During my almost 46 years of life experience I realized something critical. No matter how perfect my life was at a certain time, one thing always happened: a problem would eventually come up. Can you relate to that? You are cruising in peace and happiness, you are growing in your job, your kids are doing great in school, your family is healthy, you reconciled with your parents after a long time, your sister finally got a job and left your house, etc, and all of a sudden, out of nowhere you get big news: your spouse talks about divorce, someone close to you was diagnosed with some disease you haven't heard of, your company is acquired and you lose your job, you find drugs in your kid's room, one of your parents passes away or anything else in a multitude of bad things that can potentially happen to us.
Yes, I thought: "No matter how perfect my life seems to be, something negative will come up". And that thought was exactly what triggered my journey to find a resolution. I broke that idea down and a single word stood out from the rest. Guess which one was it? Negative.
That was my break through, my a-ha moment. As I looked back in my life I was able to identify a trend. There was a close relation between how badly the problem affected my life to how negative I perceived it to be. If I thought that my life was going to be critically affected, my life ended up being critically affected. When I thought I was going to be able to recover quickly, I recovered quickly. The outcome was greatly impacted by the way I thought about it. So the solution was easy, right? See everything in a positive way! Well, no. It is not that simple. I mean, that's the idea, however, it's easier said than done. Some problems are really bad and can't be underestimated. But in the end it does matter how you look into it.
I was always a very anxious person. The fact I was constantly expecting a problem to come up made me very apprehensive, and the actual problem made me depressed. So I decided to find a solution. I came to yoga because of that and some other reasons, and a few yoga concepts helped me to change my view of the situation:
- Breathe - it's amazing how shallow and short our breathing becomes when we face problems. That triggers a "panic" reaction in our body and mind to do something immediate. It's there to (or try to) save us from a bear in the forest, but unfortunately in the modern world we can't just run from all our problems (as much as we wish we did many times). Problems have this stubborn way to find us again because no matter how much we run it's in our mind. Changing scenery does help though but that's a topic for another post. So, just breathing properly takes away a lot of the intensity of the problem. Trust me. It does sound too simple and it is. Think about it. Breathing is the source of life. The way we do it has major impacts in the way we live.
- Stay in the moment - anticipation and overthinking has a lot to do with how big the problem becomes in our mind. Another great learning in my journey was that no matter how big the problem was there was always a solution and an end. The anxiety and depression caused by the problem made it bigger than it actually was. Some problems are already big enough so you don't want to make them even bigger. Meditation and asanas helped me focus on the moment and see the problem under different lenses.
I know I can't oversimplify or underestimate other people's problems. I know there are situations that would be unbearable. Reducing the stress of the other ones will at least keep me strong to face them.
Try this. Find a comfortable and quiet place. Take a long deep breathe, hold for a second and then exhale slowly. Exhale twice as long as your inhale. Keep going slower every time. Close your eyes and travel to a place that is naturally peaceful for you: a beautiful and warm beach at sunrise, or the mountains. Stay there and breathe. If your problem tries to come back to your mind, don't wrestle it. Allow it to fly away. As you come back, notice how strong you are to face the problem. You are stronger than you think. Trust me.
Vinicius da Costa has almost 46 years of experience in life ;-), teaches at and helps building Synergy Yoga & Wellness into a place you feel good and welcomed to grow your yoga journey.