Maima Kama wrote, “Hope is a discipline.”
But what happens when hope feels far away?
Too often, we let ourselves get bogged down by darkness.
And I get it. Darkness in our lives can feel challenging. Overwhelming. Intense.
And yet, I was reminded of something this summer as I sat on our balcony, overlooking the Baltimore harbor as menacing thunderstorms rolled in.
As the clouds rolled in, followed by thunder and lightning – our view took on a whole new feel. And while the swirl of the storm looked intense, it was followed by a crisp blue sky and a rainbow that created a bridge over the harbor.
I was reminded that darkness is not the opposite of light. It is energy waiting to be revealed, sometimes as a storm of torrential forces and subtle shifts that unveil a radiant shine.
What if, instead of wishing it away, we could be open to the potential energy that it could offer?
What if instead of seeing darkness as a wall, we could create a doorway – with Hope? And what if by turning towards hope, we could share it – and create ripples of even more hope in the world?
Four Ways to Find and Share Hope
The quest for hope is a practice, and here are four ways for you to turn towards this practice on any given day.
1. H is for heart.
We hear a lot about gratitude, and for good reason. Turning towards gratitude is nourishment for our souls. And if we allow ourselves to be filled with the FEELING of gratitude, it is a portal for Hope.
So yes, make your gratitude list. Or better yet, pause – maybe even right now — and name one thing you feel gratitude towards. And then notice: what does that gratitude actually feel like in your body? Allow that feeling to be like a lotion or balm that you massage yourself with. Give yourself permission to not just think about this gratitude but truly absorb it on a cellular level.
2. O is for Observe
Hope does not exist in a vacuum. It does not exclude challenge, frustration, or disappointment. One of the truths about accessing Hope is allowing yourself to be present with what is, by observing –instead of judging your thoughts and emotions.
Observing and offering yourself compassion invites you to step towards hope. One of my favorite self-compassion practices (for the challenging and exuberant moments in life) is inspired by the world of Krisen Neff. Offering myself a permission slip, “Of course I feel this way,” is an invitation to be whole. And in this wholeness, you create space for discernment about what matters.
3. P is for Create space for possibility
Children are born naturally curious. They learn and develop by exploring through their senses and approaching the world with a “what if” mindset. They experiment, explore, and play without fear of “getting it wrong.”
Adults, on the other hand, often fall into the trance of productivity. Wanting certainty. Expecting.
Creating space for possibility begins with allowing yourself to get clear about how you want to FEEL. Naming the energy you want to cultivate is a powerful way to set a course for hope.
Once you’ve named how you want to feel, you can claim that energy by getting curious and looking for where it already exists.
4. E is for Embodying the feeling
One of the things I know about turning darkness, or the walls in our life – into doorways – is that the truest and most sustainable transformation begins with the body.
Practicing how you want to feel isn’t just a “fake it till you make it” exploration. The more you can allow yourself to FEEL possibility and hope in your body, the more you can recognize it in the world.
My favorite practice to embody the feeling and attune to the energy of hope is with music. Turning on a favorite song that represents how I want to feel is an exploration of aliveness. It is about allowing myself to “attune” to hope instead of trying to “attain” Hope.
The truth about the journey to finding hope is that it takes effort and intention. But just like the storm that revealed a rainbow, every day is a reminder to consider: What if this is where it all begins?
Elena Sonnino is a life coach, yoga teacher, and author of Inhabit Your Joy: A Book of Nudges. What most people say about her is that she brings sparks of energy to everything she does.
She is a guide for helping people come home to themselves. To their inner wisdom. To their strength. And to their joy.
When not leading life-coaching groups, retreats, or yoga practices, Elena can be found reading on her balcony in Baltimore, Maryland, surrounded by her many plants, dragon boating, or planning adventures big and small with her husband, college-aged daughter, and labradoodle Jupiter.