“The outer teacher is merely a milestone. It is only your inner teacher that will walk with you to the goal, for he is the goal.” ~Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj
Recently, I had a very bad day. It was a day when certain life events made me so scared, so panicked I felt like I was floating in a dark void with no connection to anyone or anything, certainly not myself.
It wasn’t one bad thing that happened, just an accumulation of family stresses, worries, questions, uncertainty, and self-doubt that flooded my spirit. I had been going-going for many days and lost touch with myself and it caught up with me—just like that. It spun me right off my center.
Although I know as humans we are imperfect, I judged myself as a fraud.
I’ve devoted myself to my inner-work for decades. I have a counseling psychology degree, published a self-help book and card deck set, and write articles with lessons about being peaceful, content, and happy.
But on this day, I needed to figure out how to help myself.
I tried to remember the amount of teachings spiritual, psychological, and creative I have collected in my toolbox over the many years.
I thought about the great teachers of the world that offer incredible valuable assistance to one’s growth and discovery. And remembered that without the application of the teachings, we remain a head full of knowledge rather than a being who is at peace and free.
I needed to be my own teacher in the moment, but I felt so weak and vulnerable I couldn’t connect to any of the teachings. This was a red flag of an emergency for me.
Lying on my bed in a temporary freeze, I thought about common emergency instructions we are given in case of disaster. The building’s sign: “In case of fire, take the stairs not the elevator.” The flight attendants: “Cover your own mouth first, then your child’s.” When a tsunami hits: “Run to higher ground.” The tornado: “Open the windows so that they will not shatter” or “Go to the nearest shelter” Even for the addict, “Pick up the phone and call your sponsor.”
And I thought well hell, when I can’t figure out what else to do right now why not use these instructions as a way to aid this seemingly awful day of disaster?
In case of fire, take the stairs, not the elevator.
Yes, the point is that we could get trapped in the elevator, but our physical body or nervous system may also shut down if we try to take the fastest route. In times like these, we need to slow down, remain calm, up our awareness, and walk, not run, to the nearest exit.
I realized my fear was making me want to run, to escape, to flee from the overwhelm I was feeling. I told myself to stop—just stop whatever I was doing and take the day off from having to come up with answers. It was an emergency after all ,and I needed to treat it like that for my own safety and perhaps, the safety of others.
Cover your own mouth first, then your child’s.
I had to admit to myself that on this day I did not have any energy to give to anyone else because, after all, I am unable to help anyone else if I cannot help myself first.
I humbled myself by admitting to my weakness and told those nearest to me that I was not able to be fully present with them right now. I asked for space to care for myself.
Whatever the self-care is that you need—rest, exercise, meditation, yoga—draw on your own support system above all else.
Run to higher ground.
What we need most in times like these is to connect to the spiritual level. It doesn’t mean you have to pray, although that may be helpful for you.
For me, I knew “higher ground” lives in the spaciousness of my heart. And what I needed most of all was a release: A deep let go with a big cry and to allow myself to safely fall apart before I could have an understanding of how to put my pieces back together.
After I let myself cry into my pillow, my mind stopped running and I could focus on my heart, alive and beating in my chest. I had emptied my full cup and could connect back to myself again.
Open the windows and doors so that the glass will not shatter.
I needed perspective: To open the window, the door to my boxed in self and have a wider view. The simplest way for me to gain perspective was to open to all of my senses.
What do I see, hear, smell, feel on my skin, and taste?
Opening myself to experience the sensations around me, I made a conscious decision to stop trying to figure out my problems through my mind and cease from having to come to conclusions.
I reminded myself, “All in due time, my friend… When the answers are ripe the true knowing will come.”
Experience the spaciousness around you not from the contracted mind that knows things from the intellect, but from the space of the mind that is infinite within and without.
Stretch the periphery above, below, behind, and in front of you in a 360-degree direction and become aware of your awareness.
Go to the nearest shelter.
On that day, my shelter was my best girlfriend. I reached out for her help. She told me if I couldn’t trust myself in that moment to trust her—that she knew I was going to be OK, that I was safe. Her love and warmth gratefully held me.
But our shelter does not have to be another person. It could be with nature, in our spiritual practice, in a day we choose to meet our inner-selves, turn off to the world, and retreat. It could be doing something that connects us to something we love, writing in a journal what we are grateful for, taking a swim, or listening to a beautiful piece of music.
But rather than isolate ourselves, we must connect to something, because in connecting to something we connect back to ourselves.
Call your sponsor.
We don’t have to be in a 12-step program and have a sponsor to receive support because in any moment, at any time, our Higher Self is there to call.
See your Higher Self sitting across from you. The all-knowing, trusting, beautiful one inside of you who knows you are OK, good, safe, and lovable.
Do like I did and say, “Hey, I’m having a really bad, no-good, terrible day, could you be there for me? Will you help hold a space for me to talk, to cry, to share myself? Could you guide me and fill me with the truth of your wisdom?”
Ask your Higher Self for support and ask Her or Him to speak with you. He or She is always happy to oblige if you open to share and listen.
Part of life includes having no-good, terrible, bad days. Remember when they do come, even if they take you by surprise, to have faith that you can carry on after the storm, after the wreckage has come. Know you are stronger from any challenges you experience and that you will endure because you choose to be aware of how you grew for the better.
Photo for El coleccionista de instantes