When faced with an unpleasant reality, like being told I have an incurable rare cancer, I first take 10 deep breaths. But there’s more to it than that. At the requests that I have received, like this one on Facebook, “I am amazed at your strength and that you never seem to be anxious or afraid – or you hide it well! Any coping tips for us who are not that way?” here’s my thoughts.
My analysis of how I respond to things that no one wants to experience in life, likely began in my early childhood years. No two-year-old wants her mother to suddenly die. No child wants to be bounced around like an unwanted volleyball from aunts to cousins to strangers. No child wants the wicked stepmother in her life. But these unpleasant realities were mine as a child. What could I do to bring clarity into my life of family dysfunction? Even back then I knew this was all temporary. I lived outside of my body most of the time. Then one night I literally broke away from it all and said, “no more!”
I found my chi at twelve-years-old. What I learned by taking control of me and walking towards what I wanted, was that there were positive resolutions to the negativity in my life. The key included intent and action.
There’s no need here to list the other unpleasant realities that occurred through my adulthood, but be assured there were moments of emotional explosions, and errors in judgement. And I knew better. I had begun meditation training. Still, there were times when I shouted to the heavens, “Why me?” One day I forced my fist into a wall. (All I got from that was an expensive repair bill and swollen knuckles.)
Hopefully these opening paragraphs set the stage to my means of coping with what I assume is my final challenge in this life — keeping on my feet upright on the ground and savoring life.
First, my life story created a fighter and a survivor. That’s a part of who I am. It’s the good news/bad news. Fighter/survivors tend toward being in control all the time. I’m still working on that control thing.
By example of others, I’ve learned to speak in the manner in which I wish to live. —OK, I’m still working on my potty mouth.— However, the largest slice of my verbal pie seeks positive words and phrases. That’s worked out pretty well for me.
When I observe those who couldn’t make a positive statement even with a million dollars dangling before them, their lives seem to reflect their negativity. But that’s a judgement on my part, so I make a conscious effort to understand that we are all in our places with a variant of lessons to learn. And I thank those persons for showing me how I do not wish to live.
These positive thoughts and words open gates and turns on the lights to what my bigger self instinctively knows — like making wiser choices in life navigation.
Grasping the concept of it all being temporary is a grand healer when challenges arise. We all must face an end to our Earth walk. This is why understanding the temporary concept helps erase angst, stress, regret, and tension.
Service to my community has been the greatest gift that I could have ever given to myself. Presently, I regret that I have to withhold my desire to physically give my time to a worthy cause. Give money instead? I wish that I could, but I must also be mindful of my own financial responsibility for both my life-partner and myself. So, judicious donations are the best that I can do for the moment.
Nature has always been my refuge. Taking joy in the tiniest flower in the middle of the desert is so very life-affirming.
Meditation moments are like taking a bath after playing in the mud all day. Often I must still tame the monkey mind. “The Buddha held that the human mind is filled with drunken monkeys flinging themselves from tree branches, jumping around, and chattering nonstop,” writes Marelisa Fábrega, owner of “Daring to Live Fully.”
This is when I employ those precious 10 deep breaths, utilize my tendency toward control, and within, gently chant my purpose of the day’s meditation. Mostly it is to just be surrounded in the realm of peace and joy. As the monkeys fall asleep I watch the colors changes behind my eyes and my mind revels in the buzz of slipping into a new vibration. On a good meditation, I might reach a golden level. On those days when the monkeys fidget in their sleep, I rest in a haze of blue visions and sounds.
Humor is vastly important in my life. I’d rather laugh than cry.
Finally, gratitude woven between all of these incidents, ideas, and life moments is a proven change maker within.
Unpleasant realities are just that. To me, they are like a gymnasium for body-builders, but for the soul instead. No one can escape life’s unpleasant realities, so in the words of an old CSN song, “Rejoice, rejoice, you have no choice, but to carry on.”