I had a heck of a dream in the wee hours that triggered some old emotional wounds. I woke up suddenly and unexpectedly with strong feelings of shame, hurt, and resentment coursing through my veins. Not the most pleasant wake-up call! And after an hour of tossing and turning, I decided to claim it as an opportunity for healing.
As I sat in meditation, I suddenly felt that my apartment was too small, much too small to contain these very big feelings. I hastily rearranged my day, threw my travel mug and a few hard-boiled eggs in my backpack, dug out a scarf, hat, and gloves and headed to the creek.
There is something quite magical about being near running water for me. I find it much easier to exhale. And exhales were what I needed to regulate my nervous system that was edging into the red zone. I knew that if I wanted to have a chance to be with the emotions, I needed to stay out of fight-flight-freeze activation. Once that alarm gets pulled, it takes time for me to reset and dig myself out of survival mode.
The chilly air (hooray for autumn!), the brisk walk, and the majesty of nature all supported my goal, and I was able to sit and breath by the water, allowing the emotions to flow. To my surprise, the entire episode passed pretty quickly because I gave it the space it needed. In the past, this level of intense upset would have sidetracked me for days. Today, it was more or less settled in an hour. I was hope in plenty of time for my 11am meeting, which turned out to actually be at noon, so I had an hour to spare and try to capture my experience in words.
It’s really helpful to have a plan for moments like these. Rational thinking often isn’t available when we get triggered, and it can be hard to figure out a strategy when we’re IN it. Knowing what helps calm you down in advance can be a blessing. For those on the inner journey, doing the work of excavating the caves or exploring the labyrinth, it’s essential.
Movement, sound, breath, nature, and prayer are all tried and true emergency responses. Taking a few minutes on a daily basis to design and refine a protocol when you’re on even ground is a solid step towards saving time and distress when stuff comes up. Building on a foundation of mindfulness and compassion can provide advance warning and the motivation to face challenges head on.
If you have Reiki superpowers, you can use them to help yourself stay centered and willing to meet challenging emotions. For me, it helps to take the edge off and more easily navigate upheaval. The more calm I am, the more likely I am to find the courage and energy to stay put rather than turning to a distraction for artificial relief. It’s a simple as placing a hand on the belly and the other on the heart and thinking “Reiki on”. Let the energy flow and support you on your journey.