We’re all feeling it. The pure overwhelm. From the holiday rush to the end-of-year workload, to staying healthy and spending time with our families, the list is endless of where we can be feeling overwhelmed in our lives. Add to that the continually changing world post-COVID.
This feeling seems to be thick in the air, of life being almost too much to handle.
And yet, we keep handling. Just when we think we can’t take another thing, and then another thing happens. We keep pushing forward. Perhaps we’re getting the drift now — that life is a bit of an endurance exercise. And I say this as a privileged white woman, where the majority of humans on the planet face the types of challenges I could not fathom.
Recently I realized the obvious: things are not going to lighten up tomorrow. And since this is the case — endurance is only the way through. It’s time to get really good at enduring, and I figure there’s someone out there interested in honing that skill with me.
In this era of endurance, we need to be strong — not just physically, but mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. I’ve collected my thoughts on how we can curb the perspectives and actions that hamper our strength, with the hopes that it helps the lot of us, together, transcend the chaos.
7 Tips to Endure the Chaos
1 — Remember: your body is your temple.
Ancient wisdom with the timeless application. For as stressful as current events are, we need a body that can sustain. It’s barely a suggestion at this point, but more a function of survival. This means getting the nutrients, hydration, exercise, and sleep that actually help us show up as our best selves. We all know what it feels like to have a gnarly head cold and have to work anyway — everything is a struggle. So it goes with any imbalance we may have in the body. In this pandemic era, the health of our vehicles has never been more important.
We want to be sturdy oak trees, who stay standing regardless of the storm that blows through. With deep roots and thickened bark, it doesn’t matter if a few branches snap off. Learn your lessons from Mother Nature, and all will be well. What do you need to grow your roots? To thicken your skin? Be like the tree.
2 — Stop assuming that things will go back to normal.
They won’t because normal never existed. And we wouldn’t want it to, anyway. Normal is harmful if you look at what was under the surface of “normal life” just six months ago. Normal is complacency. Normal is the stunting of growth and evolution which can only end in a massive course correction far more uncomfortable than admitting “normal” was never a thing.
It’s kind of like we’ve all been thrown overboard by life in the last year, agreed? We’re swimming toward the very distant shore of “normal,” absolutely exhausting ourselves, instead of inflating the life jacket of now, literally wrapped around our body. Normal won’t save us. Neither will a “new normal,” by the way.
We don’t have normal, but we have the present moment. As we surrender our expectations in the present moment, we are gifted with adaptability and endurance.
3 — Study resilience.
Again, life is now an endurance exercise. We are in an era where the ugly is being illuminated — and it could be the case that we’ve only just begun.
Resilience is the skill we have been asked to learn. The kind of current events going on right now — the cruelty, control, oppression — may never lose their shock value and we don’t want it to. We don’t want to normalize atrocity. But if we don’t figure out how to be resilient in the face of inhumanity, our wellbeing and sanity are at constant high risk. We have to learn how to take the punches, by realizing ultimately we are un-punchable 🙂
There are some really fascinating resources and studies about resilience out there. I know it can feel hard to believe that we could ever arrive at invincibility in times like these, but that’s just the little voice talking. The reality is that we can weather this, and all things, one step at a time. But we aren’t of service to anyone if we are perpetually defeated.
4 — Welcome discomfort as a signpost.
It’s time for us to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. The problem is: we like the sounds of that intellectually, but absolutely turtle when it comes around for real.
The point of being uncomfortable is that you probably didn’t see it coming. Being willing to be uncomfortable means you should want to crawl out of your skin from time to time. We want to get to the place of unimaginable discomfort — because that’s the indisputable indication that we’re growing. Comfortable means we’re inching closer to the illusion of normalcy, which only calls in greater destruction.
5 — Your body is talking to you. Listen.
What we’ve never quite learned to acknowledge is that our body holds years and years of wisdom — and memory. We treat our bodies like an insentient machine versus something intelligent, even though our body houses our primo intelligence source. The mental and emotional pot has been stirred these days, and this means that our bodies are talking. The question is, are we listening?
If we listen, we notice our body is full of sensations. Particularly when we’re feeling discomfort. We tend to avoid unpleasant sensations and fetishize pleasant ones. But the unpleasant ones hold the keys to healing. When an emotion comes up, we must tune into the energetic pattern of the emotion in our body. In order for that emotion to move through, we need to feel the coinciding sensations with awareness.
As simple as it sounds, most of us have been conditioned not to go there. But perhaps it’s time to venture. We might even say, we’re overdue. When tough thoughts linked to emotions show up, experiment with diving into the sensations with your attention. Eventually, they do pass; though, sensations attached to traumas tend to be deeply rooted. I definitely advise reaching out for help to work through emotions associated with past trauma.
6 — Choose to be here now.
When the headlines are flying at us like rogue arrows, we have a choice: to act like we’re under attack, or show up as a warrior.
When the shit gets a little too real, I like to remind myself of a little spiritual philosophy: I chose to be here. I chose this shitstorm of a life, exactly as it is. And you know what? It helps me feel better. Empowered, even.
What if we, as little soul-beings (this is as New Age-y as I will get today, promise), chose to be in this life, these circumstances, on purpose? What if we chose this life to show up and fight for humanity and the planet Earth? What if we really are here as warriors, intended to make a difference?
Whether this is true or not, who can be sure? What I’m sure of, is that it gives my life insta-meaning — not of the ephemeral social media variety. And this meaning is precisely what keeps things moving forward, even when we’re cashed. The possibility and likelihood that this chaos is about something so much bigger than our individual agenda, gives us a bit of solid ground to stand on.
7 — Be selective about your input.
You may not be able to control the world around you, but you can control what you let through the filter of your attention.
We’ve grown pretty reckless about our attention these days – I blame social media but there are plenty of offenders. Every single thing that goes through the filter of our attention matters. It’s no different than food. Just like every bite has some sort of caloric value (minus celery), every bit of media has an influence on our minds.
The mind is like a piece of dough, very susceptible to molding. And while one Instagram post or headline may seem meaningless, each one is making a little imprint on our minds. Add up the fact that we are exposed to 6,000 to 10,000 marketing messages per day, and imagine what’s happening to the shape of your mind.
Be selective about what you let in, as your mind (just like your body) will crave what you feed it most. Another suggestion is to find a technique or practice that helps keep your mind fresh and un-moldable. Yoga, meditation, and mindful practices of any variety do exactly that.
Anything meditative teaches us about what we truly are — beyond our identity and circumstance. The more deeply we understand that truth, the less susceptible we become. Quite handy in a world that wants to tell you who you are at every turn.
Endurance & Empowerment
At the end of the day, all of these tips are about empowerment. They’re about believing in yourself, flaws and all, as someone who can take the hardship and not only overcome it but use it as the friction force that helps us evolve.
Everything starts in the mind. As within, so without. Surviving the chaos (I am learning as much as you), starts with the belief that we can. Then comes the willingness to try. And then maybe practice a few of these tips, as they resonate.
Know that our Ohana community, here in Denver and online, is here to support your evolution in every way possible. We want to be here to support you in movement, but also as a helping hand or a shoulder for crying or an ear to simply listen. Use us — we aren’t going anywhere.
Devon Barrow is a yoga teacher for Ohana Yoga + Barre, our amazing social media manager, and a talented teacher for the YTT program. Yoga has been a part of Devon’s life since she was nine years old and continues to be her agent of healing and health. You’ll find both creativity of the physical body and the power of mindfulness in her classes.