“I’ve done everything possible”
“I’ve done my best”
“It’s still happening”
“I can’t bear anymore”
Do these thoughts sound familiar?
Are you in a situation where you feel paralysed with frustration, a turbulent situation with your troubled teenager (T.T) which seems to be beyond your control? (This can apply equally to any other 24/7 close relationship e.g. partner or dependent relative)
Here’s my advice: go and sit down!
“WHAT?” I hear you say “How will that help?”
Consider these possibilities:
1.There really is no more that can be done. In this case you probably feel charged up but powerless and need to remove all the negative thoughts and feelings from your mind before you damage yourself or others due to stress, anxiety, ill-health, anger or verbal / physical abuse.
2.There may be a solution you have not yet realised due to the myriad of anxious, worried or angry thoughts spinning around in your mind. Therefore spending a short time eliminating all this clatter from your mind gives you a calm stable platform from which to develop helpful strategies to solve the problem if possible.
Therefore in both these situations you need to sit down in a quiet comfortable space and dissolve away all those unhelpful negative thoughts and feelings.
This is very simple to do:
a) Relax your body part by part from head to toes, e.g. check your forehead, jaw, neck and shoulders. Are they relaxed? If not imagine the tension draining away from them so they become relaxed, light and comfortable. Continue to work your way down through your body. Spend as little or as much time on this as you wish, ending with your body feeling comfortable and light as a feather.
b) Let go of all thoughts of your daily life, forget the past and the future and be aware only of the present moment for the time being.
c) Turn your awareness to your breathing, without changing it in any way. Just observe how it ebbs and flows in and out of your body. Focus only on this without following any thoughts that come into your mind, thoughts will appear, but you can let them drift away like wispy clouds in the sky. Let them go and gently bring your attention back to your breath. It doesn’t matter how many times you have to do this.
As your mind starts to settle you can sharpen your focus a little more on your breath by noticing where it enters and leaves at the tip of your nostrils, noticing how the inhalation feels cooler than the exhalation.
You maintain this focus for as long as you wish, but a minimum of 10 minutes is advised to maximise the benefit. When you are ready, gradually relax your concentration and notice how your body now feels a little more relaxed and your mind feels clearer and more spacious.
Now you are more able to think objectively about the situation, possibly find a solution, or if there is no possible solution, you may be more able to accept it patiently. (There is an article here about patient acceptance)
This simple procedure is called breathing meditation.
3.If the situation with your TT (or other) cannot be changed at present, but must be endured, you need to find a positive way to relate to that person which is beneficial to all, to prevent you building anger, resentment or becoming numb. This often happens when intellectually we know we must still love them but we cannot feel it inside and can find no way to shift ourselves out of the vacuum.
Briefly speaking, we need to understand that no matter how much pain our TT is causing us, they too are suffering beneath their angry facade. If they were happy they wouldn’t be putting us through this in the first place.
It’s so easy to overlook this obvious point when we are trying to deal with the fallout from their discomfort which is being directed, possibly explosively, towards us.
The method below has been tried and tested and in my own experience can sometimes be the only helpful thing available for us in some situations.
a) Spend a few minutes doing the simple breathing exercise described above to settle your mind.
b) With this calm mind, consider how they must be suffering themselves. This has to be personal to your situation, abstract wont work, you have to find a way in, to understand how they are feeling pain and discomfort themselves.
Remembering our love for them, develop a wish for them to be free of their suffering.
Imagine that all their pain takes the form of black smoke, which we remove from them by breathing it in every time we inhale, so it dissolves away.
Continue for a few minutes and strongly imagine that you have removed their pain.
This meditation is called ‘Taking’.
c) Focusing on our love and wishing for them to be happy, we imagine that every time we exhale, we breathe out bright rays of light, which are the essence of positive energy sending them happiness.
Imagine these rays surround and dissolve into them, causing them to become calm and happy. Focus on this belief. This meditation is called ‘giving’.
Remain on each stage for as long as you wish but at least a couple of minutes for each stage then gently relax your concentration and leave your meditation.
Taking and Giving
Once you become familiar with this you can alternate both sections in conjunction with your breath, imagining you are breathing in their pain with every inhalation and sending them happiness with every exhalation. This is called ‘meditation on taking and giving’ and is supremely beneficial in difficult situations. It doesn’t matter if you don’t understand how it can work, you and your relationships will feel the benefit.
Never again will you feel paralysed in difficult situations. Through this experience you will become familiar with your own inner wisdom or ‘Inner Guru’ and will eventually find that even in severe circumstances sitting on your meditation seat and dissolving your mind into this ‘Inner Guru’ will provide comfort and benefit.
For more information on meditation see this book or these articles:
Please feel free to share your experiences in the comments section. 🙂