Feeling Troubled? Five Suggestions

My Toolkit for Turmultuous Times

Here are the five suggestions: 

  1. Breathe into the feeling, mindfully
  2. Learn Sacred Breathing
  3. Sit with it and face it
  4. Do some healing work on it
  5. Get with wise people to talk about it

Are you feeling it? These are turbulent times. It’s no wonder we are feeling troubled. Meditation can help—the subject of this post. Not surprising, from a world war level pandemic, to a country coming apart at the seams, to millions losing, perhaps permanently, their jobs, to having to stay home (or choose to go out at your own peril.) For those in the San Francisco area, fires are raging everywhere caused by a rare, intense lightning storm with no rain. (It won’t rain until December here.)

Trouble like this is frightening. It goes to the core of our human mind biology. To our reptilian brain intent on survival. And stimulates fear, adrenaline, dread, confusion, and sleepless nights. Unless we can figure out how to deal with it.

Mindful Breathing

Mindfulness meditation is one way to approach the problem that bypasses the overstimulated brain and can help anyone who is having physical, mental, emotional or spiritual issues. Including the unusually perilous seas we seem to be experiencing.

Mindfulness can be as simple as taking a deep breath or two and saying a soothing phrase to ourselves. “Peace be Still” is a good one—it has a tinge of assertiveness. And then pause a moment to let that marinate in our consciousness. Sometimes that’s all it takes to begin to calm down a bit and get some perspective. And, better yet, to let Spirit flow into the moment to lighten the load. Sometimes I have to breathe and say this to myself several times. Breathe. Peace be Still.

In a way, it’s a blessing to know this simple trick for soothing the mind because it can be used at any time for anything that is troubling. Having this tool at our disposal can interrupt the momentum of the mind and the moment that seems to be taking us in the wrong direction. Saying “Peace be Still” and breathing can put us right into that proverbial “Moment of Now” that Ekhart Tolle talks about. Or that moment of, “be here, now” that Ram Dass made famous. 

Sacred Breathing

I developed a technique for myself that I call “Sacred Breathing” several years ago when I had a traumatic experience that seemed very threatening at the time. My wife Lynne and I had moved to San Diego for me to take a major promotion. And for us to get back to the West Coast after being in my home state of North Carolina for twenty years, following our move thereafter the big Bay Area earthquake of ’89. Unfortunately, my boss turned out to be a sociopath (a person who has no moral compass and will lie and cheat at any time without impunity).

After six months, I had to report the problem to people several levels up the organizational ladder. “Whistleblowing” to use familiar language from recent events. An investigation was done and she was reassigned. I was fired for being a “troublemaker”. And thus ended my career, for all intents and purposes, in my profession of many years where I seemed destined to be a senior official, perhaps a state director of my program, perhaps here in California.

I was devastated. I identified very closely with my job and my ego was very tied up with it. In fact, I “was my job”, taking a lot of satisfaction and pride in my accomplishments. What was I going to do? (The same question many people are asking themselves right now). I didn’t know. It was discombobulating and frightening.

This caused me to dive deep into my meditation practice for solace. And I “discovered” Sacred Breathing. I had never heard those words before, but they made sense one evening as I was sitting quietly and writing for therapy. “Sacred Breathing” were the words that popped into my consciousness. I had to find out what that was.

And I discovered it was nothing more than mindfulness breathing with a twist. In Sacred Breathing (see my blog post I did something similar to traditional mindfulness by first taking a deep breath or two, and then saying to myself, “Illuminate. Elevate. Radiate”. Similar to “Peace be Still” but with a key difference. By shifting my mind to, not a place of Peace but a place of Illumination, the experience was one of Spirit “lighting me up”. This would, inevitably “Elevate” me into a higher vibration, a state of higher consciousness. After a time or two, I would breathe myself into that Place from which I was able, even, to “Radiate” that State of Mind out into my immediate surroundings.

Thus, began the reinvention of myself. After 100,000 words of therapeutic writing, I began to realize that I had a talent with words. And with expressing myself about the mystical journey I was on. Therapeutic, free form writing can be equally helpful, by the way.

Sit with It and Face It

This is what I had to do to reinvent myself. Sit with the multiple layers of “trouble” I was experiencing. My wife had taught me to “feel my feelings” over the years. I was not always a cooperative student, sometimes preferring to push my feelings out of the way so that I didn’t have to feel them. So, I was prepared, at least to a degree, to practice feeling my feelings about this tragedy.

I learned many things by, again, using meditation in yet a different way than I ever had. Sit down meditation I was familiar with, the practice of sitting cross-legged or in a chair, for five to fifteen minutes, at the end of my yoga workout. It was aimed at mind training, the type of meditation I had learned, based on observing my thoughts until my mind ran out of words and I would just sit in silence. I got good at this method during the time of my reinvention.

The deeper I dove into my practice, the more I realized that I was more interested in exploring the experience of Illumination than I was a quiet mind. That, in fact, getting to a quiet mind led to experiencing Illumination most naturally. And that led me to develop my own meditation technique that has, as its goal, as its intention, the experience of Illumination without having to go through many years of taming the wild horse that my mind seemed to resemble. Wild and unruly. 

Do Some Healing Work on It

Experiencing Higher Consciousness, which I came to realize was the same as Soul contact, was, by its very nature, healing. First and foremost, it quieted the insistent chattering of my “monkey mind” as some Buddhist call it. I found I could take a Sacred Breath or two, say “Peace be Still”, and sit for a while in Illumination. Far superior to a just a quiet mind, which was nice, but not the same as feeling “lit up” by Spirit.

I began to heal. I began to be able to take a breath and I had a Higher Self and a human self, where I had only identified totally with my human self before. I began to think clearly about my situation. In fact, I began to be able to just sit with it and allow it to be, without devolving into anxiety and a string of worry thoughts.

Writing helped a lot. After a while, the words began to just flow through my fingers and onto the computer screen. Words that sometimes surprised me by their clarity. Words that began to dissolve the knot in my stomach. Words that had a soothing and healing quality. Words that became many words.  

Get with Wise People to Talk about It

If you know any wise ones, and almost everyone does, get together with them and have a chat. Say it the way it is. Verbalize the texture of it. Have them ask you questions. Or see a therapist who’s compassionate. Find someone to talk with about it.

And use, as an outline for discussion, the other four parts of this list of things to do. Do them all. Dig deep. Do the work. You are your best asset.

Sometimes the trouble, as John Lewis used to say is, “good trouble”. Trouble you need to be into, like non-violent protesting. Sometimes not. Sometimes the trouble is within and sometimes without. Well, actually, the trouble always has its source within. The within causes the within troubles and also the without troubles. It’s just harder to see that the without always starts somewhere within.

This is a hard truth because it sometimes looks like you had nothing to do with what is troubling you. To see the truth of this you have to shift your consciousness from good/bad, right/wrong to asking “What is my part in this?” Or even, what vibration within has caused the attraction of that which is without.

The beauty of that question, though, is that if you can get at what the source is, you can change the vibratory rate at which you have been vibrating and attract something else. Perhaps something else more desirable and then you can really take control of your life. Because you will have exercised that muscle that you can employ the next time, and the next, and the next.

You will be able to step outside of your internal and external circumstances and be the source of your life and your life’s experiences. Try it. And try again. You may not get it the first time. But the fifth or the tenth time, the use of the tool will “click” and you will have the first of a repeatable ability.


Trouble causes stress. Stress can cause a lot of problems. Meditation, both sit-down and mindfulness meditation, can help relieve the stress and bring us down off of that adrenaline high that can be so addictive. These techniques are so easy to learn and can last a lifetime (or several).Blair Abee



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