In the face of a crisis—whether the loss of a job, the end of a relationship, a betrayal or a financial setback—the human mind has a tendency to react in conditioned, limited ways that usually only intensify our pain. We may ruminate on the past, getting stuck in feelings of resentment, regret or self-pity. Or we may project into the future, getting caught up in fears and worst-case scenarios. Instead of becoming trapped in the mind’s repetitive and ultimately self-defeating thought loops, you can use the following three mantras to move through a difficult situation and return to your innate state of balance and well-being.
1. I will begin with quiet awareness.
Your essential nature is pure, unbounded awareness: a state of infinite peace, infinite joy and infinite creativity. In this state of pure awareness, there is no struggle. You feel safe and connected to life. Solutions to problems spontaneously emerge. However, when you are in the midst of a challenging situation, your awareness can become constricted by fear, frustration and confusion. You may be working harder than ever, doing more of what didn’t work in the first place, feeling increasingly exhausted. As the physicist Albert Einstein said, “No problem can ever be solved at the level of awareness at which it was created.” The only way to solve your problem is through expanding your awareness, which opens you to greater clarity and new possibilities.
One of the most powerful ways to experience quiet awareness is the practice of meditation. There are many different kinds of meditation techniques that will help you go beyond the mind’s noisy internal dialogue. Here is a simple practice you can try right now:
Meditation on the Breath
Remember that no matter what difficult challenge you’re facing, as you cultivate quiet, expanded awareness, solutions will flow through you in ways that you couldn’t have imagined or predicted when your awareness was constricted.
2. I will say yes to change.
A crisis can bring up fears of the unknown. Your life is changing, and you may feel out of control and helpless. Although you can’t stop the cycles of change, you can learn to see change as friend rather than foe. One way of doing that is practicing seeing the possibilities in whatever happens, even if the situation seems dire. It means a willingness to take a deep look into whatever arises, even a sense of disappointment or loss. As the Sufi poet Rumi describes with heart-opening clarity, “Every need brings in what’s needed. Pain bears its cure like a child.”
If you don’t get what you expected, look at what happened and ask yourself, “Where is the gift in what I’ve received? How can I transform this situation into an opportunity to learn?” In this approach, change is accepted, not denied. A sense of spaciousness enters in.
“Yes” is a form of radical acceptance, a deep allowing of experiences to be as they are and to move through you so that you don’t become imprisoned in pain. The following meditation will help you open to change in the present moment:
Opening into Yes
3. I will focus on gratitude.
Whatever we put our attention on expands in our experience. If our mind is focused on what’s not going well in our lives, our fears about the future, and our grievances, we will experience a reality that feels painful and negative. On the other hand, if we focus our attention on what we are grateful for, we will experience a reality filled with love, joy, appreciation and peace—even in the midst of a difficult event or situation. Instead of dwelling on what is lacking, we appreciate what we have, and notice the many ways in which the universe is supporting us in every moment.
Gratitude is also a powerful tool for emotional well-being and physical health. As scientific research shows, people who focus on gratitude experience less stress, better sleep, more energy and greater levels of joy and happiness than their less-appreciative counterparts. However, you’ll only receive the benefits of gratitude if you focus on it, so here is a simple way to experience gratitude right now:
Deepak Chopra, MD, is the author of Unlimited Learnings, founder of The Chopra Foundation and co-founder of The Chopra Center.