I know I’m not the only one feeling this way. Many of us are experiencing fatigue from the extreme degree of adjustment and adaptation that has been required of us as we learn to shop differently, work in unfamiliar conditions or not at all, and socialize in new, less satisfying, ways.
Last week I shared some soothing techniques from ACEP, the Association for Comprehensive Energy Psychology. Today I have something from the HeartMath Institute.
The video below describes a quick way to reset your system when you’re reaching the limit of your ability to cope. It can be done anywhere, several times a day. Although they refer specifically to health care workers, this simple action can help all of us deal with the daily grind of this on-going pandemic.
The HeartMath Institute has been researching resilience for thirty years. They define it as the capacity to prepare for, recover from, and adapt in the face of challenge, adversity, or stress. The results of their efforts are especially timely at this moment in history.
They did a whole series of videos for healthcare workers. Here are several that apply to all of us, including the children we care for…
This is a difficult time, the kind that can cause us to store trauma in our bodies as we try to cope—with new demands, with the loss of our sense of autonomy, with the anxiety of not knowing what’s coming next…
Trauma is the response of our nervous system to an overwhelming situation. It is not the event, it’s how we deal with it.
Trauma lives on…if we let it.
What we don’t process at the time it occurs will live with us in our energy field, where it interferes with our ability to function well as life goes on.
The problem is, we aren’t given the tools.
What we need is on-the-spot, do-it-yourself ways of dispersing the energy of trauma before it becomes solidified in our energy field. There are several methods of energy work. I’ve used a number of them to good effect in recent years.
There are some simple things you can do on your own—an important factor in these days of physical distancing. The short video below demonstrates one of these methods. You might think it looks too simple. But try it. I was surprised at the amount of tension it melted away in me—tension I didn’t know I was holding. And I’m glad it’s gone so it can’t solidify somewhere and come back to haunt me later!
You’ll notice it is kids who are demonstrating. This video appeared in a recent blogpost by ACEP, the Association for Comprehensive Energy Psychology. The subject was Help Your Kids Calm Down Faster. If you are responsible for children during this time, I think you’ll find it worthwhile. Especially noteworthy is the preventive tip I have quoted here. It applies to all of us.
Pro Tip: Instead of waiting until your child is totally overwhelmed, integrate this technique with your kids throughout the day. This will help them stay calmer all day long and hopefully avoid some major blow-ups.
After doing these simple activities, people typically feel more calm, centred, balanced, grounded, relaxed, and better able to focus. Simple energy techniques are a good way to keep ourselves on an even keel in stressful times. Give it a try and see what you think.
I have long been interested in the big picture of life and its events. I often ask myself: What is the point? Why am I doing this? What exactly is going on here?
While teaching a college course about issues in consumer economics, I couldn’t confine my curriculum to simply talking about the technicalities of money management and buymanship. It seemed obvious to me that how we think is the driver of the choices we make, and that conscious choices serve us better than mindless ones. So that became my underlying theme as I discussed the practicalities of navigating the consumer culture.
I wrote a book called Conscious Spending, Conscious Life, so it shouldn’t be surprising that I see this pandemic—an event which is affecting everyone on the planet—as part of our human journey of consciousness.
And I’ve been doing energy work for years, learning various methods for clearing my energetic clutter as the practices of energy medicine and psychology have evolved. So dealing with the unseen is familiar to me.
In the blink of an eye…
Here’s what I know to be true in the realm of energy:
Things can happen in the blink of an eye.Witness the world-wide spread of a new coronavirus, COVID-19.
There is an air of mystery.A virus is frustratingly intangible to our usual senses.
We are being invited…
This crisis is inviting us to transform—our selves, and therefore our world. We have been propelled into a situation we can’t back out of. The only way out is to navigate through. And that navigation depends on engaging our consciousness in ways we wouldn’t have if we’d continued on our old familiar paths.
Caroline Myss is a five-time New York Times bestselling author and internationally renowned speaker in the fields of human consciousness, spirituality and mysticism, health, energy medicine, and the science of medical intuition. All of these areas come together in her big-picture view of what this pandemic is calling forth in us, individually and collectively. She says: “We’re going to evolve out of this. It’s a journey of consciousness—together we have the chance to create a better world.”
Key thoughts from Caroline Myss…
This experience that we are sharing has the elements of the larger context of mystical transformation.
First, the nature of a sacred journey is that we never get to decide when it’s going to start, how it’s going to start, or what will be asked of us. We never get to make that decision – it simply ignites.
The second thing is we never get to choose the components – they just arise out of the setting of our lives.
Third, transformation accompanies some kind of trauma. There is something that has to be changed.
We have to now go into deep reflection and ask:
What is it within myself that I need to transform?
What is the person I need to be as I go forward for the rest my life?
Is there a part of me that instead of being a hoarder, could I be more generous?
Instead of being impatient, can I be a better listener?
Instead of wanting to be first, can I embrace being second?
What is it in you that needs transformation? Because there’s something in all of us that needs transformation. Otherwise we wouldn’t need to be here now.
Aching to get back to normal after six weeks of carefully following some pretty restrictive rules.
Do we really want to go back? I wonder if it makes any sense to return to doing the very things that created systems so fragile they failed us at the time we needed them most?
This new coronavirus has shone a spotlight on the flaws and weaknesses of the systems we’ve created over the years—health care, aged care, business, economics, education. We have become painfully aware of their flaws in both structure and underlying philosophy.
What would be a better way?
Is there a better way? And how will we get there? There is no doubt we need a major revisioning to create systems that are resilient, humane, and sustainable—which is not true of how we’ve been living.
Fortunately, we live in a non-linear universe, and there are people who have been working on how we could design systems to be more resilient, humane, and sustainable.
In the mid-1990s, I spent time at Schumacher College in the UK. I was intrigued when I learned about the implications of living n a quantum reality. The discoveries of quantum physics in the twentieth century blew open the scientific world—suggesting previously unimagined possibilities. The idea that a system could be flipped from one “basin of attraction” to another caught my attention. Apparently, this happens when the system is operating at its edge, which is where chaos occurs. In such a state, even a small perturbation (disruption) can provoke the system into a whole new way of operating (another basin of attraction).
Such descriptions of energy are abstract and often confounding to our literal, linear ways of thinking. Yet I find it comforting to know there is more to life than meets the eye—making a lot possible that I’d never think of.
Peter Merry is one of the people who does think about how things could be done differently. He is a Fellow of the Center for Human Ecology in the UK where he did his MSc with a thesis on the future of work and economics. His thesis was recently published as a book under the title Why Work?: Economics and Work for People and Planet. The description reads, in part:
Why Work? shows us how we can change our policies, take action directly in our communities to carve out the space for us to reclaim our humanity, and engage in activities that reward our deeper needs, our communities and our planet as a whole.
It is the nature of non-linear change moments, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, that we can’t predict what the future is going to be that emerges from it. According to Peter Merry, the key is to notice what is breaking down (systems, structures, ways of thinking, ways of doing things) and help them let go gracefully—while, at the same time, putting in place the conditions that will accelerate the new solutions that are emerging. In the process, we will see two responses: Regression to fear-based, contracted reactions, and break-through to more integrated wholistic responses.
In the interview which follows, he elaborates with examples from healthcare, business, and education. I found this discussion rich, practical and hopeful.
Peter Merry spoke about a new initiative, Humanity Rising, which he described as an on-line experience bringing together speakers with alternative plans for creating a future we will feel proud of. It will highlight both new ways of thinking and concrete solutions that have been worked on under the radar for the past twenty years or so. To find out more, go to http://humanityrising.solutions. The on-line event begins May 22, 2020.
It is one of the illusions of these times that we can control our world and the people in it—an understandable desire, certainly, because it’s comforting to think we can make everything go our way. For many people, being in control gives them a feeling of security. And truthfully, it is possible to live that way for awhile. But eventually we encounter something beyond our control—an extreme weather event, a dramatic economic downturn, or a serious illness.
At the time, I was thinking of individual money management and being prepared for the unexpected. I certainly had no idea that we would, in my lifetime, experience two of these events at once and collectively—all of us, together, across the world.
I wanted my students to recognize that navigating the consumer culture is challenging, and requires us to be aware, to skillfully use our tools and resources, and to master ourselves and our impulses.
The consumer culture fosters none of that. In fact, it is structured to get us to act mindlessly. Encouraging students to think for themselves—rather than responding in knee-jerk reaction to cultural expectations—was one of my themes.
We are all being invited to rethink…
The double whammy of a pandemic and economic disintegration has shaken our culture to the core. Even the cleverest of us is not able to avoid it, so what are we to do? From my point of view, it seems a shame to miss the opportunity for thinking more consciously about the choices we make. If we don’t embody what we can learn about ourselves in a crisis, we slip back into habitual thought patterns as soon as things begin heading in the direction of normal.
What is “normal”?
Being normal means conforming to a type, standard, or regular pattern. It refers to the usual, average, typical, or expected condition. In essence, “normal” is what we get used to, our expectation of the way things are or should be. But notice, nothing in the definition says that normal means the only or the best way.
As we navigate life in a world shaped by COVID-19, we are experiencing an intense disruption of what used to be considered normal. This is the perfect time to ask ourselves if we want to go back to those previously-normal ways of being when this pandemic is over. We might—or we might not—but at least we should think about it rather than default mindlessly to how things were.
If you have an inkling that your answer is “no”—that there are aspects of your life that you do not want to return to—then this is your chance to set the stage for some rethinking,
Steps for Constructive Thinking….
1 Become aware.
Open your eyes and your mind. See what’s going on, even if you don’t like it. See how you are responding (or not) and don’t judge yourself. Feel what you feel, but don’t wallow in it.
Ask yourself questions to help you zero in on what you value. What do you miss? Why? What do you like better in your life now? How might you make the situation better in some small way? Now? In the future? Here’s a question to get you started…
2. Capture your insights in writing.
Make a list of your insights…so you remember them when the crisis is over. Without conscious attention, it’s too easy to lapse into previous patterns, losing sight of the new way you’d rather be.
It’s a human tendency to default to what we’re conditioned to consider normal. Examples from two recent interviews of people who were in major cities during and after life-changing events. Author Adam Gopnik has lived in New York for much of his adult life. When asked if he thought things would be different after the current crisis, he said that, based on his experience of 9/11, he guessed not. Apparently, after things settled down, people largely went back to life as before. The same happened after the SARS epidemic in Asia in the early 2000s, according to Mark Machin, President and CEO of the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, who lived in Asia at the time.
Obviously, then, change requires our conscious effort. And capturing your insights is the first small step you can take in the heat of the moment.
3. Get a sense of your “new normal.”
Create your “new normal” by being intentional about it. Imagine it. Feel it. Picture it. Give it a chance to become your expected state of affairs.
In our daily lives, we are not often intentional about our future. Businesses, on the other hand, often use formalized processes to spark creative thinking to keep the business thriving. One of these techniques is “assumption reversal.”
Assumption reversal was developed by Stephen Grossman, a creativity consultant… The purpose of this technique is to deliberately question your underlying assumptions about a problem to help spark new ideas for addressing it.
…By turning your assumptions on their head and creating a mirror image view, you can generate new ways of approaching problems and issues. …Your original assumptions are not necessarily wrong, but in reversing them you can generate new approaches. There is also the possibility that you may be harbouring false assumptions. If so, this technique will also help you to discover that this is the case and avoid the limitations that this can cause.
Assumptions become deeply entrenched, so much so that we are often unaware of the extent to which they dictate our actions and decisions. It takes deliberate effort—or a crisis like a pandemic—to put us in a frame of mind to reverse our assumptions.
If I were asked what could possibly be beneficial about the experience we’re having now, I would say it is the deep disruption of our assumptions about what is true, necessary, and constructive in our lives.
For further exploration about applying assumption reversal to everyday life, see this recent article from BBC News by Matthew Syed, British journalist, broadcaster, table tennis champion, and author of Rebel Ideas: the Power of Diverse Thinking. He writes, “Our world has changed immensely in the last few weeks but amid the upheaval and distress, there are reasons to believe we can emerge from the crisis with some human qualities enhanced.”
Think about it, talk about it…
In these days of physical distancing and staying home, there are a lot more telephone and video chats happening. After you’ve caught up on the news of how family and friends are doing, you might be looking for other topics of conversation. Talking about some of the philosophical issues that are coming up for you is a good way to increase your own perspective.
Conversation starters might be observations or questions such as…
I’ve been thinking about…
Since I’ve been home more, I’ve noticed that…
Do you find you have more time to think these days?
In the midst of all this, I’ve been surprised that…
After this is over, I think I’ll…
What will you no longer take for granted?
I have even found this time of upheaval an opening to talk about death and dying, which was the theme of my writing last year. If you have insights or conversation starters to share, or other comments about any of this, I’d love to hear from you.
If you missed it last week…
A free digital version of my book is available until April 20 as part of Smashwords’ Authors Give Back sale. Download your free copy using this link which takes you directly to my book page. Click on the orange button in the right-hand column that says “Buy with coupon.” It will take you to the cart and show a price of $0.00. You can download the book in whatever form you prefer (epub, mobi/Kindle, pdf, etc…)
It’s the end of the week in which life turned upside down where I live.
A couple days in, I was seized by an urge to bake. Every day since, I’ve had porridge with raisins and hot milk for breakfast. I have a no-knead bread recipe on my counter, waiting for the next baking urge to hit.
I imagine this activity arose from a desire to ground myself in the familiar and ordinary as an antidote to the extraordinary circumstances we find ourselves in.
Like nothing else…
“Extraordinary” almost seems too tame a word. Even those of us who’ve lived more than seventy years have never experienced anything like this.
It’s not that life has always been smooth and lovely. Lots of bad things have happened throughout history, and none of us has been completely untouched by the trials of being a human.
So what’s different this time?
Two things come to mind immediately:
There is no place to run. This is not happening to someone “over there” to whom we can send money and sympathy. It is affecting all of us directly, in every way imaginable.
It has shaken our foundations. We have discovered that most of what we’ve taken for granted is actually not secure. What could demonstrate this more graphically than gigantic systems being brought to their knees by a microorganism?
What good is a crisis if it doesn’t prompt us to revisit and rethink our assumptions about life?
In recent days, I’ve found myself thinking back to things I wrote in Conscious Spending, Conscious Life. And so, I’m offering the digital version of my book free until April 20, as part of Smashwords’ Authors Give Back sale.
Download your free copy using this link which takes you directly to my book page. Click on the orange button in the right-hand column that says “Buy with coupon.” It will take you to the cart and show a price of $0.00. You can download the book in whatever form you prefer conscious(epub, mobi/Kindle, pdf, etc…)
And what about you…
What have you noticed about your response? What are you thinking? What are you craving? I’d love to hear from you…
*** Time for this post? Reading… 5 minutes. Listening… 28 minutes.
In North America, we have a bad impression of aging. Most of us would like to avoid it. Since that isn’t possible, we tend to ignore the subject as much as we can.
And really, who would want to get old, considering that the cultural messages are largely disparaging and dismissive. We are generally seen as failing adults, rather than people with something to contribute.
Where can we find a better vision of aging?
I was inspired by an interview I heard a few days ago on CBC’s “Tapestry.” Geriatric psychiatrist Dr. Marc Agronin has written a book which is invites us to stop thinking of aging as an “implacable enemy and start seeing it as a developmental force for enhancing well-being, meaning, and longevity.” A summary of The End of Old Age goes on to say:
…the focus is squarely on: “So what does this mean for me and my family?” In the final part of the book, Dr. Agronin provides simple but revealing charts that you can fill out to identify, develop, and optimize your unique age-given strengths.
It’s nothing short of an action plan to help you age better by improving how you value the aging process, guide yourself through stress, and find ways to creatively address change for the best possible experience and outcome.
Dr. Agronin is an expert in Alzheimer’s disease and other geriatric mental health issues, and runs both a memory center and one of Florida’s largest Alzheimer’s clinical research programs. He is the author of nine books and hundreds of articles, has been published in the New York Times, and writes regular blogs on aging and retirement issues for the Wall Street Journal.
In the interview, he said that if we celebrated when people enter older stages of life, there would be a really profound shift in the way society thinks about aging. Instead of dreading it, we would look forward to it.
Dr. Agronin has plenty of experience with older people since his average patient is 90 years of age. He does not deny the challenges they face. But I was struck by how he’s able to both acknowledge the downsides of aging and yet still see that aging has the potential to be about growth, change, and even strength.
Strength is not something we typically associate with aging. I think that’s because we have a narrow view that defines strength as only physical robustness. Yet, Dr. Agronin says he has seen people who are both frail and vital at the same time. Their strength, he says, is in their wisdom, purpose, and creativity—qualities that grow and deepen with age.
For a longer presentation that develops Dr. Agronin’s ideas about the five aspects of wisdom, among other things, go here.
There’s a lot that begs for further exploration. Next week we’ll consider the intriguing notion that age might be just a state of mind.