I’m sending you a BIG HUG right now, with ALL of my heart.
Life has changed radically in the last week with the virus
pandemic and sometimes it’s more than our system can handle, and then we take a
deep breath and carry on, one scary step at a time. We are survivors like that,
fragile yet resilient beings.
If you’re like me, you’re experiencing a soup of emotions –
sadness, loss, anxiety, loss, fear, loss, hopelessness, loss, hopefulness, and
It’s like we were standing on this so called somewhat steady
ground (or so we thought) for our entire life and all of a sudden, no
exaggeration, the earth fell out from beneath our feet. And not just our feet,
but the feet of many, if not all of the people we share the planet with.
Some people before us, and some yet to come, but it’s
affecting us all on some level, whether it’s an inconvenience or we’ve had
incredible, unprecedented losses and are in shock, stunned, and not sure what to do.
I think each day, “Thank God I’m not in charge, and please
help those that are.”
On a spiritual level what we’re experiencing is an entire
lifetime of the truth of impermanence shortened into a week (which will be many
more…or longer). I sometimes hate that word. Like right now when little i (the
ego) doesn’t want to hear about impermanence. She really wants things to go
back to normal.
A few years ago a friend lost the love of her life suddenly
in a small plane crash. When we were talking a few months later, she brought up
the topic of impermanence, as others had mentioned it to her. She looked at me
squarely, tears welling up in her eyes and said, “Fuck impermanence. I just
want my husband back!”
That’s the stage we’re in: Fuck impermanence, I just want my
job back, my income back, my social dancing back, my co-workers back, my loved
ones back, my travel back, my friends back, my children back in school, my hugs
back, my peace and joy back, my LIFE BACK…
Acceptance of what is doesn’t happen quickly, nor should it.
Especially when radical change is happening at an unprecedented and unchartered
In the More to Life program I was a part of for many years,
they used the term Life Shock to describe events in life that feel difficult,
yet are there to “wake us up” from slumber, from being unconscious in life.
Again, if you’re like me, you’ve been experiencing numerous
Life Shocks a day, every day, for the last 10 days. One after the next. And if
you’re like me, you’re still absorbing the first life shock much less thinking
about it as another FGO (fucking growth opportunity).
How do we begin to navigate through the loss: the fear that
comes from not only that but the
lingering in the background or foreground fear of death from the virus for
ourselves and/or others, and the anxiety that permeates our moment to
moment daily experiences right now?
7 Tips to Calm the
The Buddha taught that along the spiritual path it’s
important to find a place to Take Refuge
– a way of being, a practice, and a commitment on your journey whether it’s in
times of difficulty or ease. It couldn’t be more helpful at this time.
I’ve taken his teaching as a framework and broadened it. The
Buddha taught to take refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha (this is first
3 out of the 7 tips).
Here’s how it applies to us today, at this moment, in the
midst of this global storm:
- Buddha: The Buddha represents the spirit within that we stem from. We can call this Buddha, God, Allah, Tara, Mother Mary, Saint Theresa, Krishna, Jesus – whatever name that rings true to your heart. Fall at her feet, cry to her, pray to him. Ask them to help you carry this loss, this pain, this fear. You don’t have to carry it alone. Ask for their compassion and love to hold you.
The Dharma are the teachings of the Buddha. We are isolated socially, but
there’s a world of “teachings” out there to help us through this from every
tradition and practice, and more coming out each day. Take an on-line class,
listen to an audio (which I provide you below), or read a book. Four books I
recommend for troubled times are: When
Things Fall Apart and The Places That
Scare You both by Pema Chodren, True Refuge by Tara Brach, and Broken Open by Elisabeth Lesser.
The Sangha is the community we surround ourselves with along the path. We are
practicing physical distancing from people, but it will help our hearts and
minds immensely to reach out by phone. Take this time to truly connect with
others. I greatly miss the days I could phone a friend and they’d answer – and
vice versa. Lets bring back the days of calling more often instead of mostly texting.
When you’re thinking of someone – how they’re doing – reach out to them. We
need each other more than ever right now. Help those in need in your community.
It could be a smile to a stranger on the street, a donation to help the
homeless or a role of toilet paper for your neighbor.
Our bodies, hearts and minds need us to FEEL, not to avoid feeling. Please
allow yourself to feel all that you’re experiencing. It’s there, I guarantee
it. Let the fear, the pain, the anxiety, the loss come to the surface. Cry,
scream, dance, sing (listen to the Italians singing), journal it, write it,
talk about it.
With so many Life Shocks coming in a short time frame, and for some of us, a
feeling of desperation, we’re in panic (ie: toilet paper buying), grasping for
control, trying to hang on to something.
Do this as much as you need. This is little i trying to survive. It’s normal.
Then pause, really, really pause, and let yourself be with what is without trying to change it. In these short
moments, we can tap into an inner knowing that everything is okay and will be
okay. It gives the mind a chance to relax and sometimes can create clarity of
what the right next step is to take without it coming from a place of grasping.
Medicine: Take great care to limit yourself to one or two media pieces a
day to keep anxiety lower. Stick to your daily rituals like meditation, hot
showers, daily walks, yoga, animal petting, etc. – they will help you whether
the storm. Elevate your mood – watch funny movies, laugh with a friend over the
phone or with your family at dinner, say grace and gratitude, tell a joke (I
don’t promote drinking, but this one gave me a good laugh J “What do you call a
martini that you drink at home by yourself? A quarantini!”
- Grounding: Our entire bodily system is going through an incredible time right now. By slowing down and returning to that which feeds and sustains us on all levels – nature, we can find moments of earth beneath our feet again thru these suggestions:
– Take walks and hikes, garden outside or in, plant seeds, work with the soil,
watch the critters outside living in the moment (birds flying, animals eating).
Nature helps us come back to the present moment.
– Sit or walk by a river, creek, or the ocean. Take a hot bath. It relaxes the
mind and the nervous system. Water is very grounding for us.
– Take big deep breaths every day, many times a day, especially when you notice
fear or anxiety. This helps calm the nervous system.
– Sit by a fire, have an open fire, cook, bake. This also helps us slow down
and return to center.
My dear friend, be incredibly kind to yourself during this
time. Be compassionate with every reaction and every emotion you’ve had and are
having and will have.
When I had technology sensitivity for a year and half (I
would feel sick using the cell phone, computer and eventually wifi), I was
isolated from friends and family – I had to choose each day, to feel healthy or
to connect with someone, but I couldn’t have both. I almost always chose my
I know the pain of isolation and the difficulty of making that choice. We are choosing as a nation right now to isolate for the health of us all. We are resilient. Keep hope, belief and knowing alive in your heart that this will pass and we will be thriving again. Perhaps with a new perspective and new opportunities.
A deep bow of gratitude to you. May you and your loved ones be healthy and at ease during this difficult time.
Categories: Health & Happiness, Stress & Anxiety