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

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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