Finding Acceptance in Times of Intense Change
“Finding Acceptance is a pillar of OUTLAW Yoga, but what does it really mean and what does it look like…especially in times of intense change?”
This thoughtful question was posed to me by the other day by senior Outlaw Yoga teacher Chris Lowe in a Zoom meeting.
I replied with a simple, “I wonder” – which is a wonderful way to push off having to supply an answer…
Well, first of all – I thought to myself while taking Megan’s live-stream class in the Outlaw Yoga Littleton Facebook Group – one is not often ready to truly accept, or even directly face, the change and trauma of the moment…in that moment.
A ground breaking study post 9/11 demonstrated this fact dramatically.
By dropping dozens of trauma counselors into New York City post 9/11 it was concluded that people just weren’t ready to talk – they needed time to sort of store the trauma before they were ready to try and process it.
Change management is incredibly difficult in general, and trauma mitigation in the moment nearly impossible.
Right when the breakup happens is not when you’re ready to process it…it’s only after a few weeks of drunkenness, followed by a few months of unfortunate romantic decisions, that one gets close to actually being ready to deal with the stored up residual feelings of sadness, shame, guilt, blame etc.
To heal our pain we have to feel our pain.
But when the pain happens it is often too painful in that particular moment. So painful in fact that if we tried to sit down and deal with it, it would simply overload our fragile systems.
Instead we box it up, and put it high on a psychological shelf to stumble on it and deal with it another day.
Just don’t let too many days pass – otherwise you run the risk of convincing yourself that you’ve forgotten about it altogether…and, if you’ve been in more than one romantic relationship for example, then you know well the truth of the old adage, “those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it.”
What we’ve been going through with our home-stay orders in response to the COVID-19 pandemic amounts to a minimal or maximal trauma of being forcibly removed from loved ones and human interaction, a real or perceived threat to our healthy immune system, and perhaps the loss of someone – or the fear associated with that potential loss – of someone close to us.
While those traumas may seem insignificant relative to other traumas you have experienced or imagined, they are real nonetheless.
In fact, forcible abstinence from touch has been shown to be devastating to living organisms in several shockingly inhumane laboratory studies.
“When this is ‘over’ its not like we’ll flip a switch and life will just return to normal…” Chris very wisely mentioned before our Zoom call was over.
And he’s absolutely right.
Just in case waiting around for the right time to process isn’t your next preferred step, I’ve assembled a few tools below…
Even if you’re not really ready to be ultimately accepting per say, it can be helpful and even a necessary first step to realign the workings of the brain out of a state of trauma and back into a state of receptivity and creativity.
You’ve heard the saying you can’t be grateful and hateful at the same time. That’s because the two states employ two very different aspects of the physical brain.
The same way you can’t hold a beer and a bowling ball with the same hand, so too can you not use the two distinct areas of the brain at the same time.
When you’re in trauma – real or perceived, minor or major – your brain is activated in a very distinct way, one that inhibits its activation in other more creative, thoughtful, grateful ways.
I gave an assignment to the internet Outlaw community the other day – that assignment was to do a doodle or to write a little verse, something silly…anything creative that you can just throw away after.
This assignment, in the face of the ongoing trauma of social isolation from the crisis, was meant to force people to force the brain out of the trauma activation state and invite it back into a creative capacity.
With that in mind, here are some simple steps you can take to try and activate that more creative, open, and grateful mental state – a necessary step on the road to finding acceptance:
– Turn your devices O-F-F – designate a window of time a day to unplug…you’ll be surprised at how much other stuff you get done when you’re not on your phone.
– Act as if you chose this – even if this seems impossible to do, act as if your higher self chose this exact scenario in order to serve you, then consider how is the situation meant to serve you? Journal on the topic.
– Do a doodle. Write a poem. Paint something. Play an instrument – even poorly. It doesn’t matter if it’s any good – throw it away when you’re done. Engaging this little art therapy as the doorway in between the traumatic room you’re in, and the more flourishing, accepting room on the other side. Force it open and see what’s waiting there for you.
– Act as if this is over…and you missed out on an opportunity – populate the sentence, “During the COVID crisis when I had all that extra time on my hands I sure wish I would’ve ______________.” Then do whatever went in the sentence right now.
Good luck, Outlaws! Remember, when all else fails, reminding yourself that it could be worse could be the tool you need to get through this singularly difficult moment!
Justin “Jud” Kaliszewski is the best-selling yoga teacher and renowned creator of Outlaw Yoga. Author. Artist. Adventurer. Though his studio is currently closed per state order, you can still take his class NOW at www.outlawyogaclub.com and www.youtube.com/outlawyoga. Find his writing and art at www.justinkaliszewski.com and his presence all over the internet – for an outlaw, he’s shockingly easy to get ahold of.