I remember this world religion class I took in college. While at first, I was just happy to be in a theological class that wasn’t the predominant practice of my school—I attended a religious college that wasn’t my family’s denomination; that’s a story for another time—there are a lot of fundamentals that I still lean back on nearly five years later.
I can still picture us sitting in a large lecture hall, about one hundred or so seats, waiting patiently for our professor to come in. (We’d learn later that his level of leisure was turned down so far to chill, it was lucky our class had time constraints at all.) When he finally did appear, he sort of swooped in: picture Gilderoy Lockhart, Kenneth Branagh-style. He held a beautiful Tibetian Singing Bowl in one hand, a ginormous stack of books in the other. He was flippant and wildly open-minded in all levels of spiritual understanding, much unlike several other of my professors. The first five minutes of every class period were spent meditating, and while I first scoffed at the notion, by the end of our time together, it felt weird not to close our eyes and listen to the cool, melodic tone of the singing bowl.
While we began our meditation each afternoon, my professor would lead us slowly with calming words, teaching and coaxing us. The one thing he often said that still sticks with me, is that during meditation, instead of clearing our minds to feel and see and hear nothing, we should allow each thought to pass us as if we are watching images projected on a large screen. We acknowledge, we understand, and we let go.
I won’t lie, I still never totally felt ‘zen’ when it came to meditating during the classes. Some days I would try, only to think about tests from other classes, dinner ideas, and if I remembered to take laundry home the previous week. But what gave me hope was the idea that you couldn’t really fail. If you felt yourself getting distracted, which honestly happened 98% of the time, you acknowledged your wanderings and, like other feelings and sensations, you let them go.
It strikes me how life can feel exactly like this from time to time. We can have weeks of unbridled passion and creative wonderment and then days of hazy, heavy apathy. We can become bogged down in a singular emotion and forget where we were on this journey of life. Suddenly, we can only focus on the sensations that surround us, not the life happening right beyond our self-created inclosure.
I mentioned on Instagram the other day how I was most definitely not in a moment of creative wonderment and a dear friend of mine reminded me exactly of what I was just speaking about: knowing these emotions are cyclical, the good is bound to come back around.
Just as with the meditation I practiced in university, it's vital in life to remember that feeling this range of emotions is beautiful and most definitely human, but we shouldn't allow ourselves to become stuck on one image—one feeling—for too long. Acknowledge it, thank it for what it has brought to you, and let it go. If we never feel the bad, how can we appreciate the good? Today might not be filled to the upmost with golden sunshine and endless possibilities, but that doesn't mean tomorrow won't be.
I always try to keep my Pinterest board packed with little encouragements and pretty pictures to remind me that there is beauty in the world. These are little reflections to look back on—again, acknowledge—and go. Here are a few of my favorites:
I also enjoy in indulging in a bit of "me time" now and again. Personally, I try to avoid the "treat yo self" verbiage streaming around the internet blogs and lifestyle mags only because, as I'm sure you may also have seen, it seems to be a bit capitalistically centered. While treating our hearts and bodies to good things can often be the first step at loving yourself, it doesn't mean rushing to stores to purchase ludicrously priced items with SEO-obsessed ad words. (Which, PS, I'm super guilty of. #noshame)
When I want to wind down and remind myself I'm OK, I personally enjoy talking walks, perhaps buying a pint of the good ol' Ben and Jerry, and maybe turning on some good tunes or a current TV obsession. These little "disruptions" may help to restart the soul. You can do whatever brings you joy! If going out of doors isn't so much your thing when you're not feeling 100%, don't pressure yourself. Close your eyes, look inward, and ask yourself what you need. Listen to your body. Maybe it's asking for a nap or a good book. Allow these emotions the chance to make themselves present, sort them accordingly, and watch them drift away long after their job is done.
How do you like to acknowledge your emotions? Do you find it easy or difficult? What do you like to do/buy/eat/etc. to help your mind, body, and soul heal?