One of the catch phrases from Dory, in ‘Finding Nemo’ is ‘Just keep swimming’. After a sudden huge change, there is an initial phase of shock. So you can end up no longer sure which way is up, and which way is down, you just need to keep swimming.
This actually is easier said, than done. Shock dries up the thoughts in your mind, leaving you to stare aimlessly into space. Your body freezes in place, whilst emotions overwhelm you, to the point you stop breathing. No longer knowing if there is a right, or a wrong. However life doesn’t stop around you.
So…. how do you keep going? During my own experience of divorce when I found myself overwhelmed I focused on
- BREATHING: Each breath I took, each moment separated me further in time away from the painful moment. By focusing on long, slow, deep breaths I kept myself calm and logical. Rather than becoming lost in my internal dialogue.
- MEMORY OF PAIN: When deep breaths didn’t work and I became overwhelmed in a moment of strong emotion, I would remind myself that this was a memory of pain. That where I was at that point in time I was safe, I was warm, everything was ok. This would help reduce the power this emotion would have over me.
- OBSESSING: Being stuck in a cycle of mental rhetoric could leave me running through and through, why did this happen to me? Hadn’t I had enough in my life? An endless long list of negative thoughts circling me round a drain of guilt and responsibility. I found the easiest way to separate myself from this was the thought that none of this was moving me on in my life. So I asked myself the question ‘What do I want?’ This question would help to pause the negative rhetoric in my mind, and focus on only myself. Allowing me to dream about the future.
- ACCEPTANCE: If all of these didn’t work, then the only other trick I found that worked was to accept the feeling. I would sit in the emotion, describe its feeling to myself and wait for the emotion to slowly dissipate. Every time my mind would throw up a feeling about why I was feeling like that? I would ignore it, trying to stop the following the river of my thoughts. And come back to just the emotion, feel it, explore it, be with it.
In all of these methods, meditation can help to understand how to work with your mind. So that your mind is no longer making you a slave to its river of thoughts or emotions. It helps you to separate yourself from the river, so that you can observe it from a distance. So that when you’re stuck in shock, you can separate yourself from it, observe it, be free from it.