When your life is in turmoil, one can easily feel that things are spinning out of control.  Our day in and day out “routines” can lull us into a false sense of security, and then all of the sudden something happens that completely changes the story.  We may wish for a quick resolution, but often that isn’t an option.  Nor is it an option to completely fall apart, because our survival requires us to stay attentive to what is going on.  So what can we do?

Quite often these moments actually require us to do something that is completely foreign to our instinct to fight or flee.  The antidote is to surrender, to insert a pause.  To practice the art of accepting the present moment for what it is and trusting yourself to be able to manage what will be.  Trying to control the turmoil won’t help and it isn’t likely possible, but stepping back, surrendering to what is gives us the opportunity to step out of the chaotic mind and into a more peaceful moment to evaluate our options.  I like to think of this as the sphere of influence, the tangible opportunities for us to examine our options at any one moment.  Even if it is to simply, and profoundly, be with our breath.

Getting into the mindset of surrender takes time and practice, especially for our striving culture that encourages us to “take our destiny” into our own hands through action, action, action.  Some general tips include, examining our fears if we let go/surrender, figuring out if we are in our own “business”  (ie where we have influence) or in that of another, contemplating if letting go would allow us to feel more free (ie less responsible for the outcome).

Meditation is an amazing tool for the creating space to surrender, yet this may seem intimidating.  Since turmoil creates a lot of internal tension, you might begin by trying to externalize that onto paper.  Grab a piece of paper, some art supplies that appeal to you and that are easy to use (like craypas, charcoal, or colored pencils).  Begin by tapping into the tension and select the color that best represents it.  Find a way to abstractly show that on the paper, following your instinct about the next steps to take.  This art does not need to be beautiful, realistic, etc, it simply needs to try to reflect how you feel inside.  As you draw, the internal tension will likely ease and given sufficient time it will feel meditative or prepare you for meditating.

– Stephanie McLeod-Estevez, LCPC, is an art therapist and breast cancer survivor. She began Creative Transformations to help others who are healing from a life threatening illness or injury. Creative Transformations offers an individual program, in person or via Skype, teaching art and meditation, workshops and this weekly blog. Please visit our website to learn more: www.creative-transformations.com.