This blog post was written by Shanleigh Bechard, MS, LPC, NCC, a mental health therapist at the Beloit Area Community Health Center and is currently accepting new clients.
Our emotions are like the waves
Swimming in the ocean has a way of making us feel small. The massive waves crashing in can feel overwhelming, as we are no match for the water’s great strength.
Standing in the ocean, if we resist the waves, we will get knocked down.
But if we take a deep breath and dive into the waves, we will come out the other side. Diving in is like a dance. To learn this dance, we must curiously observe the patterns of the ocean, listening to the rhythm of the waves, and trusting ourselves to come out the other side. We cannot control the ocean, but we can control our relationship to it. We can learn to dance with the waves.
Our emotions are like the waves.
We often resist our emotions, pushing them down, avoiding, running, denying, and fighting, perhaps fearful of their power. But just as we cannot swim away from the ocean, we cannot swim away from our emotions. Standing in the ocean of our emotions, if we resist the waves, we will get knocked down.
What would it be like instead to take a deep breath and jump in? No longer resisting, judging, or hiding from our emotions, but allowing them to wash over us. With a curious mind and an open heart, what would it be like to explore the depths, surrendering to our emotions, and trusting ourselves to be ok.
Only when we do this can we come out the other side. We cannot control our emotions, but we can control our relationship to them. We can learn to dance with the waves.
Emotions can be intense and overwhelming, just like the waves. They can be scary, and this is one reason why we resist. We are tempted to wait until we no longer feel fear to dive in. But the waves do not wait for the fear to dissolve; they are coming whether we are ready or not.
And it’s ok to feel fear. The challenge is to dive into the waves with the fear, rather than allowing this fear to paralyze us. Swim with the fear, take it along for the ride. To come out the other side, we must surrender to this fear, trusting ourselves to swim.
A meditation to help you cope
The following meditation was adapted from Gabrielle Bernstein’s book titled “Judgment Detox: Release the Beliefs that Hold you Back from Living a Better Life.”
The Meditation for Riding the Waves of Emotion
Sit comfortably cross-legged on the floor or upright in a chair.
Roll your shoulders back and gently close your eyes.
Take a deep breath in.
As you inhale, honor all the feelings that are coming up for you.
On the exhale, release the feeling.
Take another deep breath in.
On the inhale, honor all the feelings that are coming up for you.
On the exhale, release.
And honor all the feelings that are coming up for you.
On the exhale, release.
Continue this cycle of breath throughout your meditation.
Begin to visualize yourself in a crystal blue ocean.
The water is warm and soothing.
No one else is around.
As you look out into the ocean, you see a series of waves rolling toward you.
These waves represent your emotions.
You have the power to dive into the waves of your emotions now.
You don’t have to run from them or be knocked down.
Simply dive into the first wave now.
As each wave builds height about you, take a deep breath in and feel your emotions.
On the exhale, dive into the wave.
Breathe into each wave of emotion and dive in fully.
On the exhale, come out the other side.
Breathe in and dive.
Breathe out and come through to the other side.
You begin to dance with the emotional ocean of waves that continue rolling toward you.
As each new wave approaches, it’s smaller than the last.
Each wave you dive into becomes easier and easier.
With each breath you feel more relief.
In time the waves begin to slow down and get smaller.
With each breathe it becomes easier to dive in.
The interval between waves begins to lengthen.
In that time, you take long, slow breaths.
You begin to relax into your body.
Soon the ocean becomes still.
You can relax and breathe.
Breathe long and deep and relax into the calm ocean.
You feel a gentle breeze on your face as you lie back and float on the water.
Floating in a sea of serenity.
You are calm. You are at peace.
Take one last deep breath in.
When you are ready, open your eyes to the room.