Normal Turbulence


These days, I’m coming to appreciate mere normalcy more than ever. You know, the kind of day when you wake up, make some coffee and breakfast, go to work, maybe see a friend for lunch, make dinner, hang out with the fam, and go to bed. A day devoid of drama — nobody’s died, nobody’s almost died, nobody’s been convicted, nobody’s getting divorced, and nobody’s been shot and killed at the local mall. In recent times, all of those things have happened, and some have become shockingly common occurrences. There’s nothing particularly special about any of this…these things happen every day, all over the world. The density of these events in my life, however, has sometimes been breath-taking; not to mention that they’re happening to people I love. I’m realizing that this is, in fact, “normal,” whether I like it or not. Joy and pain are two sides of the same coin in this life; a few things are helping me navigate these turbulent waters:

Rely on your community. I’m fortunate to be part of several communities of people who I can count on…family, church, and yoga communities. I’m not doing life on my own. While my tendency is to cocoon, especially when it all seems to be too much, I’m learning that reaching out is better than withdrawing.

Remember to be grateful every day. No matter what’s happening, there’s something to be grateful for. Find it. As Meister Eckhardt wrote, “If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.” I’ve taken to watching at least part of the sunrise every morning, giving gratitude for the new day and the Creator who made it.

Keep the big picture in mind. Some days are harder than others to hang onto the belief in a Grand, Good Plan. And yet, all is despair without that faith. Ann Voskamp writes in One Thousand Gifts:  A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are, “I’ve got to get this thing, what it means to trust, to gut-believe in the good touch of God toward me, because it’s true: I can’t fill with joy until I learn how to trust.” There’s certainly no joy in stress! So rather than wearing stress as some weird badge of honor, I’m continually choosing to trust God. Sometimes it’s a minute-by-minute thing, and that’s ok.

Stay present to your breath and your body every day. Shocking, I know, that a yoga teacher would say this! But here’s the thing — if you’re paying attention, really paying attention, to your breath, then you’re automatically being present in that one moment. Your mind isn’t wandering to the past or future when you’re focused on this very breath — a welcome mental break. Being present, breath by breath, also plays a healthy trick on your nervous system, and calms you down despite your best efforts at hysteria. Try this:  sit somewhere, and notice the parts of your body that are touching something…feet to the floor, butt on the chair, etc. Sit up tall and take a hand to your heart. Place the other hand on your belly. Relax the tops of your shoulders down, away from your ears. Close your eyes if that feels comfortable, and begin by noticing the rise and fall of the chest. Gradually allow the breath to deepen into your belly, and let the belly expand into your hand with every inhale. A long, smooth exhalation finds the belly retreating inward. Notice the warmth beneath each hand. Whenever your mind wanders, gently bring awareness back to your breath. Allow the sense of yourself sitting and breathing to really wash over you, to renew and refresh you.

Be generous with “I love you.” Just say it, every chance you get, over and over and over. Make no assumptions about what someone knows. No matter what we know, we all want to hear it.

Normal day, let me be aware of the treasure you are.
Let me learn from you, love you, bless you before you depart.
Let me not pass you by in quest of some rare and perfect tomorrow.
Let me hold you while I may, for it may not always be so.
One day I shall dig my nails into the earth, or bury my face in the pillow, or stretch myself taut,
or raise my hands to the sky and want, more than all the world, your return.
–Mary Jean Iron

View my complete schedule of yoga classes at the Yoga Center of Columbia!

1 comment so far

  1. Jeff on

    “Normal” is only a dryer setting, not a description of life 🙂

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