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Don’t Run, Don’t Freeze, Just Stay …and Breathe

Staying present opens us to wise choices from the centered self

These days (maybe all days, always) life is often like a seesaw, tipping up, tipping down. We are in a tug of rope with our world, outer and inner. Here or there? Now or later? This or that? And, most dangerously, us or them.

But there are greater options than these “either/or” choices. There are choices that are “both/and” and choices that are “more than.” But how to find these better, truer ways of being? Let’s start with the idea, then the practice of “staying.” Staying here, staying in the now, staying in this body, with all its experiences, staying with what is, rather than all the fantasies of what we’d rather be with.

It's a long way down
Source: Firman

Here we are at the edge of Grand Canyon (fill in that image with whatever you are at the edge of). Breathe, take stock, accept this reality that is in front of you. Breathe again. Think, feel, sense the “what is” of this reality. Don’t imagine a bridge that will get you to the other side, or a slide to take you down into the canyon. Or do enjoy those fantasies for a minute… That would be fun. But there is no bridge, no slide. Now what? Breathing deeply, I have so many options. Watching impulses within me to prematurely commit to a run down the canyon, or an impulse to get away, because it is too much, I take stock.

Taking stock accepts reality for what it is, checks deeply into our own purpose, goals and needs, considers all options and chooses based on a resonant inner knowing, to do one thing or another. And we have to stay, for a long while or maybe just a second, to access our inner compass, our guiding star, our best guess. Unexamined impulses, external norms, fear, greed, custom, anger, grasping, denying, avoiding (to name a few) are not best practice in life. Breathing, accepting, trusting our self, seeing options and choosing, as we can, from what is available is best practice.

How do we stay, in any moment, long enough to make the choice that is closer to our best interests, our hearts, our morals, our deep longing?

Do I listen to the news for so long that I am drained and depressed? Do I turn it off immediately to escape the pain? Is there a middle ground?

Do I say yes to everyone who wants something, giving myself away, regardless of the impact on me? Do I say no to the world, creating safe but limiting boundaries for myself?

Do I act impulsively towards a good cause that holds risk? Or do I move away unconsciously to stay safe?

Notice your own “either/or” places. These are situations in the external world or in our inner world, where we bounce between polarities, or stick to a “side” that offers safety. These are situations where we lose our conscious self and our deep ability to choose in alignment with that self.

Which choice you make, in any circumstance, is never simply right or wrong. But how we make our choices is what guides us towards deeper well-being. Even when we take the “wrong” turn and get lost, we will forgive ourselves more easily, if we made that choice from our best understanding and not from unconscious reactivity. And, noting we are going in the wrong direction, we will forgive ourselves and we will turn to find a better choice of direction as soon as we can.

The journey
Source: Firman

There are the many ways we can stay within long enough to find our truth. Stay, center, breathe. Choose, if a choice is ready to be made and don’t choose if it is not.

Connected to purpose, we deliberate, softly, gently, and sometimes over long periods, before we know what is right. And connected to purpose, we deliberate at the speed of light, when a quick response is called for. Not a panicked, primitive fight or fight response, but a fully human deliberated response. Here, where we stay within, we find ourselves fully conscious, aware of our reality, connected to our inner knowing and ready to choose and act.

Dr. Roberto Assagioli, the author of The Act of Will, a book dedicated to finding our way into healthy choice, noted this: “Passing In inner quietness, slowly listening to hear the right word, I am obeying certain conditions. Shall I take this road or that? Shall I respond to this call or await another?”

The invitation is to trust that you will know what road to take, and it is worth the time it takes to stay with yourself, in preparation for the journey.

More from Dorothy Firman Ed.D. LMHC, BCC
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More from Dorothy Firman Ed.D. LMHC, BCC
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