“When Gentle Winds Grow Strong” (3 ways to turn emotional reaction into productive action)

January 5, 2013
By

man in tree

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The gentle winds grow strong.

Tree fronds dance and sing.

The sky dims its light with a gray shroud.

As it cries tremendous drops that gently fall.

But only for a moment.

Or two.

Soon, the shroud is removed.

A bright, grand countenance is revealed.

Dampened, weepy flowers turn their faces upward.

And the day continues.  Again.

In the States, hardly a week goes past without someone telling me how calm and peaceful I am, wondering out-loud how I manage the stresses of my multiple responsibilities.

I am never told the same when I am here in Uganda.

As I pondered today’s events—both natural and supernatural—I scribbled out the lines above.

The wind and rains did indeed come—and go.  The same has happened for me emotionally as well.  Bright joy and hope followed by the darkness of frustration, disappointment, anger and grief.

And then brightness once again.

There is so much to feel here.  And I have always been very sensitive to things felt but not seen.

Even as a child, I recall sitting in rooms filled with adults, and feeling the textures of silence and the unspoken undertones of worry or skepticism as well as the supple-giddiness of love and the melody of hope.

Being somatically aware (having a gift of discernment) is at once a blessing and a curse, especially in a place like Uganda where there is a rawness of spirit that is abundant.  Often joyous.  Often oppressive.

The trick is to turn somatic awareness into productive action in place of emotional reaction.  A struggle.

Since I can be unsuccessful in the action-instead-of-reaction department, I am developing strategies to help me do better.  So far I have the following:

  1. Breathe.  I have tried to incorporate this into various life-strategies of recent.  The research simply could not be clearer about the power of measured breathing techniques to calm the intersection of the physical, mental and spiritual.
  2. Remember what I know.  After 12 years working in Uganda, and after all of my graduate work, there is so much more that I know intellectually than I did when I first felt these undertones and textures.  I need to remember to marry what I know with what I feel.
  3. Use it as fuel.  These somatic reminders can be tremendous motivators for the lifework I have chosen and the research I pursue.  As I always say, “Embrace what you can’t erase.”

Perhaps you, too, find yourself aware of issues deeper than those that are seen with the eyes.  Maybe you have learned to describe this awareness as “depression” or “anger.”  If so, I pray that my story will somehow speak directly to those places that get emotionally confused as we struggle with the notion that neither body nor mind nor spirit are separate, but rather that they are all one part of this process we call life.

And please remind yourself that the day continues, again.

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4 Responses to “When Gentle Winds Grow Strong” (3 ways to turn emotional reaction into productive action)

  1. Dena Nunez
    January 29, 2013 at 1:55 pm

    I cry causally in side everyday. For my granddaughter who confessed abuse from her mom for years. I cry cause I cant hate and wish the mothers demise, my heart cant hold it.I cry cause my desire to raise my children back to God is overwhelming. I cry cause now I God gave us guardianship of all 3 grandchildren. Lord who am I,what can I do. I must to right in the sight of the lord while I keep me head on straight.
    My reply to you is that you understand.

    • January 29, 2013 at 2:04 pm

      Christ says to “weep with those who weep.” And so with you, I weep. I hope my three points will also help. The breathing really and truly helps when you get to those place of feeling overwhelmed. Please do try it. Blessings. –N

      • Dena Nunez
        January 29, 2013 at 2:43 pm

        It is overwhelming sometimes when I feel peoples pain, hurt and grief; as well as their happiness, excitement and deliverance. These are feelings that I can actually feel with a person/persons. 9-11-01 still lingers for the grief the families still feel. So I pray and pray. But I wonder if I’m to emotional, taking on everyone burdens or even being a marduer for that matter.So am I emotional or spiritual.I know of breathing and that is exactly what I do, Ive learned how to and can teach deescalation skills. I took a class to help those with PTSD.

        • January 30, 2013 at 12:43 am

          Sometimes the help we need comes in the form of a good ole M.D. I hope you have found a good one? I encourage you to share these thoughts with her/him. And also remember that being somatically aware (if that’s what’s happening for you) can feel like a curse, but is actually a blessing. Seek insight from others. Bless you so much.

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Nathaniel is CEO of AidChild.org. He holds a Master's Degree in Human Development and Psychology from Harvard University where he was a Reynolds Fellow in Social Entrepreneurship, and winner of the 2010 Harvard HDP Marshal Award. He also holds a PhD in Leadership Studies from the University of San Diego where he was the Dammeyer Fellow in Global Education Leadership, and a Cordes Fellow at Opportunity Collaboration. Nathaniel is author of "We Are Not Mahogany: Three stories about the male African life." Prior to his move to Uganda in 2000, Nathaniel was Deputy Director of the Office of the Governor of Arizona, and Director of Education at Leadership, Inc.

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