What Do You Do When You Are Feeling Flat?
We all go through feelings of blah from time to time and sometimes it can seem as if there is no rhyme or reason. I don’t know if that’s entirely true, but it may be that it’s just difficult to identify a specific cause. For lots of us, there are so many thoughts and feelings flying through our minds at any one time, it could be challenging to work out whether any of those flash thoughts or memories invoked an emotional response that became embedded on our sub-conscious. For one example, just after relaxation in class a few years ago, someone told me that she had a lump in her throat but she couldn’t remember the thought that had come up. With regular relaxation/yoga/meditation practise, the mind quietens and in time we might get some insight into what thoughts trigger particular reactions that then invoke certain responses. Sometimes this can be the first step towards experiencing a shift in these reactionary, energy cysts (samskaras in yoga and Buddhist philosophy) that were initiated possibly due to some past trauma. Trauma doesn’t necessarily have to be what we might consider serious either; when we are young, anxiety and stress may be caused by things that seem irrelevant and silly as adults, but if those feelings are not acknowledged or dealt with in a kindly, thoughtful manner, it’s more likely we will continue to experience a sense of unease at times for seemingly no particular reason as grown-ups.
Feeling flat might also happen because we have a mild virus or infection, we might not be sleeping very well or perhaps going to bed too late without making time to unwind. It’s also possible that we could be going through hormonal or life changes, working crazy hours in a stressful job or simply doing too much stuff generally that creates a state of sympathetic nervous system dominance.
One thing that’s important though, is just trying to ride the wave and go with it, even when you don’t really feel like it. It’s also why creating a bit of a healthy lifestyle routine (dincharya) that you do your best to stick with, can make such a difference to your sense of wellbeing over the longterm. A dincharya serves as an anchor during those times that we don’t really feel clear, steady or calm. The other thing that really helps me is totally faking it! I remember during a teacher training session my teacher asking us all if we were ready to show up, no matter what. Now I understand that there is more to this than simply being reliable and dependable. I don’t always feel like facing my class or even getting up in the morning, Sometimes, like many people, I would like to like stick my head under the covers and stay there for a few days! But would that make me feel better? Maybe, but probably not in the long term. As a (school) teacher friend said to me once, “Nobody told me that teaching was all about putting on a show!” Yep, it can sometimes be a bit like acting, and the show must go on. This ideal works for me – I don’t want to bring my class down, my occasional dull mood is not their problem. And, it totally works. If you are friendly and welcoming, people relax and they smile. Somebody you know might make a joke. You laugh; there’s camaraderie and you feel better already. So it is true, that no matter what is going on, committing to turning up always things around. How many times have you really not felt like going out somewhere but believed you had no option but to turn up? How many times have you actually felt energised and much better for making the effort even though Netflix and an early night at home was calling? Come to think of it, how many times have you talked yourself out of yoga or some other useful self-development or physical activity for the same reason even though deep down you knew that that one hour or so was going to turn things around monumentally and you would never end up regretting it?
In so in many ways, all those years ago, those words stuck in my head. They fully resonated and it has made me realise that I can dwell on how I am feeling or be aware of it but yet take positive action towards shifting things. That’s karma yoga. It’s good for me and everyone else in my world.