This past week, when I returned from Omaha, I was given an opportunity to practice what I teach. I arrived home Monday evening and settled in at home. Tuesday morning I woke up bright and early, did my morning sitting in silence practice, and headed off to yoga. I got in my car, turned the key and nothing. The car did not start. My initial thought was to panic and my helpless one sat there and said internally, “Ok, great! Now what?” I paused, took a deep breath (or two or three) and then called Dan. He reminded me that we had roadside assistance through our motor club. I called for assistance. Someone came out and used jumper cables on the battery to start the car. I drove around the block to charge up the battery.
Here’s where the story gets amusing. I was afraid to stop the car in case it did not start again. As I drove I noticed my speedometer was registering a really fast speed leading me to believed the speedometer was broken. Luckily, as I drove around the block, I received a text canceling my morning appointment. I took that as a sign to drive directly to the car dealership and have the battery checked so that I could go to sleep that night without worrying that my car would not start the next morning. My initial trepidation was gone. I went from whatever triggered that helpless one to a fully empowered person taking care of the a difficult situation. I stayed in the moment. I did not feel stressed out or like something was happening to me. It was a great feeling. The battery was replaced and car is running like new again. But wait, what about that speedometer issue? When the battery was jump started the car’s computer defaulted to kph, so it was just my perception that the car was going faster. This is a great example of how perception is NOT reality; but that is another topic for a future newsletter.
As I reflected on these events, I realized that there was a point where this could have gone several ways. In the past there were times that an event like this would have ruined not only my day, but several days. What was the difference this time? I allowed myself to fully feel my helplessness; to ask who was the one feeling helpless and what did she need? Taking the time to be with your feelings, all of them, in the heat of the moment, is the difference that makes the difference. I did not formally sit in Samyama. I did however meet that helpless child in my heart. I gave her what she needed, love and attention; and then told her I would take over. That helpless child could relax and trust because I was available to take care of and resolve the difficult issue.
What do you do when you are triggered, either by a person or event? Do you pay attention to the one that is triggered? This is usually a part of yourself that is not integrated. It could show up as a younger self, an inner child that remembers a similar past event that now acts as a trigger.
Pay attention to this part of yourself whenever they show up and in whatever way they show up. This awareness can help when you are in a difficult situation. It can assist you
in transitioning from that younger self to the part of yourself that can resolve the current situation.
Some questions to ask when you are triggered:
- Does this feeling remind me of how I felt as a child?
- If so, what is the age of that child?
- Do I feel shame, anger, fear, or any other emotion that does not make sense given the current situation?
- What lesson does this person or situation have for me? (Often we are put in these situations to provide an opportunity to integrate or heal something from our childhood that has not been healed.)
You can write about any insights that arise from these questions. Each time you feel triggered ask one or more of these questions again.
In my next newsletter I will spend more time writing about inner child work and how you can learn to give your younger selves what they did not receive as a child. Be gentle with yourself as you begin to sit with these questions. Let me know what happens for you as you delve into these questions.
In Service to Love,