What the Tide Pools Taught me About Coping With Chaos

Are you feeling drained by the continuing uncertainty, conflicting “guidance” and disruption generated by this latest Covid surge? 

Last week, seeking some respite from the anxiety,   I visited a nearby marine sanctuary which taught me some lessons on handling these turbulent times.  

When I arrived at the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve, my first thought was how the crashing waves and strong cross-currents resembled our world right now – confused, constantly changing, and chaotic. 

As I contemplated the sea, I noticed that the tide was receding, exposing reefs and tide pools teeming with starfish, sea urchins, anemones, and hermit crabs.  Harbor seals lounged on the rocks while dozens of shorebirds fished in the tide pools. 

I realized that what – at first glance – looked like a churning sea was actually a marvelous tide pool habitat supporting a wide variety of sea creatures.  The continuous erosion of the bedrock by the powerful waves created and continues to sustain the reef that supports this rich diversity of marine life.   

That’s the first teaching I took away from the tide pools –   crashing, disruptive, dynamic activity is sometimes necessary for creation. 

However, before we can recognize the creative potential in chaos we have to restore our trust. 

TRUST THAT THERE’S ORDER IN THE CHAOS 

My beach visit made me aware of the predictable ebb and flow of the tides which continue no matter what’s happening in our world.  It’s a beautiful reminder that no matter how chaotic life becomes, there is a benevolent force – God – Higher Power – Universe – that’s holding our lives and the world together.

 When we trust in this benevolent force, we stop being so fearful and open ourselves to the lessons to be learned and even the good that might be hidden in the turbulence.

RESTORE YOUR TRUST IN YOURSELF

According to Susan Jeffers, author of  Feel the Fear & Do it Anyway,  our core fear is that we won’t be able to handle whatever life throws at us. If we trusted ourselves and believed that we could handle future challenges, we’d have very little to fear. 

 An effective way to restore your self-trust is through centering which means giving yourself an inner sanctuary to return to when life disrupts you. That sanctuary is the center of your mind, heart, and body where everything is balanced.

 Whenever you start feeling anxious, use this simple exercise to center yourself: 

Breathe in through the nose for a count of 10, hold for 10 seconds, and then breathe out for 10 seconds. Imagine a white light at your heart center. Feel its positive energy empowering, supporting, and grounding you and then flowing out to the whole world.  Repeat the words “Whatever happens to me, given any situation, I can handle it.”

For additional valuable centering and grounding practices, read the excellent article “Are You Grounded, Centered or Both?” https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-empowerment-diary/201705/are-you-grounded-centered-or-both

SPEND TIME IN NATURE 

My visit to the tide pools shifted my perspective and renewed my self-trust. Numerous studies have shown that time spent in nature can lower stress, reduce anxiety and enhance immunity. 

Whether it’s planting in your garden, a mindful walk around the block, or a hike in a local park, immersing yourself in nature’s rhythms will soothe and heal you. Even spending as little as twenty minutes a day outdoors can elevate your energy and outlook.

Put away your smartphone and step into nature. Breathe it in. Listen to nature’s sounds. Take the time to look closely at what’s happening in a garden a grove of trees, or on a beach.  You may be amazed at what you’ll learn.  “There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature-the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.”– Rachel Carson

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