The Ebb and Flow of Strong Emotion

There is an image that helps me weather times of intense emotion, such as fear or sadness, and I’d like to share it with you.

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Perhaps it will resonate and help you in times of stress, too.

My favorite beach in Maui is Napili Bay, a beautiful small crescent of sand and surf with a view of neighboring island Molokai.

When I’m there, I wade in past the breaking waves to a spot where I am up just up to my neck in the water but I can still touch. The sandy bottom has no rocks, so I can just relax my toes into the soft sand.

I hang out there, enjoying life.

The water is warm, the sun is shining, and I can smell the salty air of the ocean mixed with the fragrant scent of plumeria.

Then, I notice a wave slowly undulating towards me. Because I am out past the point where waves break to the shore, I know that it will pass by me. And yet, I still find my level of anxiety rising.

As the wave approaches, my toes lift from the sandy bottom and I am suddenly adrift and floating. I feel nervous, caught up in the emotion of not feeling grounded. My heart skips a beat and I hold my breath.

And then, slowly, I remember to breathe.

After a moment of being untethered and feeling uncertain, I feel the wave pass. My body descends and slowly my toes find the sandy bottom again.

Once more, I am grounded.

I find this imagery so helpful to remember when I feel overcome with emotion. When I recall the image of the wave passing over me, I realize that fear, sadness, and anger are transitory states and when I don’t resist the emotion, but rather relax into it, it is much easier on me and I come back into myself quicker.

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