Crisis happens. Like a storm sweeping across the land, a crisis can disrupt personal life, community life, national life and, at times, global life. Having a crisis time tip is like having a tool in the box you wish you had. The history of mankind is replete with crisis, almost as if it is a necessary ingredient in social evolution. From small tribes to large cities, crisis has played a crucial role in bringing about transformations. A common definition of crisis from a standard dictionary is ‘a time of great disagreement, confusion or suffering.’ A better understanding of crisis comes from the origins of the word:
early 15c.,crise, crisis, “decisive point in the progress of a disease,” also “vitally important or decisive state of things, point at which change must come, for better or worse,” from Latinized form of Greek krisis “turning point in a disease, that change which indicates recovery or death” (used as such by Hippocrates and Galen), literally “judgment, result of a trial, selection,” from krinein “to separate, decide, judge,” from PIE root *krei-“to sieve,” thus “discriminate, distinguish.” A German term for “mid-life crisis” is Torschlusspanik, literally “shut-door-panic,” fear of being on the wrong side of a closing gate.’ “(etymonline.com).
Although there may be collective crisis, a crisis is, be definition, a decision point, for an individual person, within a context over which there may be little if any control. There are many tips and pointers about how best to deal with a crisis, most of which are intellectual concepts. The one crisis time tip that transcends concepts and provides direct immediate relief is….BREATHE!
Crisis is a tense situation; when tense, breathing is restricted. When breathing is restricted, executive functions, such as decision making, tend to become disabled or shut down. Indecision in a situation which requires a decision is traumatizing. Generally, there are two basic responses to a crisis; fight it, deal with it, wrestle with it, struggle with, or flee from it. If neither fight nor flee is an option, freeze happens; indecision happens. Being stuck in a tense situation with no where to turn happens, and our breathing reflects that tight frozen constriction. During those moments of freeze, breath actually stops briefly; we hold our breath, and in that holding is the inability to think.
So, BREATHE! Breathing is an autonomic process and it can also be regulated intentionally, consciously. We can breathe fully in, and fully out; we can hold our breath; we can breathe rapidly, or slowly. There are many specific ways one can breathe to help regulate emotions and get ‘grounded’ or ‘centered.’ Breathwork can help adjust the nervous system such that decision making thaws out; we can become less tense, more calm and collected, even in the midst of a crisis, which can then keep the crisis from becoming a catastrophe or a tragedy. When the plot of a story hinges on a significant, life altering decision, the worst decision leads to a tragedy. The best decision leads to a comedy. If you want to increase the probabilities of a comedy outcome from a crisis, learn to BREATHE.
Below are some links to sites which provide information on the various breathwork approaches which one can learn without difficulty. All it requires is a receptive mind and the decision to give it a try.
‘The problems of a period are the existential crises of what can be but hasn’t yet been resolved; and regardless of how seriously we take that word ‘resolved,’ if there were not some new possibility, there would be no crisis – there would be only despair.’
– Rollo May