By Lauren Tutuny
What is strength? What does it mean to you? What does it mean today, in this modern digital 2020 era, and what did it mean to you in the past? How does one demonstrate strength? Who is someone you admire who demonstrates true strength? Is strength directly associated with the physical, mental, emotional or spiritual facets of or existence? Do you think of the classic 90’s pop Britney Spears song, “Stronger” like the child in me does? Or, is it something deeper…
Warm up your brain juices and consider what being strong means to you now, and perhaps open your mind to a different version of strength to practice. The true essence of strength is intertwined between all aspects of life. Strength is a noun, and also a feeling that has always been vital for human evolution and prosperity. But perhaps it could appear to be something different than our Western Civilization society’s idea of masculine strength.
When I mention masculine vs. feminine energy, I refer to the yin (feminine) and yang (masculine) motions of life ☯. One cannot coexist from the other. According to basic science, static and kinetic energy are always in motion, but it seems as though society favors the kinetic, yang, motions of always being “on the go” of the world in order to attach success to our existence. This coincides with strength.
SO, what happens when a record breaking global pandemic shakes the majority of countries in the world? Some seemingly forced yin energy is now among us all at once seeping into our collective consciousness, and we are all halted on a pause button of reality. Life cannot exist without these times to reflect, be still and look at where we are at. It is difficult to alter our automatically programmed and overstimulated yang minds to chill and learn different internal operations systems as our new go-to.
Good thing neuroplasticity is on our side! We have the opportunity to consider the impact we make on this world. Whether that impact is through consumerism, reducing our carbon footprint by eating more plant-based, or steering our life path towards another direction within certain institutions like our relationships or work that is more beneficial to well-being. If you have the privilege to read this article, and your safety is secured, then perhaps take time to acknowledge that, and act accordingly later to control what you can.
Obviously putting life on hold with our past routines and plans hasn’t been ideal, and it is extremely difficult. Creating a routine and taking care of my mental health to deter the more depressive, and debilitating thoughts, has helped me observe myself approaching the stress of the current global health crises. Being strong now looks different on a daily basis, and requires acceptance and boundaries.
I always thought being mentally strong meant just “sucking up” some repressed, anxious thoughts for others and pushing through was the only option. Repression leads to transpiration in sneaky ways. My choice to deal with those emotions, validate them and feel them on my own in order to operate as my highest self is critical, talk therapy helps with this too. The Cognitive Behavioral Theory demonstrates how thoughts are connected to emotions, emotions are attached to our feelings and behaviors. I connect this theory to each circumstance in my life daily (try to at least).
For example, instead of excessively pushing through a workout or grinding through another work task in order to appear “strong” I now know that nurturing these feelings of insecurity are a key component to remaining strong and efficient, or my body could go into hypertension mode. Being honest with my thoughts and feelings creates a ripple affect of events in my life. This involves some serious surrender.
I like to practice surrendering through a restorative yin yoga practice, like the child’s pose to release excess strains in my joints caused by stressful emotions taken on with these times. In the past I may have pushed my body in a heated vinyasa flow yoga class or the gym to maintain a more dense muscle mass to associate with my internal strength. I now know this push is not beneficial, because at the end of the day, rest days, calmness and stress reduction are key components to being strong. To truly feel these heavy times in order to open our eyes and work our way out to a new destination is necessary. Sometimes pausing, softening, and releasing makes room to strengthen and solidify what is better suited for life is necessary. This appears different for everyone depending on the day. True strength involves honestly knowing yourself and punching old habits in order to create new growth and longevity.
“The only way out is through.”-Robert Frost.