At a certain point, we can grow so accustomed to toxic patterns of thinking and behaving that we fail to realize that such rhythms are counter-productive. When I was younger, I would spend a lot of time and energy trying to dissect and analyze the thoughts that came from desolation, but now I am learning to simply resist the whole train of thought.

I don’t mean to suggest that counteracting the disordered patterns that arise from desolation is as simple as turning a light switch off. However, I have found great fruit in learning to identify and work against when my thoughts, feelings, and desires head in that direction. Thus, I have developed strategies that help me to withhold consent from their poison.

For example, I am a big fan of praying with the breath. In this strategy, I simply connect with my breathing and allow myself to feel the sensations that come with desolation. Often, this takes place when I am driving and it has been a long day. In these situations, I imagine myself looking at the sensation (which often manifests itself as tensions in very specific areas) and gently massaging it with my breathing.

Another strategy I use is connecting with my environment and imagine how gentle and soft it is within itself. I look at the rhythm of trees moving in the breeze, and I see the strong sensations I am experiencing in relation to what I perceive to be the calmness of nature.

Also, vocal prayers and devotions such as the Rosary and the Divine Mercy Chaplet can help us to crowd out the patterns of desolation by moving the will and mind towards God’s presence.

I could describe many similar strategies I use to work against the disorders of desolation. The key I have learned is that I develop strategies that work for me and apply a little intuition and creativity in adapting them.

Just remember, you are not at your best when you are in desolation. Don’t make changes, don’t make decisions. Learn to work against them and wait for your heart to return to a place of greater flow and connectedness with the Lord.