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When Things Get Bad

In the pieces I write for TTW, I speak with a voice that implies a certain mastery of my subject. I suppose I’ve earned it. I bring a seriousness and intensity in my approach to these practices, and I also bring the training in close perception I’ve developed from all my years as a writer. That Jerry, who is certainly a master at the energy techniques we talk about, has given me his imprimatur to teach is quite a gift. I do not take his confidence in me lightly.

Nevertheless, I’m still less than three years into the adventure that started when Jerry first taught me to center and thereby set me on this path. Yes, I’ve seen vast changes in my life. Compared to where I was when I started, my sensitivity to what’s around me and my ability to deal with those things have gone off the charts. But in the grand scheme of things, I’m still something of a novice at all this stuff. Three years of exploring the practice of centering is far less than the 40 years I didn’t. And that means that sometimes I get overwhelmed.

There’s some deep turmoil in my personal life right now. Some days I navigate this well. Some days I pretty much go insane–I find myself unable to find center, my thinking gets utterly clouded, and I feel terrible. Some teacher I am, eh?

Except that I’ve walked too far down this path to ever turn around now, or even to much lose sight it. The other day, I felt bad, lost and sad and angry. I was badly out of center. But that I was out of center was part of my understanding of how I was feeling. I recognized it.

As I was trying to find my way back out of that oppressive grey mood, I knew to be seeking center. This approach is already too ingrained for me to do anything else. I didn’t succeed, by the way. It took Jerry’s help and experience to re-center me, and I moved back out of center rather quickly. But today, in a much better place, I can see the benefit of that apparent failure. Through the vulnerability of that experience, I can speak to how do deal with this stuff.

So what do you do when things get really bad?

In part, you let them be bad. You don’t fight their being bad, but you try not to feed the badness, also. Your perception of stuff is bound to be faulty, so try not to do anything rash. Don’t be shitty to people around you–in this kind of state, when everyone seems like an asshole, chances are that the actual asshole is you.

If there’s someone you can call on, someone whom you recognize has the ability to help ground you, call on that person. Don’t suffer though this alone.

But above all, know that little bits of self-care can make a huge difference. Even if things do not immediately feel better, doing something positive for yourself sets positive energy into motion. So go work out if you can. Now, if I’m sufficiently in turmoil, I might find the prospect of even going to the gym to be too much. But unless you’re in Antarctica or the middle of a hurricane, it’s pretty much always possible to go out for a walk rather than wallow in the unhappiness of the present time and place. A walk is great because the natural world is going to support you with its energy.

When I asked Jerry what I should write about this week, he replied “Something light and fun to give you something else to focus on. The lighter the better.” This piece, perhaps unfortunately, isn’t that.

But there is something to knowing that I am perhaps, even in this space, able to help others, that takes a lot of the weight off. Yes, things are hard right now. They’ll get better; they always do. I feel safe in saying this because I am paying attention, and it is true.

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