Acceptance - The Art of Navigating Through the Darkness

Acceptance - The Art of Navigating Through the Darkness

Discover practical strategies to navigate overwhelming emotions and find balance in a world filled with chaos and uncertainty through the lens of yoga, meditation, and self-acceptance - By Wendy Buttery

Reading time: 4 minutes

It can't be ignored, we are living through turbulent times. Perhaps we always have been, but at the moment when we look outward at the world we know, its a messy, troubled and often dark place. What we perceive outwardly is of course mirrored to how we feel inwardly. And vice versa.  The saying goes, we will only see what we want to see. Yet when we are bombarded through the lens of media, images of war, hunger, cruelty, pollution, a failing planet, a failing and flailing human race, it's wow, a lot to take on.

It is certainly a lot for our nervous system to cope with and navigate through. So, it's no wonder we hear of people, humans just like you and me, struggling to handle all the information being sent about our fellow beings on our shared planet and what they have to deal with and that we too can feel helpless and overwhelmed.

Like most people, I am just a simple being also affected so much by what is happening globally, locally and even universally. I am not a student of astrology but reading articles on what planets are going backwards and forwards, when the moon and sun is eclipsed and what stars are working for us or against us has been pretty illuminating and also explains much of whatever I have been witnessing in myself on a personal level.

I realise, when I dive into these posts on social media or read various articles, I am looking for answers on how to deal the the maelstrom of emotions that present themselves to me on a daily basis. I have become a much more sensitive person over the last few years and I am torn between wanting and needing to understand what is going on in the world and realising that seeing news items about just that, spirals me downwards to a dull and dark state. I don't want to be ill-informed and ignore the news, but I also understand that I can only handle so much.

So I will usually only look at headlines and wait for someone to tell me, rather than dive into the rabbit hole of journalistic opinion and bias. Living on the small island of Ibiza which seems a long way away from the real world certainly shields me from wave after wave of negative news and being around mostly light people also helps.

What I have noticed though, is the whitewashing that can go on within the 'spiritual' and the yoga community. There is almost an unwritten rule that one must always be a positive, light and happy person and certainly if you teach yoga, meditation or an other modality that brings us closer to our truth, one must never be dark and real and gritty. Because this is what we are supposed to be leading people away from right? With this understanding, I ask myself:

Is that realistic?
Is that true?
Am I just pretending to live in a perpetual never-land?
Am I always supposed to smile even when I want to cry?

I think we know that yoga teachers are no less human than anyone else so its ridiculous to assume that we spend our days picking flowers, hugging trees and levitating on meditation cushions up towards universal energy. Sound nice though I have to admit.

But what we can do, and encourage others to do. is to dive into the tools we have been given. Yoga is the toolbox right? When we feel overwhelmed with life and unsure of which direction to go in- go in. When we feel anxious, fearful and shaky- yoga, meditation and pranayama are the tools.

Yoga asana - use your asana practice to ground yourself back to the earth. Feel your feet on the ground and allow the earth to support and hold you as you move through postures designed to strengthen and release. Understand what your body needs on that day. Maybe its a fiery flowing practice to free up stuck energy.

Maybe you need a slow restorative practice to open up the heart and hips and calm down the nervous system. Don't feel guilty, if all you want to do is lie on the floor with your legs up the wall (viparita karani - the best pose in the world) or open up your shoulders by lying over a bolster in a dark room. If that's what your body is saying, do it.

Meditation* - before you tap into anything on your phone when you wake up, and hopefully before you go to sleep, sit in silence for a few minutes. Sometimes only 10 minutes of observing the breath, or just noticing the thoughts without getting involved in them, is enough for your mind to recalibrate. If you can do more, great, but if you really can't then accept that you are doing your best.

Pranayama - practicing a simple ujjayi breath with a brief hold also takes us to our parasympathetic nervous system.  Try alternate nostril breathing in stressful situations or go into some of the heated breaths like kapala bharti to clear stale lung energy. Remember you can practice breathwork anywhere.

On the way to work or a meeting, driving a car or sitting on public transport. Or like me, when I worked in an office environment, wondering what the hell I was doing there, practicing long slow breaths with a hold in the stationary cupboard so I could carry on with my day. Don't knock it, it works I promise.

Through all of this, accept, accept, accept. Understand that you may not always feel great. Some days you will, because on the other side of darkness is the light. But accept that sometimes you won't feel good, because, hello. you are human. The first way out of this feeling is acceptance for what is. And then take the next step. Use the tools.

What do you need today? It could be 5 minutes or 2 hours of practice of something. But please do it. It absolutely WILL help. Even if it's just 5 minutes of conscious breathing, don't beat yourself up for feeling bad, or lazy or not wanting to do much. But also don't wallow in it for too long. You might feel like you are laying in the gutter, but remember if you look up you will see the stars.

*commission earned from this link.

Wendy Buttery

Wendy runs a yoga retreat on Ibiza offering a place for guests to reset their lives with yoga and peace.