Essays

Soothing and Grounding During Profound Psycho-Spiritual Change

There are times in the process of inner work when a lot of unconscious material may come to the surface all at once. This experience can be overwhelming, disorienting, and sometimes frightening. These experiences usually last for a few days and subside, but in some rare instances the new archetypal energies you are integrating may flow through you for weeks. This is one of the reasons why we each need a guide on the journey, someone who can help us to understand what is happening, where we are in the process, provide comfort that something purposeful is going on, and to reassure us that we are not lost in some scary wilderness.

Once a profound psycho-spiritual transformation process has begun, the best thing to do is to allow it to run its course. Much like childbirth, the best way to move through the process is to cooperate, surrender, and to stay in communication with a good midwife (therapist, spiritual director, soul friend). There are certain activities that have been shown to assist the traveler during these difficult times. When you are experiencing being flooded with internal material the goal is to:

Shift the focus from internal to external.

More concrete tasks- more doing and less thinking.

4 Ground yourself in the physical universe and your five senses.

s Inhabit your body. Tune into your breath.

s Stay in the present moment.

The following activities have been shown to be helpful in this achieving this.

4 Breathe- Breathe slowly and deeply, imagining the breath flowing into every area of your body and then releasing excess energy or tension in that spot. Notice the sensation of the breath as is comes in your nostrils, flows into your belly and exits your nostrils again. Try breathing in slowly and deeply, holding your breath for five counts and then slowly blowing out through your lips as if they were a straw. Pay attention to your breathing.

4 Do one thing at a time.

4 Do some simple basic tasks that can be completed in short frames of time. While you are doing these tasks, attend fully to the five senses. For example: if you are doing dishes, notice the temperature and sensation of the water on your hands, see the bubbles of the dish soap, smell the fragrance, listen to all the sounds inside and outside of your house. If you can, identify what the sounds are. Drink a glass of water and notice the taste, temperature, smell and sensation of the water in your mouth. Go deeply into every aspect of this moment with your five senses.

4 Do something that brings order to your external world: Clear off a counter, organize a drawer, do some laundry, clean, vacuum, create a manageable short list and check some things off. Complete some things.

4 Get your hands in the earth. Feel and smell the dirt. Notice the colors. Plant something, weed a patch. Buy some flowers and arrange them.

4 Notice your emotions and name them. Do not judge whether they are good or bad, or whether they make sense or not. Just observe them. Do not try to figure out where they are coming from. Just let them be.

4 Routine is good. Stay with the familiar rhythms of life.

4 Get into nature- the forest, a park, a beach. Walk, breathe, and notice. If you are in the city find a flower box or go to where there is a water fountain. Engage all five senses as you visit this place. See if you can keep your mind in the present moment anchored in your five senses.

4 Be extra good and gentle with your body and give it extra gentle care. Get more sleep. Take a nap.

4 Have healthy food on hand and eat when you are hungry.

4 Take a long bath with bath salts or bubbles.

4 Move your body- exercise, walk, yoga.

4 Get a massage.

4 Drink lots of water or decaf tea.

4 Pet the dog or cat.

4 Light candles with a fragrance and watch the flame.

4 Sit on the porch and listen to the crickets.

4 Look at the night sky.

4 Start a fire in the fireplace and watch, listen, smell, and feel it.

4 Do something creative that expresses your experience and makes it visible. Form a clay object; paint a mandala using colors that express what you feel. Don’t worry about making it “art”, just get the feeling out. Knit, weave, build something, etc.

4 Collage picking out images that seem to represent what you are experiencing internally.

4 Sing or listen to music that soothes and replenishes you.

4 Do something you’ve wanted to do for a long time.

4 Go to an art gallery for the afternoon.

4 If you can sit and “be”… do so. If you can’t sit then walk or dance.

4 If you have an overwhelming amount of energy moving through you, put on some intense music and dance until you are spent.

4 Take to reading poetry. Search until you find a poem that captures what you are feeling.

4 Wear clothing that fits and makes you feel good.

4 Call a gentle friend and talk about good times and graceful things.

4 Take a small positive action that will improve your situation.

4 Find some small way that you can make someone else’s life better.

4 Smile at the grocery clerk.

4 Talk to a child.

4 Clean some clutter and give a bag to the thrift shop.

4 Take the day off from pleasing others.

4 Take the day off from being perfect.

4 Take the day off from meeting other people’s needs.

4 Get in touch with your inner voice of pressure and tell it that today you will be taking your time.

4 Notice moments of grace and pleasure throughout your day.

4 Identify three things that you need and want in your life right now. Figure out one small step that you could take to forward the attainment of these things. Do it.

4 Do only the essential things in life. Leave the rest for later.

4 Reduce your level of stimulation in your life. Avoid situations, environments and people that upset you or tax your energy. This is not the time to do deep work on your shadow reactions.

4 Say no to social invitations that you really do not want to attend.

4 Do not make any important decisions that don’t need to be made right now.

4 Get together with someone that makes you laugh.

4 Rent an old favorite feel good movie and watch it.

4 At the end of the day find five things to be grateful for.

 

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