We have heard the saying many times before, "when it rains, it pours" to describe the trickling of negative experiences seemingly popping up in all facets of life. It often starts with one small drop of bad luck or unhappy emotion and before you know it, everything is crumbling around you and it feels impossible to keep it all together. True, we don't have control over how everything plays out in life, and this means we must face some pretty negative events however, we DO have control over what happens next.
When something happens in our life that isn't expected or welcome, we tend to hold it negatively in our minds. When the mind is pre-occupied in a negative state, it projects a veil of negativity onto much of what we do, how we think, act and interact with ourselves and others. We end up breeding negativity, bringing in the dark gloomy skies and before we know it, we have one hell of a rainstorm.
When something negative sparks unpleasant feelings, its natural to try to rationalize and think your way out of those feelings... "Why is this happening to me? Why do I feel this way? What's making me feel unhappy? How do I make it stop?" Our mind is so connected to memory that our current state of mind begins to spark memories of experiences that echo our current emotional state. If we haven't dealt with those emotions in a healthy way in the past, we start to sink back into past doubts and fears. All of a sudden, one small moment of sadness or one bad experience sends your toppling down and into quicksand and we begin struggling against it.
I love the metaphor of quicksand, and I have heard it used many times in this way because it gives a perfect image... When in quicksand and you start panicking, flapping your arms in frustration and fighting your way out, you only get bogged down deeper and deeper. Just like when faced with an emotion that you would rather suppress and "deal with later", its a struggle against your current state, only making you feel heavier and more burdened. Instead of struggling through the quicksand, it may be more productive to FEEL YOUR WAY THROUGH... to not react to the state of mind or the current situation that leaves you with a cloud over your head but instead be a witness to it.
In the yoga sutras, "the witness" is brought up countless times. It is the passive observer of the mind, not the one that gets overwhelmed by rationalizing, predicting, projecting and getting inevitably getting caught struggling in the quicksand. The witness connects us to our highest truth, our innate wisdom, like taking off fogged up glasses in the rain, we can begin to see clearly again. In order to connect with the witness instead of the reactor, we must find our way into the present moment.
The breath is a tangible tool to use since it goes with us everywhere we do. When in that moment where damaging thoughts start to sprout within the mind, when we feel the struggle bubble up within us... breathe. Notice the inhale, notice the exhale, our life force. In that moment of connection to the present, you are sparking the witness to engage. In this moment, you can recognize memories and damaging thoughts AS THEY ARISE. Like taking cover from a spontaneous rainstorm indoors, find your cozy seat, sit and stay a while. What you'll find is that the rain will let up, the thoughts will evaporate, and what your left with is expansive blue skies and a profound sense of happiness and peace fills the void.