912th Week: Responding to Challenges

I haven’t posted a practice in conscious living for a few weeks now, as life has intervened with some challenges that have required my deep attention. As I’ve thought about this recent time, I want to share a practice I have engaged that may be useful to describe.

One of the sweet feline family members who live with me has required medical attention and I found myself faced with having to give him a subcutaneous infusion for hydration every day, to support what his kidneys can’t currently do efficiently right now. My relationship with needles has mostly been around experiences of blood draws, shots, and acupuncture, but I haven’t been the one managing the needles. So, I found myself dealing with some anxiety about having to use a needle each day to deliver the hydration to my dear feline.

Moving through this experience reminded me of the importance of grounded, steady presence and of being mindfully connected to this present moment. I decided to take on the daily process as a spiritual practice, bringing awareness, calm, and love to something that would allow my furry family member to survive. Along with focusing in my heart and connecting with my love of this sweet being, I have asked myself to track my internal state so that I am calm and centered during the infusions. Even as I give the infusions, I track my body and go back into calm if I find myself tensing or becoming anxious. Gently breathing in through my nose and out through my mouth helps to return to a more settled state and I sense how that state in me helps my furry friend to relax a bit more.

And so, for this week’s practice in conscious living, I invite you to notice whatever challenge may come into your life that requires you to dig a little deeper, perhaps into your capacities, your emotions, your ability to stay grounded in the presence of something that might be upsetting, etc. Then, notice what you experience when you choose to take on the challenge as a spiritual or psychological practice where you can develop some new or deepened skill or response that helps you move through the experience. 

You may orient to grounding exercises you’ve learned, or you may generate some self-talk that focuses and/or calms you. (Remember—all self-talk is self-hypnosis, so supportive self-talk can be really helpful.) You might breathe in and out through your heart, orienting your awareness to a sense of love or compassion for yourself and/or for the challenging situation. You might call a friend to get some support for your chosen practice. This can be a creative process where you discover what works best as you engage your chosen practice.

While we can’t control what comes our way, my recent experience has underscored for me the power of our ability to choose how we meet what arises. It doesn’t mean I don’t have moments of crying or feeling concern about the future. These are aspects of my wholeness and I don’t want to ignore or override them. That said, when those moments arise and move through, I return to my chosen practice of being present, aware, and as calm as I’m able to be.

As you explore this week’s practice, be sure to remember to bring along curiosity as your constant companion and to be very gentle with any judgments that may arise. Allow these to move on through without your having to do anything with them, as your goal in this practice is to come back to centered presence, or whatever quality you’ve chosen as your focus. Also, be sure to make room for mixed feelings, as they are an inevitable aspect of your underlying wholeness. Allow these to arise and move through, as well, giving them whatever acknowledgement they require or deserve and then returning to your chosen focus of attention.

Here’s the audio version of this practice if you’d rather listen to it. Also, please remember never to listen to guided audio meditations while driving or using dangerous machinery.

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