How to Get Your Cool Back

I lost it yesterday.  After several days of heavy gray skies, the afternoon sun broke through and the clouds blew away.  I was driving north at the time, heading home from a friend’s house, and my spirits soared as I gazed at the stretch of blue sky.

Then I turned west and saw that, above the clouds, planes had been busily laying down their trails.  They aren’t contrails, you know.  Exhaust doesn’t stop and start.  And it doesn’t continue across the entire sky, from horizon to horizon, spreading broadly.  These spreading white and charcoal strips were the product of “stratospheric aerosol injection.”  And the aerosols, I had learned, held all sorts of toxins that are harmful to every living thing on the earth.  Nanoparticles of aluminum, barium, strontium, lithium and more are falling daily now from the skies, and all of us are breathing them.

Normally, like pretty much everybody else, I ignore them.  There’s nothing I can do about them anyway.  Why let them detract from an otherwise beautiful day?  But I’d recently been exposed to more information about them, and yesterday the sight of them triggered me big-time.

At first I was mad.  Then my mood crashed into a combination of profound sadness and helplessness.  I wanted my sky back.  The one I knew as a kid.  The one where skies were a clear and vibrant blue and where clouds were puffy and looked like heaps of whipped cream.  Not skies that were dropping poisons on us all, night and day, killing off animals and plants, sickening my fellow human beings.

To make it worse, I ran across an article this week that theorized we’d been spraying so heavily for so many years now that we might create even bigger problems if we stopped.

So here I was, bummed out mightily about a problem over which I have absolutely no control.  And some of me realized that was downright stupid.   I couldn’t impact the problem in the skies, but I did have a say about my state of mind.

That’s the first step toward regaining your equilibrium when you’re upset:  Recognize that you’re upset.  Admit that it doesn’t feel good at all.  Then, you take the second step: Deciding to feel better.

You might think I’m going to tell you to think positive thoughts.  A lot of people think that’s what positive living is all about.  But it’s not.  And that’s not what I’m going to tell you.

The next thing you do, after you become consciously aware that you’re upset, is to let yourself feel your emotions.  Feel the weight and texture and color of them.  Notice where they are in your body:  In your throat? Gut?  Shoulders?  Chest?  Recognize them as a valid part of you, as an aspect of your experience of being human.  Then send them some acceptance.  Be generous to them and compassionate.  Around the world, right this very moment, thousands of other people are feeling very much the same thing.  Maybe not for the same reasons.  But they’re feeling the same way.  Send a little wave of compassion to them, too.

Then, just breathe.  Take a nice, slow breath and let it out.  Then another, and another.  And you’ll begin to notice how the feeling softens and begins to dissolve.  All it wanted was your acknowledgement and acceptance.

That’s what I do.  It’s a beautiful technique, and it leaves you feeling larger somehow, big enough to hold even the suffering of life.  And the suffering, once acknowledged, finds its place and eases, freeing you to notice some of the other things you’re capable of experiencing.  Like peace, and sometimes—actually pretty often—a kind of openness and joy.

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