Sunday, December 5, 2010

Overcoming Overwhelm

Have you ever seen a flock of seagulls screaming and flying in all directions so that they all appear to be one teaming mass of feathers and sounds? Does your mind ever seem to have this same sense of overwhelm when your "to do" list gets out of control and your mind is scattered in all directions? How do you create a sense of calm amid this turmoil?

Like some kind of dark force, overwhelm can temporarily paralyze you. It can feel like a pressing weight that is impossible to lift. So what would a superhero like Batman do in this situation? Would he let an oppressive force smother him or would he somehow find the power to break this heavy weight into insignificant pieces?

Of course we know the answer to this question. Letting overwhelm stop and control us is like Batman allowing the Joker and the Penguin to take over Gotham City. Instead he goes deep inside his Batcave, away from distractions, and makes a plan. His steady intention to protect the citizens of Gotham City fuels him to take action.

That first step is typically the hardest. Batman does not have any superpowers. But he uses his intuition and the gifts he knows he has to accomplish the seemingly impossible. We all have gifts and skills. When we acknowledge them and use them with a strong intention, their power becomes magnified. Getting past overwhelm requires taking a step, however small it may be.

Our "to do" list can be like an enemy ready to squash even our most valiant efforts. But if we take time to find our inner stillness, our intention can be the force that will guide and inspire us to action.

Yoga can be overwhelming as well. So many poses, so many details, so much resistance in our bodies and minds. This is the time to sit quietly and set an intention. Be mindful of your foundation that supports every pose. Let each breath quietly guide you. Engage your muscles to tap into the strength you have and let your spirit express itself in a light and expansive way. This is the power of yoga that can dissolve overwhelm.

Overwhelm is part of modern day living. Computers, cell phones, iPods, and the world-wide web give us easy access to an enormous amount of information, choices, products and entertainment. In some ways it brings us out of our true element. Human beings need quiet and rest. We also have many gifts that we can tend to push into the background. So when overwhelm is taking control, turn to your breath, listen to your intuition and take that first step to set your intention in motion.

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