Here is what works for me when I am overwhelmed, feel powerless, lost, frustrated or angry

These are my continuing thoughts on what yoga practices can help parents of kids with autism. See Part 1.

I use calming practices (see below) and let go of the whatever pain I felt in the past and whatever fears I have about the future.

I say to myself, “Nothing is actually hurting me right now at this present moment.” “I repeat that over and over each moment until the wave of pain diminishes.

I remind myself to be grateful for what I have. “I have a family that loves me, I have a roof over my head. The phone and lights are still on. There is food in the cupboards.”

I adopt a Buddhist attitude: “Everything changes. While it seems terrible now, things will get better. ‘This too shall pass.’ There is light at the end of the tunnel.”

What of the calming practices? I have posted previously here about C.R.O.P.S. I learned from a Siddha Yoga swami and B.R.F.W.A. from Kripalu.

I also like Thich Nat Hanh’s breathing meditation: “I inhale, calming body and mind. I exhale, I smile. I inhale, being in the present moment. I exhale, I know this is a beautiful moment.” It is hard to remain upset when you force yourself to smile. Brain researcher Paul Ekman has shown that our brains read our facial expressions for emotional cues.

Another simple meditation I learned from Pat Rodegast who channels the entity Emmanuel. Emmanuel’s breath meditation is “(Inhale) I chose love (or God, or universal consciousness, peace, etc.). (Exhale) I let go of fear (or anger, the past, history, etc.). I tend to stick with love/fear, but sometimes use variations in different situations.

Patanjali’s yoga sutras I.32-40 discuss all the ways that one may calm the mind of distractions in order to attain single-pointedness. Most of the sutras enumerate different breathing and meditation methods. The last sutra says, in short, “or do whatever works.” I have mentioned sutra I.33 before.  Here is another translation I like:

1.33 In relationships, the mind becomes purified by cultivating feelings of friendliness towards those who are happy, compassion for those who are suffering, goodwill towards those who are virtuous, and indifference or neutrality towards those we perceive as wicked or evil.
(maitri karuna mudita upekshanam sukha duhka punya apunya vishayanam bhavanatah chitta prasadanam)

I also, in all seriousness, suggest that people in great pain should try Laughter Yoga.

This would be balanced nicely with the pain management techniques of Shinzen Young which also apply to emotional pain. He has techniques that help to isolate the physical or emotional pain as separate from suffering. Reduce the suffering and the pain becomes tolerable.

This is a lot to digest. I plan to revisit these techniques over the coming weeks to elaborate on how they work for me and why I draw on so many modalities.