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Coping with Challenge and Change


Coping with challenge and change.

Learning to feel comfortable during change is an invaluable art, and something that does not come easily to the human conditioning. 

Anxiety, fear, anger and resentment can manifest when unwanted change or challenges present themselves.

Life is a forever moving canvas of experiences. External and internal stresses, along with physical and energetic changes are a part of the picture life paints.

Your nervous system is intent on trying to keep a constant balance and equilibrium in the body and the mind tries to help by analysing and debating constantly the inner and outer environment of your day to day existence. 

During the journey of life, daily changes in environment, health, wealth, and the relationships between those that interact with us regularly, cause the mind to work overtime to establish a state of safety and peace.

The body responds by kicking in the fight or flight response, the sympathetic nervous system, until the perceived threat has been abated. In reality, the modern day threat, such as constant work stress, environmental stress and circumstantial stress, leave the sympathetic nervous system on constant alert.

As we age, the body can go through changes that further leave us feeling all at sea and it is even more important at this stage, to keep ones head above water and to learn to ride the waves.
In order for the body to find the ultimate peace and health, it is important to learn how to become calm and composed, mentally, physically and emotionally, throughout the changes that life demands.

Below I have listed a few ways you can remain balanced in your daily life.

1. Overcoming fear and Anxiety.

It has become a common phrase in the yoga and mindfulness world, but the true art of focussing on your breath is a simple and the most effective way to bring an immediate sense of calm to your body and mind. 

Throughout my yoga journey I have discovered the stillness that resides within the constantly moving motion of my breath. A sense of surrender to the flow of my breath has taken me to the deepest stillness I have ever experienced. 

On one particular occasion and during a panic attack that I was having in the middle of the night, brought on by hormonal changes that occur occasionally in the peri-menopause stage of life, I found an ultimate state of stillness by slipping behind my breath. 

As my body continues to change, I have had to learn how to manage the stresses my body is going through on a day to day basis. Anxiety, fatigue and confusion are to name but a few!

Anxiety is a common problem for a lot of people and it is something that can come and go, or it can be there almost constantly.

By forming a regular connection to the breath, you can begin to keep anxiety at bay, and should it rear its head in defiance, you can at least calm the intensity and length of an attack; if not stop it in it’s tracks completely.

How do you find the stillness within the breath?

Sit or lie down somewhere comfortable, or stand with your feet planted firmly to the floor.

Allow your awareness to move into the areas of the body that are making contact with the floor, whether that be the back of your body, your sit bones, or your feet.

For a moment, rest all your energy on those pressure points until they feel large and full of life. If external distractions are taking your attention away from this, count your breaths as you send each in-breath downwards to the points I mentioned. Repeat, until your attention is resting on those pressure points. This can take a few rounds of breath but with practice, this becomes quicker and easier.

You will begin to feel your energy slow down, and your breath will soften a little. 

If the heart is racing, just allow it to unfold in your awareness, without the need to change it or slow it down. It is just something else that is in view and you can begin to move your awareness away from it, once you have acknowledged your heartbeat as just another experience your body is showing you.

When you feel a little more grounded, begin to check in with your lower abdomen and let the weight of your awareness rest there.

Your abdomen may resist by tensing and releasing intermittently or continuing to grip. Whatever is arising, just accept it as experience.

After a while, your abdomen and your breath will begin to release.

It is at this point that you can turn your attention to the flowing inwards and flowing outwards of your breath. You do not need to move the breath, just relax and allow the breath to move your body.

When you can hold your soft attention within that flow, a centre of stillness will open up to you.

Allow yourself to rest within this stillness.

2. Create a sense of stability for yourself by setting a routine.

It is not possible to control everything around you, but you can help you body to adjust to changes you can’t control, by setting a gentle routine each day. 

Allow yourself to rise at roughly the same time each day, starting your day, with a conscious connection to your thoughts, emotions and how energetic or not you are feeling. You can then begin to spend a moment or two, re-establishing a mindset you wish to carry forward, helping you to move away from the condition your nervous system may be instilling in your system and bringing in a new level of energy and awareness for your day. 

Set yourself up for bed time each night by bringing a routine in that lets your body know it is time to rest. A moment sitting quietly, allowing thoughts of the day to pass by, and maybe even jotting them down in a journal so that you can allow the mind to clear itself of worries or concerns. Anything that you may need to do for the next morning, just make a note so that you don’t need to be worrying about remembering to do things, thereby allowing your mind to switch off.

3. Remember how it felt to be a child.

One thing I do a lot, is to recall what my energy was, my mindset was and the level of freedom I felt as a child or teenager. All that hope and those new experiences. The sense of self I was gaining, with each new friend I made or achievement I accomplished. I remember never thinking too far ahead. I was just happy to be me at each moment in time. I do remember difficult occasions when my mother was very ill, but back then, I had room to deal with pressures from outside.

If you can remember how it feels to be young and at the start of your journey, you will find you can begin to connect again to that same energy, and you will find it assisting your path right now.

It is all too easy to get bogged down with the “I’m getting old and tired” way of thinking, but that is all it is, a way of thinking! Studies have shown that you can completely change your body’s physiology and energy levels, just through thoughts and feelings you project onto your own body and mind!

Dr Joe Dispenza has written about the amazing ability we all have to balance the health and wellbeing of the body in his book, You are the Placebo.

4. Keep your body active and as healthy as possible.

Ill health is a part of life for a lot of people, but each of us, regardless of the current state of health, has the ability to assist the body towards a better state of health, by becoming as active as possible and by becoming conscious of the food we take in.

I like to walk outside daily, to bring me back to the times I used to play and run around outside. I allow those feelings and memories to flood through me as a walk. It literally lifts me up, step by step.

I also practice yoga every day. I keep in mind how agile my body was when I was younger and I know, through my regular practice, that I can help to keep it that way, through a dedicated practice of as little as 20 minutes a day!

I find walking daily, in all weathers helps me to acclimatise to change. Your body faces a torrent of differing conditions and you have to adjust everything about yourself, from the clothes you wear to the speed of your walk to accommodate the changes.

5. Be careful of the company you keep.

The people around us can seriously impact on our deeper sense of health, wellbeing and self-esteem. 

Consciously begin to notice your internal dialogue when surrounded by those who either lift your spirits, or who dampen them. 

I am not saying you should cut people out of your life, but by becoming aware of how different people affect your inner state, and your energy levels, it will open your eyes to choosing how much time you should spend, and for how long, in their company.

With job stress and when working with people who rock your boat, It is important to recognise that you may need to make changes to your working situation, if it is impacting on you negatively. Even if an immediate change is not possible, small and steady steps towards a change can keep your energy high and your eye on a more positive future. All of which will help you to cope when things are difficult in any given moment.

6. Laugh!

Find something that makes you laugh out loud and do it often…We all know how laughing makes everything feel better!

Surrendering to the process

Differing times of the year encourage a change within the inner and external processes, both within the body and with life in general. It is important to recognise and to align oneself with these changes. Some of us love the summer and some of us love the winter. We are all different.

As autumn approaches, the body and mind starts to align itself with the energy of release. Natures process is about shutting down, letting go and conserving energy as the winters rest period heads into view.

In order to help you to  move into the approaching months with ease, I will be holding an evening of balance and harmony to celebrate the Autumn Equinox on Monday 23rd September, in Kingsthorpe. Full details can be found here.

It will be lovely to share more time together as the seasons change! If you would like to join us for yoga on a regular basis, my full weekly timetable is listed here.

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