There are some events in life that render permanent change: the death of a loved one, the birth of a child, losing a job, a sudden divorce. It’s safe to add a few meaningful world events like the fall of the Berlin Wall, Arab Spring or a global viral pandemic to that list, as well. Those of us who have experienced profound injury, illness or loss in our lives can attest to just how thin the veneer of our control really is. Waking up to an awareness of that kind of impermanance can be as shocking to our system as a 3 AM alarm in the middle of REM sleep, even though ancient wisdom tells us that the sense of control we have in normal circumstances is an illusion.
Yeah, yeah, that’s nice.
Counter-intuitively, the first step is to feel the sorrow and anxiety and restlessness…and yes, sometimes even terror. Our bodies are always in the present moment, even when our minds are spinning frantically. I don’t know about you, but I’m used to running away, keeping busy, reading another article, starting another project, or even helping someone else. There is absolutely nothing wrong with a nice dose of Netflix and chocolate (my personal go-tos), but as those patterns of self-soothing are revealed, inject a tiny pause of non-judgmental noticing. That’s a start. Then, in that space, we can remind ourselves of that timeless phrase, “and it came to pass.” While we’re not sure what’s on the other side of any crisis, we have experience of looking back on personal turmoil (sometimes with surprise that we survived) and know that, yes, it did come to pass.