August 25, 2021
Transitions can really throw a person off, even when the new thing you are anticipating is something great. Transitions that happen in the midst of a Delta variant surge, climate disasters, the Taliban returning to power, and countless other world-shaking events? Those can be even more unsettling.
Uncertainty Can Breed Anxiety
Things are feeling way uncertain again. You might be returning to work or school after a year or more of remote interaction. Whatever your circumstance, how could you not be wondering what will it be like?
- Will I have to mask?
- Will I have to do more things on a screen again?
- Will my relationships feel different? Will I remember how to interact in person?
- What if I feel anxious and really want to turn my camera off but I can't because I am actually sitting in a desk surrounded by co-workers or other students in real life?
Sigh. These are questions we cannot answer. No one can. So, if you cannot find answers to the questions that are making you feel anxious and thus calm yourself with information, how else can you find greater peace inside during this big transition back to an uncertain future?
Finding Peace through Mindfulness
The best way we know is to come home to your body and an awareness of what is happening, right now, in this present moment. Rest in a different kind of certainty: you are alive and breathing, and whatever happens next, you get to be there for it.
Yup. We're talking good old-fashioned mindfulness.
When the not-knowing-what-it-will-be-like anxiety is feeling overwhelming, try this practice:
- Sit or lie down comfortably. Accept that you won't be doing anything else for a few minutes. Close your eyes.
- Take a few breaths that feel natural to you, noticing the feeling of the air moving in and out of your body. Try to keep your attention on the sensation of the breath. If thoughts come up, that's fine. Notice them and let them pass, then come back to the gentle in and out of your breath.
- Draw your attention inward. What's happening? Do you feel tense? Is your heart beating quickly? Are you warm or cool? Do you notice anger, worry, grief? Make note of whatever is there, without judgment, and then let yourself know: However I feel is valid. I don't have to change anything. All of these feelings can be here with me. You might put a comforting hand on your body where you feel the most discomfort. See if you can accept however you feel fully, just for this moment.
The sensations and feelings might change, or they might stay the same. Simply being there with them, and allowing them to exist, is a powerful gesture of love you are making towards yourself.
That's it. When you're ready, open your eyes. Smile, knowing you just supported yourself in a moment of transition, and that you can do that again whenever you want.