Tomorrow, we hope to be able to do even better than today but, today, we did our best.
We don’t look back – not even to earlier today.
It’s already in the past, too.
Today, we hope.
We have Faith in the process. In the process, we are co-creating with the universe – under Soul’s wing, as Yudit CS, my mentor, would often remind me.
We have Faith in that connection.
We trust it.
Evidence-based conclusions confirm that slow and conscious breathing is the most accessible and excellent body-based tool to relax our mind.
It does so by stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system which, then promotes a state of calmness.
Put simply, slow breathing is the key to calming ourselves down.
The thing is, as for everything worth thinking and worth doing, only a sustained practice will begin to generate the hoped-for change in our system.
1 minute here + 2 minutes there + a few more minutes here and there during the day – every day – is what we’re talking about.
Like so many bites of healthy dark chocolate, it all adds up.
So, dear Reader, how about here and now, we take 3 minutes off from reading this, to breathe in through the nose and exhale slowly, silently through the mouth?
Body relaxed at the keyboard. Eyes closed.
Let’s imagine a stream of energising, fresh air coming in as we inhale slowly.
We hold that in-breath at the top of our head for a couple of seconds before releasing it slowly through the mouth.
We imagine that each out-breath carries away a stream of stress, negativity, anxiety or pain or fear.
As the body follows the mind, we pick one clear, uncluttered affirmation before we begin.
I am calm.
Or, I feel love.
Or, I am loved.
Or, I feel worthy.
Or, I am thankful
Or, I am loving,
Or, I am trusting
I am safe.
So, now that we are ready to begin, we quickly set a timer for 3 minutes and – we begin breathing consciously.
In through the nose.
Hold the breath at the top of the head.
We see it illuminating our brain.
Slow out breath through the mouth.
And now, dear Warrior, having unmoored our little raft, we row-row-row.
Eyes open wide shielded against the vibrant moonlight, we look ahead – way-way ahead.
We look towards the horizon.
We imagine it.
We see it.
We energise our landscape.
We energise our mindscape.
Steadily, we stand up on our raft.
Dawn is peaking at the night sky.
Already the horizon has begun blending with our rainbow.
It’s so clear, we can draw it.
And because it is so clear to us, we are grateful in anticipation of what we sense will come to pass.
Now that our rainbow-year is energised and now that we sense that our energy will sustain it, we trust that the cycle ahead will be like no other in its yield of sustainable contentment.
We understand the power of Hope.
And, as Yudit would often say in Hebrew, ‘Emunah Tamid!’
Action from the heart … through Faith.
So, yes, dear Warrior for the Greater Good, ‘Without further ado,’ as Shakespeare would say, it’s time to unleash our intrinsic magic and begin our separate and collective journeys of experiential self-betterment.
To our holistic health, dear Reader! To our rainbows!
©2021 Carole Claude Saint-Clair