Feeling like things are suddenly hopeless? Despair doesn’t ask to be invited in. It creeps in through the cracks in the window and envelops you with its weighty heft. Things go from OK to unbearable in one fell-swoop. Getting out can take effort that’s irritating and angsty. But lifting the cloak is worth the toil. Start by recognizing the reason hopelessness has arrived. It is likely trying to protect you from other emotions like pain or fear. Use the following practice to simply be with it, and though the feeling might not go away, gently let yourself move past the control it has on your emotions:

(1) MOVE (about 3 minutes)

Begin in a standing position with your feet hip-width apart. Take a breath in through your nose and out through your mouth with an audible exhale (say: “HA”). Repeat two more times. With your hands by your sides, start to move your arms forward and back, making a circular motion around your body and keeping your lower body mostly still. The circles can be as fast or as slow as you want, and your hands may lightly tap the side of your opposite hip as you do this, but don’t worry about what it looks like. Do this for the next 2-3 minutes. When you are are finished, come to stillness and return back to your deep inhales and exhales until you are ready to open your eyes.

(2) MEDITATE (about 5 minutes)

Read this poem on optimism. After you are finished, close your eyes and reflect internally on the following question: What fascinates me about life?

(3) MEDIATE (about 7 minutes and beyond)

Write a thank you note to any feeling of doubt or hopelessness you are experiencing. Use the inside of an envelope or a journal page. Then begin to peel it away. Turn the page or seal the envelope. Write the kindest thing you can say about yourself in this moment. Do the same thing for someone you are angry toward or hurt by. Do the same for a situation in the world you are scared of or angered by.

Carry these emotions of kindness with you throughout the rest of the day. Smile to the passerby, make conversation with the janitor, silently wish love and grace to those you see out and about. Plant tiny seeds of great optimism.

Machiasport, Maine

Machiasport, Maine