These are high stress times and we're all doing the best we can with the coping tools we've learned over time, whether they're helpful or harmful. In "Get Your Life Back" John Eldredge sets forth powerful and practical ways to get grounded, re-connect with God and yourself, and cultivate life-giving practices amidst life's daily challenges.
Let's explore a few of these life-giving practices here:
The One Minute Pause- The state of our world, with the constant stream of news and noise, is constantly triggering our fight or flight response. The one minute pause is simply finding 1-2 times a day to stop, breathe, remind yourself of Truth, find beauty, and get grounded again. Check out the PAUSE app, which can facilitate this practice.
Benevolent Detachment- Praying "I give everyone and everything to you Jesus," throughout the day allows you to release whatever it is you have been holding so tightly. You are literally "creating soul space" for God to come in, acknowledging that He is God and you are not, and giving it all (whatever that may be to you) to Him. What peace and freedom we can find when we release all we've been trying to control or make happen, to Him.
Getting Outside and Drinking Beauty- Discover the beauty around yourself- it can be in nature, poetry, art, music, patterns or texture, sunlight. For me I find beauty most easily in nature, which I write about more here; simply being in nature or watching something in nature fosters healing. So when you go outside, engage with nature- feel the leaves, touch the bark of a tree, notice the breeze or the warmth of the sun on your skin. This grounds you in the present and in reality. This gets you out of your head and into your body.
Eldredge goes on to describe the power of being with horses as well...."We must engage with the real world. Thus the quote- variously attributed to Churchill, Will Rogers, and Reagan- that 'The best thing for the inside of a man is the outside of a horse.' Because when we encounter an actual horse- not online, not through Instagram, not the little horse emoji on your phone, but a living, breathing, thousand pound animal, we are thrust into a dynamic encounter with the real. It calls things out of us, not only fears, anger and impatience to overcome, but intuition and presence and a sort of firm kindness that no video game can ever replicate. There's no switch you can flip; you must engage." This is exactly why we integrate horses into the counseling process through the Eagala model, because they invoke presence and meet you where you are in a very real, tangible way.
4. Simple Unplugging- We are a tech-obsessed culture, constantly feeling compelled
to check our phones and fill the void, distracted from real people sitting next to us and real
life. I appreciate technology for the tool that it is, but it must be kept in check. In a world that
is supposedly so connected through technology, we are more depressed, anxious and lonely
than ever before, with ever-increasing suicide rates. Unplugging is setting boundaries around
where you use your phone or computer, and for how long. It's deleting social media apps
from your phone and limiting the amount of news you consume on a daily basis. It's leaving
your phone at home and going for a walk, or leaving your phone inside while you go play
with your kids outside, or walk the dog. To explore more about cultivating a healthy
relationship with technology, watch The Social Dilemma and check out Cal Newport's book
5. Kindness Towards Ourselves- How are you treating yourself these days? What is your
"way" with yourself? What expectations are you placing on yourself? What's the pace you're
currently demanding of yourself? Be gracious with yourself. Extend the same kindness you
would towards another to yourself. Don't expect perfection.
I don't know where you are today, or what you are currently facing. But I hope you can try out one of these practices and see what happens. Were you able to let go, even a little? Are you feeling a little calmer or connected? How did noticing the beauty around you nourish your soul?