I often emphasize the present moment as a way to get clients away from the worries of tomorrow and the misfortunes of yesterday. However, sometimes there’s too much pain in the present to tell anyone to be mindful of the “now.” Sometimes, there’s too much pain to paint anyone a pretty picture… it invalidates the experience and you render yourself useless no matter how good your intentions may be. Any variation of getting people to look on the bright side of their circumstances can broaden the gap of what stands between their surrounding darkness and hope.
A person who has lost the will to live cannot be coerced to reframe or alter the narrative of the crisis. The crisis, be it the loss of freedom, a child, an illness, or abuse, is remedied through a rigorous validation and honesty. Both the sufferer and helper must bring forth an honesty of the situation that conveys the present reality for what it is- painful and seemingly intolerable. Yet, the future must always be accounted for with just as much honesty and responsibility as the present. While the moment may prove harsh, the future provides an infinite amount of possibilities-hope reigns abundantly in the future- hope of less pain and more peace, hope of reconciling the worst acts, the healing of deep wounds, the regaining of freedom, and the refining of one’s character made possible by difficult times.
I’d like you to try something. I want you to feel your anxiety, the train of thoughts , the hamster on the wheel, the fear, that overwhelming pressure of stress.
Ok, now I’d like you accept it without judgement. This is the hard part.
How is this helpful? What is the point? Did a therapist really just tell me to be anxious?
Well, acknowledgement of your feelings can allow you to regroup and refocus, to better react. Our amygdala is about the size of pea, and it’s responsible for all those things that keep us up all night, going over the lists of what was wrong and what was right. But, if we can take the time and step outside of the abstract picture of thought and see the frame, we can better see the painting.
I have been a drummer for about 17 years. Occasionally, in my new band ( no this isn’t self promotion) I need to play a drum solo. It can be nerve racking and stressful , especially in the middle of an intense show where I am drenched in sweat. Benny Greb, a drummer once said: ” If you can step outside that zone, the zone of thought , and regroup and refocus yourself , you can perform better because you are not on autopilot mode.”
So the next time you are feeling anxious, the next time life hands you a drum solo of anxiety, take the time to regroup and refocus. Mindfulness, isn’t just some new age meditation. Through controlled breathing , visualizing with hope and slowing your thoughts down, you can control how you want to approach a situation at work, at home or on stage.
Meditation will not rid you of inner turmoil, being completely sincere will. Do this often. Then meditate.