The reality is that sometimes life throws you a curveball. Sometimes you get one curveball after another. Sometimes things truly fall apart. Sometimes, even when you have given 100% of amazing effort and planning, everything changes. The reality is that if we are fully alive, we must face the truth that life is constant change, and sometimes that change can challenge us in the deepest ways. That very change will bring up everything we have not fully integrated from our past and it will teach immense lessons on so many levels of our experience. I have noticed that the more fully we commit to the epic journey of our life, its as if life itself becomes an incredible teacher.
I’d like to share some simple wisdom, borne of raw experience, for these times of difficulty, challenge, and transition. It can be really annoying to hear this when we are in the middle of the most challenging times to say that these truly are the times that define us, that make us into more loving, compassionate, powerful, courageous, and soulful human beings. ANd yet it is 100% true. How we handle these times – how we respond – is what actually charts our destiny, not the external events in of themselves.
In this brief blog, I’d like to offer some very tangible heart advice for navigating difficult times. In reality, no blog, no pithy advice can take the place of living your life fully. All I can do here is simply point to some amazing time-tested tools that help you ground into a deep well of resourcefulness. And when we do that, we tap the reserve of everything we need to be fully responsible. To be fully response-able. To transcend reactivity and to move more fully into conscious growth and progress. Change is absolutely inevitable. Progress, however, is 100% on us. Gratefully, we are also surrounded by Grace at all times, and all we need to is turn to that Grace with a willing heart and we will be led each step of the way.
I have said this often, and it is worth saying again (and again). No matter what is happening in our life, consistency on the fundamentals is imperative for growth and progress. So, when life gets funky, its even more important to anchor in and find great steadiness and stability in the core fundamentals of our life. In navigating life’s storms, here are the core practices and concepts that I find immensely helpful.
- Take care of your body + your physiology: Stress has two dimensions – distress (painful and destructive stress) and eustress (change inducing and growth producing stress). One of the core things that differentiates which way this will go is our inner reserve of energy and resourcefulness. So, you have to take care of your physical “vehicle”. Am I getting 7-8 hours of sleep every night? Am I hydrated? Am I eating living foods? Am I eating lots of greens and fruits? Am I taking at least one day off per week from work?
- Take care of your brain and nervous system: You simply have to make sure you not only have gas in the tank but that nervous system can support you and help you move into higher and higher levels of growth. It is so easy to float back into old learned stress responses. Yet, those won’t bring you to where you want to be. So, in my opinion practices like Network Spinal Analysis and Somato Respiratory Integration are amazing in their ability to support us into peak levels of performance while we re-learn great ways to bust stress. They support our nervous system to be in a place of resourcefulness rather than distress. Other forms of chiropractic, bodywork, and acupuncture can also be very helpful. Eat lots of essential fatty acids – these feed your brain. If you are not a fish eater, take a fish oil supplement. I like Cod Liver Oil and DHA supplements the best.
- Have a “Soul Pod” of trusted friends: Have a group of people who can support you and that you can build community, authenticity, and vulnerability with. I cannot tell you how important this is. You don’t need to be a lone wolf. Often times we build the deepest relationships in our most challenging times. Being vulnerable is one of the most powerful practices for a great life. It will shake your soul to its core and transform you in its fire. It creates deep empowerment coupled with a sweet humility.
- Move your body and exercise! Run, walk, do yoga, lift weights. Move your body and exercise. The science is so clear on this. It is important ALL the time, and especially when we are feeling that temptation to collapse into stress and stop taking care of ourselves.
- Tough + challenging times are a great time to get a coach or a mentor. Having a few mentors and coaches in my corner (which I have done for YEARS) is not only a key to my “success” and “flourishing life”, it helps me navigate challenging times. I cannot say enough about this practice. Finding a great coach can be a challenge, but they are out there. When your heart is ready, the right teacher will appear. Get referrals from others who have had great experiences.
- Get wise counsel and therapy: Sometimes what we go through can bring up such storms of emotion and old feelings that having a great therapist to help navigate that can be indispensable. Loss, grief, and major life transitions sometimes require a level of subtlety, compassion, and guidance that therapists are best trained to facilitate.
- Meditate: the research is so clear on the power of meditation to literally cultivate our minds and hearts. Its one of those things that if they could bottle it, Big Pharma would have a new trillion dollar drug. However, thank goodness, they can’t but you CAN choose to learn it and practice it. There are lots of great ways to do this. Find one that speaks to your heart. Transcendental meditation, mindfulness meditation, centering prayer, and many more are easy to learn and there are most likely groups or teachers in your area.
- Deepen intimacy: if you are in a marriage or partnership, really get solid in your connection, communication, and commitment to deepening the relationship.
- Deepen your connection to your life purpose: When we are firmly anchored in our great life purpose, we are not thrown about by changing tides and shifting winds. Just a quick hit on “purpose”: its not what you do. Its not something external. For instance, my purpose is not to be a chiropractor or health coach. My purpose is to act as a loving, compassionate, and wise change agent so that I might fully experience and transmit unconditional love, vitality, vibrance, well-being, and true happiness. EVERYTHING I do, therefore, will be permeated by this great purpose.
- Learn from others: read great books, take new classes. Learn what the “masters” of life have done. There is a powerful “teachability” and “humility” that occurs during challenging times and learning is exponential during this period.
- Have fun and celebrate life: One of my mentors taught me that no matter what, life is unconditional celebration. Sure I’ll feel joy and I’ll have grief. But connecting those 2 poles is celebration of my epic journey of life. So, find ways to really celebrate to have fun. I find it best to do this in community and with close friends. You deserve to celebrate, no matter what is happening. Unconditional celebration is a healing elixir for the soul.
- Pray and get your spirituality on: There is simply no substitute for deepening your experience of spirituality and surrender. In that experience, through whichever path most fits our heart, we uncover the diamond of the heart, find a connection beyond words, experience peace that passes all understanding, embody a radiant and living happiness, and find the gift in all wounds.
I’ll close with a brief story. Tina Turner, one of the great American music acts went through a phenomenally difficult time with her abusive and manipulative husband Ike Turner. After much challenge and strife, she took her power back and reclaimed her life. For her, the practice of Buddhist meditation was a huge part of her transformation. She practices a form of Buddhism that used a mantra said over and over again. The mantra was Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo. Basically, it means that the deeper the mud, the more beautiful the lotus flower. Her healing and growth inspired millions and her flower of beauty grew as she courageously stepped into her power. Every challenge we have is a call to develop a deeper story of meaning and to use it as the fuel to heal every aspect of our life and rocket us into a new dimension of joy, usefulness, relationship, and authenticity. All pain is a call to wake up.
Finally, just remember that courage is the baseline of all transformation and growth. Believe me, I know life can be scary. Its not that we don’t feel and acknowledge the fear, its that we keep stepping forward into courage. The 12 steps outlined here can help facilitate this.
Keep walking, you are not alone.
Dr. Matt Lyon
Charlotte NC Chiropractor