Stay With Yourself

October 7, 2020

(4) Comments

“Formation” -acrylic on canvas- Sara Roizen

 

As the days stretch on during this pandemic, it is clear that most of us are now running on fumes – feeling emotionally and physically depleted. We are swamped by an accumulation of stressors. Navigating through a nebulous cloud of uncertainty.

In response, perhaps you have felt increasingly numbed out. Seeking distractions from inner and outer turmoil. Scrolling endlessly on your phone in an attempt to connect with someone or something. Feeling somewhat hopeless in the face of all of the political, environmental, and societal upheaval.

Here’s the thing. If you are a conscious human being at this moment in time, how could you not be painfully aware of the current reality? And, how could this not be impacting your daily life? There is nothing wrong with you if you feel foggy, confused, exhausted, angry, sad, a sense of grief, or lost. There is also nothing wrong with you if you have moments of happiness, contentment, and hope at this time. What it does mean is that you are a human being. A human being with complex feelings and experiences.

Finding Refuge in Self
A few days ago I sat down to meditate. I had been feeling scatter brained, restless, and agitated. I noticed how difficult it had been for me to follow through with anything on my to-do list. A part of me wanted to stay busy and distracted. However a deeper part of me recognized a strong need to pause and slow down. A need to take refuge within and come back to myself.

At first my thoughts became louder and seemed to move faster. However, after a few minutes the incessant mental chatter began to settle. I noticed more inner space. Even the tension in my muscles began to release. We often don’t realize how tense we are until our body finally begins to relax!

At the end of my meditation, the three words stay with yourself floated into my consciousness. I immediately grabbed a pen and notebook and wrote the poem below.

Stay With Yourself

Stay with yourself,
when your heart constricts in fear and uncertainty.

Stay with yourself,
when the way is unclear.

Stay with yourself,
when your mind spins in cycles.

Stay with yourself,
when your body feels worn.

Stay with yourself,
through each threshold moment.

Stay with yourself,
when you want to run away.

Stay with yourself,
and you will find your way home.

Stay with yourself,
and remember you are already home.

We cannot necessarily avoid pain at this time. But can we increase our capacity to stay present with the pain? To show up for ourselves more often, rather than leaving ourselves alone mentally, physically, and spiritually?

Here are a few creative ideas for staying with yourself in those moments you most want to run away.

Write a letter or poem to yourself.
Don’t edit the words or overthink your writing. Just keep the pen flowing across the page. You might want to borrow the words “stay with yourself” and see what words follow that sentence. Each of us will write our way to a different answer. Become curious about what staying with yourself would look and feel like. How would you show up differently in your life with the knowledge that you are already “home?” What old self stories could you release if there was no one else you needed to be? Keep the finished writing in a place you can reread often. Feel free to keep adding to your writing as your ideas evolve.

Art Making
Any time we create it is a chance to come home to ourselves. First, notice if you are feeling pulled to work with a specific art material. It can be as simple as a pencil and a piece of computer paper, or creating something with mixed media. Some ideas to inspire your art making:

Create a symbol for yourself. What colors, forms, and images might reflect your core self? What would coming home to yourself look like? Create a picture of how it would feel to be present with yourself.

Create a mandala. On the inside of the mandala, draw or paint your inner landscape. On the outside draw or paint everything that distracts you from your inner landscape. Notice the outer distractions without judgment and observe how it feels to find your way back to the center of your mandala.

A small shrine I created in my home.

Create a small shrine or three dimensional arrangement in an area of your home. The idea is to create an area that you can look at frequently that elicits feelings of warmth, sanctuary, and calm. You might enjoy finding objects from nature to arrange together. Other ideas could be finding small art objects to arrange together in a way that you find pleasing. Using photos, quotes, or candles may also appeal to you. The simpler the better in some cases. This home shrine can become a place to inspire meditation and personal reflection.

Conscious Distractions
No typos, I promise. At first glance a “conscious distraction” sounds like an oxymoron. But it’s possible. Over my years of trauma informed practice, I’ve learned the importance of encouraging planned distractions. Sometimes our nervous system needs a break. The break allows our entire system to unplug and reset. This is not the same thing as unconsciously “zoning” out. It is a decision to find a pleasant and healthy distraction for a set amount of time.

For example, a few weeks ago I found myself feeling completely worn out. I was surrounded by a pile of things to catch up on around the house. I tried slogging through but just couldn’t rally. Rather than keep pushing, I chose to watch a short Netflix show. I made an agreement with myself not to feel guilty. When the show ended, I stopped it before it could autoplay the next episode! Then I reentered my day with more energy and focus. Other healthy distractions could be reading some fiction, looking at baby animal photos (a crowd favorite), or taking a walk around the neighborhood before returning to work.

Fall flower arrangement.

Nature
As I child I felt closer to myself with every step I took into the woods. Being in nature can help us reconnect with ourselves. We also remember our deeper connection to the planet and each other. If you live in a place close to nature, make a nature date with yourself as often as possible.

Even if you live in a bustling city, there are ways to find and appreciate nature. During all of the years I lived in Queens, I would go on daily walks around the neighborhood. I found beauty in the gardens that grew though the neighbor’s fences. The little wildflowers popping up through the sidewalk cracks. The way the wind moved through the buildings and subway tunnels.

You can also appreciate nature when inside. Caring for a plant within your home can increase your sense of being emotionally grounded. I’ve noticed an increase in the number of green leafy roommates in my home since the beginning of the pandemic. Caring for my plants brings me a sense of calm and quiet presence. If you’re new to plants, do a little research first to find out which plants do best inside and what they require for light and water. If you feel inspired, use paint markers or paint to decorate the pot.

Another simple way of bringing nature inside is flowers. Treat yourself to a bouquet whenever possible. If you have flowers in your garden, create fresh cut flower arrangements for yourself. The act of selecting or arranging flowers can be both soothing and centering. Engage all of your senses. Focus on the combination of colors, textures, and scents.

Music & Movement
Most of us have at least one song that feels like home. The song serves as an anchor to the present moment. Ask yourself, what song feels like “you” today? Is there a song from childhood that brings comfort? Or a song that makes you feel more intensely alive when you hear it? When you have a few minutes, find that song and play it. While listening, tune into your body. Does your body want to move to the song? You can make small movements even in a sitting position. Or if you feel inclined, dance like nobody’s watching! Let go of your analytical parts for a while and give yourself permission to have a solo dance party.

There are many paths back to self. As Ram Dass once said, “We’re all just walking each other home.” Which path back to yourself will you walk today?

 

Stay With Yourself

 

 


4 Comments

  • Dorene

    That really spoke to me. Thanks.

    • Sara Roizen

      Dorene, I’m so glad!

  • MJ

    Thank you for this post. I also read you 2014 post about resist(ance) and watercolor.
    Going to work on the symbol for myself!

    • Sara Roizen

      Thank you so much for your comment! I’m very touched that you’ve been following my blog for the past few years. Thank you for being here.

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