Riding the Waves of the New Year & Decade with Awareness
We are certainly living in very interesting times. Now, as never before, our socio-political landscape is shifting rapidly. Almost daily we are faced with news headlines that shake the foundation of what we assumed would or could happen. The level of perceived uncertainty experienced by humanity has been, and continues to be, unprecedented in this new decade. Where past generations could create and then carry out a five-year plan, millions of people today find the direction of their lives greatly altered within the course of a few weeks or months. Riding these rollercoasters of emotion can feel like our new, perhaps uncomfortable reality.
With wave upon wave of change, we may find ourselves riding rollercoasters of emotion which impacts how we show up; in our work, our relationships, and for ourselves. With each additional piece of news we digest online, we may feel pushed into despair, or lifted to joyful heights. This is occurring at an accelerated rate and we may be struggling to keep up with the cascade of thoughts, feelings, and accompanying hormones.
Reflecting on our Emotional Landscape
On January 20, 2021 the United States inaugurated a new President, and the first female, Black, South Asian Vice President. Throughout this day, I witnessed my emotions and tracked my internal responses to news and online commentary. Some of these were very intense indeed! Upon reflection, I recognized that I am sharing a moment with millions of people who may be surfing waves of strong emotions. Some of these emotions may be labeled as positive; ecstatic, relieved, hopeful. Some of these emotions may be labeled as negative; angry, betrayed, resigned. Regardless of how one may have voted in November, or whether one’s personal life has been directly affected by COVID-19, everyone has likely experienced strong emotions over the past few weeks and months.
On Inauguration Day, I was also struck by how my emotional spectrum four years ago was more or less the opposite of what I was currently experiencing on a visceral level. Recognizing this solidified my ability to see how external conditions can have a strong effect on me, and how often these days I am like a small ship tossed around on a massive stormy sea. I know I am not alone in this, and want to bring awareness to the collective experience of being inundated by change and uncertainty.
Pause and Practice for Balance
Yet there is hope for all of us, across the political spectrum! In this rapidly and ever-shifting climate, we have the life-rafts of yoga, meditation, and contemplative time in nature. We each have the power and capacity to pause, notice emotions as they arise, and create a bit of space between ourselves and this wild rollercoaster ride.
The essence of yoga and meditation is to remind ourselves of our true nature as embodied energy. We have a short and precious time on this planet to experience life, to connect with our experience, and to ease the suffering of others. It is challenging to fully embrace this truth of fluidity when we are constantly being shipwrecked by tidal waves of strong emotion.
The next time you begin to feel the rollercoasters of emotion arising within you, whether you label it as positive or negative, I encourage you to try this simple practice. It doesn’t require anything external, and will take less than five minutes to experience.
Meditation to use when riding rollercoasters of emotion
- Take a full breath in, and as you exhale let your awareness travel down to whatever parts of your body are in contact with the earth or the surface beneath you (i.e. your feet or your seat).
- Pause here and allow yourself to become fully absorbed in the sensation of your physical body contacting the surface beneath it.
- Next, commit to taking three breaths. This should be relatively easy since you are breathing anyway! Follow the course of the inhale, beginning at the nostrils, all the way down to the abdomen, then allow the exhale to freely leave the body, perhaps washing all the way down to those points of connection between you and the earth.
- After the completion of your third breath, take a moment to honestly assess whether your level of emotionality or activation has changed. If you find this to be the case, perhaps give yourself three more deep breaths.
Practice becoming comfortable with change
This short practice is accessible, free and can be done by most people in any location. My hope with this practice is to encourage us to come back to the very simple truth of who we are; embodied energy that is constantly in a state of change. When we are able to see how rapidly we can shift our own internal compass, we may find a greater sense of ease as we swim through the turbulent waters of our time.
You may choose to follow this up by taking some time to walk outside without any hurry, to sit somewhere outdoors, or find a place where you can rest your whole body on the earth. Feel the air in contact with your skin; allow your senses to connect you to your environment. When we spend quiet time in any natural setting, we can’t help but be reminded of how we are part of a greater whole. Give yourself this opportunity regularly, and over time notice whether it is supporting you in a world that will inevitably continue to change.
Paula Wild is the Program Manager and Lead Trainer for Balanced Rock Foundation’s WildYoga Teacher Training. Paula’s teaching blends alignment based, heart-centered, therapeutic yoga with her love and knowledge of ecology and natural history. Since 1999 Paula has been exploring the overlap between yoga and sustainable living, and her greatest intention is to support people in connecting to the wild world within, and around us. Please check out more wonderful programs to inspire health and wellbeing through deep connection to nature and spirit at Balanced Rock!