Sometimes we all experience what feels like the full force of gravity; physically and emotionally heavy as if we’re carrying an invisible burden. It could be we received some bad news, are feeling anxious about uncertainty at work or in the wider world, have problems in a relationship, are not sleeping well, or something else that’s making it difficult to keep our head above water. We get used to walking around with our body full of tension as it braces under the strain; as if we’re submerged underwater like a disorientated diver, under pressure and losing his way to the surface.
When we go through periods of stress, one approach is to take a break or holiday to recover if that’s an option. But before we know it, we’re back in the same environment as the precious moments of rest become a distant memory. It’s unfortunate that when we’re submerged in a state like this, our internal resources are limited, and we experience lower energy.
Rather than allowing things to build up, what if there was a way of releasing the pressure, lifting ourselves out of the submerged heaviness, and recovering a bit of peace and balance?
When a balloon rises, the hot air inside is less dense than the cooler air outside, making it buoyant. As well as changing density, the hot air balloon also uses the release of ballast to control buoyancy. So, if we can increase our buoyancy, maybe we can lift ourselves out of feeling submerged and heavy?
Many things increase the felt sense of density. The normalized, ever-present background tension in our body, the negative emotions that we hold that relate to these sensations, and the agitated automatic thoughts that keep the emotions energized, in a vicious circle.
Some other ways that mindfulness can help us keep our heads above water include:
- Being aware of and curious about old habit patterns that no longer serve us
- Coming to our senses, especially the sense of hearing; opens our awareness to a more expansive presence, away from restless thinking
- Connecting with life’s energy by taking a walk in nature, appreciating the wide, open sky, and enjoying the birdsong
- Making sure we get a good night’s sleep and catch up on sleep debt if it builds up
- Accepting and planning, as far as we can, to manage uncertainty, rather than avoiding it and allowing anxiety to disturb the present moment
- Training our minds to serve useful, expanding, and nurturing thoughts rather than negative, limiting, and depleting ones
Albert Einstein said, “You can’t solve a problem with the same level of consciousness that created it”. By using mindful awareness we’re better able to notice what’s going on in our lives and use skills to release tension, allow emotions to dissolve, and settle overactive and restless thoughts. We can also use metaphors in the world around us. For instance, next time you’re on a flight that takes off on an overcast day, watch out for the point where the aircraft emerges through the clouds that hide the sun from the people below.
Life is complicated and we all experience times when we feel a bit submerged. Rather than putting up with this, there are ways that we can actively break out of the feelings of heaviness and limitation to enter a happier, healthier state of being, where we find greater ease.
Suggested weekly practices
- If you feel a bit heavy and overwhelmed with problems, ask yourself, “What problems do I have in this moment?” and see what difference that makes.
- Notice your inner weather, acknowledging any negative or difficult feelings that are around as well as related thoughts, as you let go and release any heaviness that you find.
- When you walk, imagine how difficult it would be to lift someone the same weight as yourself and notice the buoyancy you feel when walking; how your muscles and frame naturally support your body, so it feels much lighter than it is.
Find somewhere undisturbed and sit in a comfortable, dignified, and upright posture, where you can remain alert and aware.
There are two guided practices for this session. You can close your eyes, or lower your gaze while the meditations play.
- Play the first settling practice, then read through the session content, which you can print off if that helps.
- Then play the second practice to explore what may be weighing you down, then let go like a hot air balloon as you release into a lighter and more expansive space.