3 things to do when you get triggered

written by Erica Quam

I love teaching yoga to give people tools to find more freedom in their bodies and more quietness in their minds. And I'll be the first to admit that I struggle with some of the same challenges that come up for my students when it comes to quieting the mind!

No matter how much yoga or meditation you do, life still happens. 

We all have situations that come up and people who trigger us - mentally and emotionally. It can't be avoided! However, when you become aware of the what (or the who) then you can actually do something productive to change the outcome - instead of reacting in a way that you may regret later on.

Think of it as staying vertical instead of going horizontal. 

When you are horizontal...your attention is splattered all over the place. Your mind is scattered and you quickly get overwhelmed. Your emotions are on a roller coaster ride that slowly go up the hill, then quickly go down the hill. They veer quickly around corners and come to an abrupt stop. You may literally feel as if you have left your body.

When you get vertical...you come BACK to your body. Feel your feet on the ground...as they press downwards. There's something very simple about rooting yourself into the earth. There is connectedness.

As you get grounded, you can bring your attention more inward. Notice the things going on internally vs. externally. Observe the natural flow of your breath and the steady beat of your heart. Usually, just by bringing your attention to the breath, you begin to lengthen it, and by observing your heartbeat it slows down. 

As you get vertical, observe what's going on in your mind. Is it busy? Are you able to focus on one thought at a time? Can you let go of thoughts and bring your attention to the breath instead? We humans are powerful, yet we can ALLOW things to get out of control. 

What situations in your life take YOU horizontal? Aka...what are your triggers? Is there a pattern to how you react? If so, can you change your patterns of reaction when these things happen? Most people don't show up as their best self when they are in this reaction mode.

I believe you can change - although you first have to want to. Maybe you won't totally get rid of these patterns of behavior. However, with practice you CAN change how long you stay horizontal and with awareness get vertical more quickly.

When you feel life getting out of control...get vertical.  Here's how:

  1. Pause - wherever you are (unless you're driving)...take a moment to close your eyes. Your eyes are the connection to your brain. When the eyes are still, the brain gets more still. Draw your attention more inwards. Even if you are having a hard conversation...and you want to yell, or scream, or shake your fists. Close your eyes, take one deep breath, and come back to your body.
  2. Feel - your feet touching the ground. Feel your legs, your arms, your shoulders and your neck. Now stand up tall! Changing the physical posture of your body will actually change the stress hormones inside you.
  3. Re-connect - to the situation (or the person) from a place of power. The event plus your reaction to the event equals the outcome. If you are more vertical and grounded versus horizontal and scattered you will respond for a better outcome.

Try it this week: Observe yourself. Notice when you feel grounded and when you feel scattered. When you start to go horizontal...1. pause to take a breath 2. feel your feet and stand up tall 3. re-connect back to the event from a place of power. Let me know what happens! Leave a comment here.