Updated: Feb 8, 2021
Lightning flashed. The rain was in a steady downpour. At around 6 or 7 years old, I sat huddled in the van with my younger brother and sister, wide-eyed, terrified, staring out into the darkness while the rest of our family worked quickly to tear down the campsite. They could only move so fast while standing in 6 inches of water with more coming down on top of them. Another bolt of lightning flashed, lighting up the entire sky. The thunder was deafening. I sat there, scared and helpless, while the storm raged in every direction around us.
The storm was eventually over. We were safe in a hotel several hours away. Other than my dad's sprained ankle, we were all ok. Everything was ok. But during the storm, when everything around me seemed to be out of my control, I was terrified.
Storms come and go. There are mild storms, and there are destructive storms. And each one of them will eventually pass. But right when you are in the middle of it, it can be a very scary time.
The storms of life also come and go. Some are mildly chaotic, while others seem to make us feel like everything in life is falling apart. Things seem out of control.
When so many things seem to be going wrong, this is the time to stop.
Step back. And watch the storm pass.
You cannot control what is happening. You can, however, control how you respond to it.
This is something I continue to practice daily. Some days, it takes more effort than others.
In early September 2020, I wrote and recorded the meditation called "Finding Peace & Calm Within the Storm." As I have written meditations, it has become a process of asking my soul what it needs at that moment. And as I write, I am guided to the answers. Little did I realize at that moment, just how much I would need those words over the following several weeks.
On Labor Day 2020, there was a huge wind storm that took our state by surprise. Already drought-stricken by the heat of the summer, the wind carried fires across the state as I have never before seen. A small town close to where I grew up burned to the ground. Within hours two more towns just south of us were gone. Thousands of homes and businesses were gone. Just like that. And more towns were burning. Fires were raging in every direction, and with it came a depth of fear and sadness that I have never felt before. Evacuations, loss, death, destruction, and the unknown of what would survive and what wouldn't.
During this time, I would listen to my meditation time and time again. And each day, I found myself centered and calm. When I would feel the fear start to grab ahold of my heart once again, I would sit back down and listen to the meditation again. It continued to pull me back to a place of balance. I could not control what was happening in the world around me. So I continued to focus on what I could control.
In the meditation, I find myself inside a storm. With so much going on around me, so much out of my control, I focus on a single drop of water. I focus on one thing and find peace within it. The storm continues to fall around me, but I find myself on steady ground, able to find calm and peace within myself.
During the fires, finding my single drop of water became something to focus on each day. I did not want to be gripped with fear, so I focused on what I could control and remained calm. Luckily, our town remained safe this year. But we were ready to evacuate if need be. And every time a wave of fear would come over me, I would focus again on my single drop of water.
Without that meditation, and that reminder, I know that I would have felt much more stress and fear. Instead, I found peace and calm.
I know that storms of life will come and go. But the real storm takes place within us. With our thoughts and our fears manifesting themselves. As I continue to find balance with this, I continue to breathe deeply with the hope that I will continue to focus on what I can control. That I will find something beautiful within each storm. That I will continue to realize that the scariest part is not what is happening outside of us, but what is happening inside of us. And at the same time, the most beautiful thing is that we have the power to change what is happening inside of us. We have the power to breathe more deeply. We have the ability to step outside of ourselves and observe life from a different perspective. We have the ability to focus on a single drop of water instead of the entire storm.
When we don't have the strength or ability to control anything that is going on around us, we can at least control what we focus on. And there is peace and calm within that.