I wish I had a new set of useful coping techniques to share with you from my experiences these past few months, but alas, I did what I always do: I took my thoughts and feelings and buried them deep inside my chest where they ached as they knocked around. I stiffened as the roar grew louder, gripping my hands into tight fists, waiting for it to be over.
And now? I’m in the middle of a stress hangover, my body trying to catch up with my mind. “We’ve cleared at least one hurdle of this terribly confusing year,” my mind says. “It’s OK to exhale. Let’s exhale.”
In the past, this is when I’d normally get a migraine: in the time after the stress. But not today. It’s been a quiet day in the Arthur/Skrzypek household. I took the dog for a long windy coastal walk. I snuggled my daughter and watched the 80s episode of Great British Bake-off. And I checked in with the achey chest feelings and felt them start to dissipate.
If you’ve done any meditation practices in the past, you may have heard of the loving-kindness meditation. You spend time thinking first of the people who are closest to you with love, then acquaintances, then strangers, then people who challenge you, and then you keep widening the love you feel until it encircles everyone in the world. There are many days when a practice like this is a challenge, so sometimes I try a different angle on it. I try to do the collective exhale. I imagine that I am connecting with beautiful voyagers everywhere with relaxation and softness. I imagine that we are all letting go in a period after the struggle together.
As you read this, would you do me a favor? Would you take a breath in, expanding your belly, then slowly breath out, sending me a little piece of peace? I will do the same for you right now.
Let’s help each other chill in the time after the roar,