I love going for walks in my neighborhood. After being on the phone in my little office for most of the day, I can’t wait to get out and move. As soon as feasible, I grab the double stroller and two chatty kids and hit the sidewalk.
I’ve walked in light rain and I’ve walked in falling snow, but I’ve never walked in a major thunderstorm storm or torrential downpour…at least not intentionally. I’ll do some yoga in the basement before I head out in that kind of crazy weather.
As I sat at the window yesterday considering whether the misty rain was a walkable sprinkle or a yoga-in-the-basement-kind-of-day, I started thinking about how considering the weather for my walks is just like considering our own state of mind.
Sometimes it’s a torrential downpour…internally. Your mind is spinning in circles, very full, very fast. And you’re in there with it, strapped into the roller coaster seat, forgetting that you’re on a ride that will soon end.
You’re so much “in the storm” that you can’t see anything but the storm.
You’ll know you’re in the storm by how you feel. If the head-about-to-burst feeling and the constant barrage of thoughts isn’t enough tip off, notice your emotions and physical sensations. You’re tense or stressed or otherwise very emotional. Light, peaceful, and carefree are the last words you’d use to describe your experience.
That’s what it’s like to be in an internal torrential downpour. Just as I’m not about to voluntarily venture out in nature’s torrential downpours, you also want to lay low when you’re experiencing an internal downpour.
You are blinded by the thunder- or thought-storm, flooded with low feelings. It’s the last time you want to be out in the world drawing conclusions, making decisions, trusting your judgment, giving your opinions.
Stay in. Take cover. Do some yoga in the basement if you’re into that sort of thing.
Wait for the storm to pass.
It seems so obvious when you read it here, doesn’t it? But I can tell you…and I’m sure you already know…it’s not always obvious in the moment.
When I look outside and see lightening striking and garbage cans blowing across the street, it’s a no-brainer to stay inside. But when we feel the inner torrential downpour, oddly enough, it’s often our inclination to go out and do more.
We feel bad and we want to feel better, and we’ve been passed along a huge misunderstanding about feeling better: that it’s our job. That we need to manage our feelings. That in order to feel better, we better do something.
In truth, it’s the complete opposite. Weather is part of nature. You are part of nature. And nature is pretty wise.
Storms pass. We have no role in that. External and internal storms pass on their own.
The more we get out of the way and let nature do what it does, the better for us all.