WHAT HELPS ON A WOBBLY DAY – DAY 3
When a boat is caught in cruel weather, the captain either battens down the hatches and sets the sails for safety, or drops anchor, holding out till the storm passes. We humans are not so different. When things get tough, we pull in – literally, our body braces, we vigilantly scan for danger, and we protect those we care about. Life gets small and tight around the event that has triggered us into fear.
In neurobiological terms, our face even subtly changes shape if we detect dangerous sounds and sights, switching on muscles to facilitate better scanning. While we stay safe, this narrow focus has a cost: we lose the bigger picture.
As we work out how to resolve a challenging situation, it is often helpful to open back out again to this bigger picture. In fact, on a wobbly day, the bigger picture may be precisely the place where we can find a balanced overview of the situation. As ever, the invitation is to discover through your own experience if this is true for you.
Today’s invitation is to use the RAIN practice to Recognise (R) and Allow (A) the wobbly and unwanted feelings of stress, anxiety etc to be here (see Days 1 and 2 of this course). Then move into Investigating (I).
The I of RAIN – investigating – can take many forms, but today how about using sight to see a bigger picture? Like a drone flying over the terrain, is it possible to elevate your view?
Holding the fear inside us with kindness and care, we go out into the day and take in the beauty of the world, choosing one specific part of the natural world: grass.
It helps if we set the challenge of looking for the details of what we see. Dropping the name ‘grass’ and looking at texture, colour, light, shade and all the myriad life forms, insects and tiny flowers harboured in it. Grass may seem boring, but actually it is ‘neutral’, it does not have strong negative or positive resonances. In being bland it can soothe a stressed system.
For this exercise to be doubly useful, see if you can notice the benefits as you do it. Does it help you to widen out around the story of the stressful events, coming to see them as small jigsaw pieces in the big picture of your life and the world? If so, how does it feel inside your body? Even if the distress has not diminished very much, do you still feel better? If not, don’t worry – more I(investigative) ideas tomorrow.
Wendell Berry: The peace of wild things
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
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