First you get a whisper, then a tap on the shoulder, then a blow to the head.
~ Buddhist saying
This Buddhist saying is one of my all time favourites for I know firsthand and wholeheartedly for it to be true.
In 2012 on Dec 13th I snapped & broke a major bone in my foot leaving me unable to walk properly for months. It was a big message from the universe to “slow down”, which I had been persistently ignoring, hence the ‘blow’. On Dec 13th 2013, exactly a year later, I got a visit from this little snail with the same message.
He crossed my path and I almost stepped on him and I had to wait until he passed so I could continue on my way. I loved this little guy sending me this powerful message and was happy to listen to the ‘whispers’ this time because my broken foot was a very powerful ‘cosmic2x4’, a swift kick up the arse and one of the greatest teachers I have ever had.
A cosmic 2×4 is a phrase used to describe a personal crisis – a situation that comes up in life and hits us over the head, stopping us in our tracks unexpectedly and causing us to shift gears. I have experienced quite a few of these cosmic two-by-four’s in my lifetime (some hit harder then others) which have invited me to sink deeper into understanding why these happen and how to operate during a ‘divine storm’.
What I have come to learn is if you view the cosmic 2×4’s for what they really are; a chance to grow, to align with your truth, to move into your own sense of self and love then it is easier to ride those waves when they come crashing. The thing is we are all going to experience at some stage in our lives uncomfortable emotions, traumatic events, and difficult circumstances or what I refer to as ‘funk’. Anyone who is under the influence of thinking life is all rainbows, butterflies and happy moments is delusional and in complete denial. The darkness is what makes the light shine even brighter.
I love the Ralph Waldo Emerson quote; “When it is dark enough, you can see the stars.”
It’s how you operate in your own personal funk that causes you to get stuck. If you listen to the voice of fear, shame, guilt and resistance then you get stuck in amongst the challenges and life becomes difficult and hard.
Most of the clients I have worked with that have been through their own personal cosmic 2×4’s have shared with me that upon reflection they would never change a thing as it was these major life challenges that essentially lead them on a path of intense inner healing and self discovery.
[Tweet “We all learn and grow from the challenging times, the hard times and the most difficult experiences.”]
Recently an elderly gentleman client was telling me his horrific life story and all the things that have happened to him on his journey so far. As he was sharing his experiences I was crying and shocked by them and pretty sure my jaw was lying open on the floor. When I asked him the question of whether would he go back if he could he replied, “once you get the lesson, you respect the teacher and the pain goes away”. I thought to myself, he is a very wise man. He recognised the cosmic 2×4’s for a chance to unshed layers and become great teachers in his life and I was deeply moved and inspired by his insight.
I know that no matter how painful my cosmic 2×4’s were; the death of a loved one, motorbike accident, a relationship breakup, or whatever my experience was at the time I was going through it because of a higher purpose. I had to believe it. I put all my trust in that higher purpose and that trust became what I call my ‘lifeline’.
Whenever I go down to the funk now, because lets face it life will always throw us curveballs, I know that I have ‘lifelines’ that assist in pulling me out when those challenging times present themselves in my life. My lifelines are activities and practices that help to pull me out of my own funk, that ickyness stuck feeling I get when I am trapped inside my own story with a cascade of difficult emotional responses and heightened trigger points. I know without a shadow of a doubt that if I use one of these lifelines when I am in my funk that I will feel better. I may still be down and swimming in my own muck but I will feel better, even marginally, then I did before.
My lifelines include;
Gratitude. Being grateful for everything I have in my life at that moment. I may be experiencing torturous emotional pain but I still have a roof over my head, warm bed to sleep in and food to eat. Focusing on what I do have in my life brings be enormous healing, it’s an essential tool for when I am down in the funk. In my experience the power of gratitude is much stronger when you can still see the light and be deeply grateful for what you have when you are feeling like shit.
Nature. Getting my butt into the ocean or going for a hike or simply lying in the grass on my back. Mother nature always brings me home and biophilia, the healing power of Mother Nature, is something I practice regularly especially when I am in my funk. Whilst there is mountains of scientific research on this topic of how being outside effects our health in a positive way I will not bore you with statistics. All you have to do is go outside feel the air on your skin, take a few deep breaths and you’ll feel it for yourself.
Ask for help. This lifeline is a big one for me and in all honesty I still occasionally have some trouble with asking for help. I was always such a people pleaser and wore a mask of perfection so well that no one would believe me if I had told them what was really happening within me. Now I know that my true strength lies in my ability to be vulnerable and ask for help when I need it. People love to help and nothing brings me greater joy and light in my life the being able to help out someone I love. It makes me feel so good to give from my heart and see them get well again. I know my loved ones feel the same about me and in the past when I was trying to do everything on my own I was denying everyone the chance to help me. When I get stuck now I am not afraid to reach out to someone for help. We can’t do everything on our own and why should we? It’s when we are stuck and down that people are able to really show us love by supporting and nurturing us back to balance.
Dancing and movement. I love this Gabrielle Roth Quote, it sums up my thoughts exactly;
“To sweat is to pray, to make an offering of your innermost self.
Sweat is holy water, prayer beads, pearls of liquid that release your past.
Sweat is an ancient and universal form of self healing, whether done in the gym, the sauna, or the sweat lodge.
I do it on the dance floor.
The more you dance, the more you sweat.
The more you sweat, the more you pray.
The more you pray, the closer you come to ecstasy“.
I need to move in times of stress, its how I release pent up emotion and I cannot tell you how many sweat and tears have poured out of me on the dance floor and I ALWAYS feel better.
Children and animals. Nothing brings me back to the present moment like spending time with children or animals. They still look at the world with awe and excitement, even a leaf or an ant can bring them intense joy and exhilaration. They are wide eyed and open to their surroundings and take in everything that is happening in that present moment. They do not live in their heads but in their hearts and I have received more powerful healing from a cuddle from my dog or a kind word from a child then I would if I spent years talking about my problems in therapy. I believe our children are our real teachers.
Acceptance. After trust, acceptance is always the next step in my healing processes when I am in my funk. I just accept whatever is going on. Just like we learn to accept ourselves in all our delights and imperfections, accepting the situation and experience is just as healing. I say to myself “right now I am in this shitty place and feeling awful and that’s ok because I trust in something bigger and accept I am meant to be going through this in this moment”. I spent years of my life pretending to myself and everyone else that things were ok. Well sometimes things are not ok and the minute I opened myself up to being vulnerable and just accepting what is people really reached out to me and this helped me immensely.
And so I wonder….
What are the activities, practices, or beliefs you have in your life that you know help pull you out of your own funk?
What always makes you always feel better no matter what?
What always makes you feel safe and secure and loved?
What makes you feel like everything is going to be ok?
What do you do that allows you to feel a sigh of relief, even if it is just for a moment?
Leave your comments below as I would LOVE for you to share your lifelines with me.
Here’s to encompassing all we are as a whole – the good, the bad, the light, the dark….all of it.