The Rhythm of Life and Learning to Ride the Waves
Whenever I help clients learn guided imagery for stress reduction and relaxation, I usually call upon my own safe and sacred place—the beach—to help explain the concept and learn to conjure an image at will that can connect us with all of our senses. I love the beach so much because of the sensations that accompany being in that place. The feeling of being very small next to the vast ocean, the blue of the sky melting into the water, and the rhythmic push and pull of the waves. Rhythm is comforting and structured, in that where there is an ebb, there will also be a flow. We can count on it. If you have ever had the experience of being next to the ocean, I’m guessing you didn’t even question whether the tide would come back after it’s retreat.
For many things in nature—day/night, ebb/flow, weather patterns and seasons, we don’t question the temporariness of these phenomenon. We don’t wonder if day will follow night, we just trust that it will, yet it is so hard for us to trust the rhythm of our own lives.
Anxiety is the number one issue I treat in my practice, regardless of age, gender, or station in life. It seems to be one of the most uncomfortable sensations we humans can have, to not know what is next, but somehow we have to keep pushing ahead into the next unknown day. How can we trust that just because we may be struggling or surmounting a challenge at the moment, that does not mean it will be this way forever?!
“The one thing we can count on in life is change. Let’s learn to use this to our advantage while we’re waiting for the tide to return.”
In life, there will undoubtedly be times when some area is not what you would have it to be. As Buddhism psychology teaches, there are 10,000 joys and 10,000 sorrows in life. I don’t think anyone can rationally argue with that! But, when you are experiencing a sorrow, how often do you remind yourself that there is surely a joy around the corner? The one thing we can count on in life is change. Let’s learn to use this to our advantage while we’re waiting for the tide to return. How much better would we feel if we could learn to ride this wave of discomfort, always remembering that this is part of the journey we’re on!
Becoming a parent has really forced me to grow up in the way I see hardships and discomfort. If you are a parent, you probably understand what I mean without explanation. Early on in parenthood, I did not have the best “deal with it, it’s temporary” chops. Sure, I had overcome challenges, but never anything that was this challenging, such a big responsibility, with so much uncertainty, and no end in sight. So many times, I have found myself thinking, I can’t take much more of fill-in-the-blank (sleepless nights, potty training, defiance, emotional outbursts, etc.) just to be pulled from the brink at the last second, renewing my faith in my ability to parent, and recharging my ability to be kind, patient, and understanding with my child.
After a couple of years of this, I learned to ride the wave. I learned to reframe my experience, no longer thinking “I don’t know if I can make it through” and instead thinking “this too shall pass” while also not wanting the situation to be anything other than it is. This allows me to enjoy my moments more! I don’t have to worry so much about what happens next because I will respond to it when I get there. Being comfortable in life (with your decisions, abilities, self) is as much about mindset as anything else. We strengthen our “deal with it, it’s temporary” chops by being “OK” with every part of the experience, and riding that wave.
Don’t get me wrong, this takes practice, and I have to check myself DAILY! The same principle that I use to help me stay grounded and realistic in parenting also helps in a variety of situations in our lives. It is a grand illusion to think there is a finish line. There isn’t, in fact, we’re not even in a race, yet that is how so many of us approach the business of living. We jump from one hurdle to the next, feeling the anxiety to move ahead to greener pastures only to find out that our pasture was pretty green to begin with.
Thinking of life like the rhythm of the ocean can help us to ride the waves. When you are up on the peak, flying high, enjoy that moment fully whether you are a parent, student, in a relationship or trying to get to know your true and authentic self. Feel the breeze against your skin and fully immerse in this moment of joy. Don’t rob that moment of happiness by thinking about the next sorrow! Don’t bring yourself unnecessary failure, by believing you won’t succeed.
Unfortunately, we cannot inoculate ourselves against heartache. In the same token, when you are in the middle of hardships do not lose all rational thought. Your emotions may tell you that things will never get better or be different, but deep down, you know that isn’t true. When the wave comes crashing down, ride it. Learn to recognize all of the hurt and confused feelings you may have and train yourself to refrain from complaint. We knew this would happen, just as we know there will be a night at the end of the day. It’s ok.
How do you cope with the ups and downs of life or parenting? Do you use some similar self talk? If you aren’t sure, and would like to learn how to be more fulfilled by letting go, email me today!