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Applying Mindfulness in a Crisis


Even though we might not like change generally speaking, humans are conditioned to be resilient, and to adapt to changes as necessary.

But what happens to that resilience and flexibility when we face a real crisis? A crisis will mean different things to different people: It could be a car accident, a breakup of a relationship, being made redundant, ill health or a serious misfortune. Whatever the situation, the chances are you are leaning towards running away from the difficulties. But, no matter how you run, some problems literally follow you like a dark cloud overhead…

What if, instead of putting a positive spin on the situation and pretending you are okay – you faced the difficulties instead of avoiding them? 

Acknowledge the problem. Whatever the situation, or whatever, has happened – this is factual and cannot be reversed. It has already occurred!

Worse than what has happened is the suffering that is taking place in your mind. You may be flooded with emotions and feelings: anger, fear, frustration, even hopelessness. You cannot always control your thoughts or feelings, but you can choose how much you decide to suffer.

The hard but necessary part is to move towards the source of pain; and let go of how unhappy it is making you.

Do not mistake the above information; for a suggestion that you should not have emotions – as this is impossible and not helpful. But more to stop focusing on what has happened; and what might happen and instead concentrate on the present. When we stay in the present, the negative thoughts fade into the background and lose their power and momentum.

How to move beyond the crisis and the pain it is causing:

Stay in the present as much as possible.

When you notice that your suffering has crept back in – acknowledge it and send gentle compassion. Over time, you should be able to override the sensations you are experiencing at that moment; anger or impatience, for example – and you will see these ebb backwards.

If you cannot ignore the pain – instead of fighting – lean into it. It is okay to feel your feelings, to cry, to scream…

When it feels as if the problem is crowding out everything else, try this solution: Imagine that you are a photographer and to get the best picture – you need to stand back and get a wide-angled view. The rest of your life – your family, friends, job, home, hobbies, nature and the wider world we live in; should all come into focus, reminding you that you are part of something bigger and not just about the problem in-hand.

When you are feeling stronger it is time to work on the problem, as well as the symptoms of the issue. These actions will help to diminish the pain in the long term.