Just as I was about to start writing, I cut my finger. Dang! Another unexpected opportunity to do something differently. So I recorded my thoughts instead and found a new way to write my blog.
In this extraordinary time, every moment offers us a choice: We can put our attention on what we cannot control, and experience fear, frustration, isolation, or powerlessness. Or we can Pause, feel whatever arises, shift our mindset, and create new connections – starting with ourselves, and then extend out to our communities. We have the power to change our brain – to literally create new neuro connections and… global connections!
When we open ourselves in this way, miracles occur.
For instance, two weeks ago I decided to reframe Self-Quarantine as Self-Retreat. Without knowing it, I set an intention that is helping me navigate through life with COVID-19. Now I’m dedicating the time I used to spend driving around and doing to BEING: I meditate at least twice a day, practice the power of pause when a difficult feeling arises, do my best to do things differently, and stay connected with my community.
Most of the time I feel a deep sense of peace, joy, and even excitement.
And then…. I hit another fear patch. You know, when you touch something you shouldn’t and forget to wash your hands, get too close to someone who is coughing, or hear of another person who has lost their job. Or I start to feel restless and lonely.
That moment is an opportunity to make a choice. You can fall into panic and fear or……..PAUSE, breathe, come back to yourself and realize that in this moment you’re okay. And when we’re okay, we can look up and catch the eyes of that person who coughed and over distance, connect with a smile.
Being the teacher that I am, I’m sharing my experiences with others… A client in Italy just told me that calling her situation a retreat has made it possible for her to be happy and have the healthiest relationship she’s ever had, even while living in very close quarters.
So how do we do this?
We need to begin with ourselves, to shift from fear-based thinking to creative, collaborative thinking.
Here’s a little story to illustrate….
Three weeks ago, just before the outbreak, I met the founders of the Center for Collaborative Awareness. Everything they told me then absolutely applies to our situation now. Talk about miraculous synchronicity! They have discovered that when our brain goes into Problem/Solution Mode, it contracts in fear. Fear suppresses our immune response, and our ability to see opportunities for growth. When we shift our brain into Connected Mode, the mind relaxes allowing us to expand, create new possibilities, and connect with others! Plus when we’re in connected brain, we boost our immune system.
Here are a few simple steps you can take to make the shift:
Develop a mindfulness meditation practice.
Sitting with your thoughts is the absolute best way I know to catch them before they take over and spiral you into fear. And if you cannot sit still, develop a walking meditation practice. Here are a few resources to get you started:
Join an online meditation community. One of my favs is InsightLA. I am in a weekly meditation sangha that meets every morning at 7:30 am on ZOOM!
Check out my book: The Power of Pause: simple meditations for complicated lives. Now available as a downloadable eBook, it offers writings and experiential exercises you can practice on your own, at any moment, to help you move from fear back into connection. Included is an MP3 recording in my voice to guide you through each exercise. Some of the meditations can be practiced before you get out of bed, some while sitting in front of your computer, and others while you move through your day.
Every day do something different!
This may look like walking down a different street, hiking on a different trail, calling people you haven’t spoken with for a while, rummaging through your closet for clothes you forgot about, and completely changing your routine. In other words, as “Safe at Home” is upending your usual routine, go with it!
Explore what’s available online.
This is an amazing time to go virtual. Much of what you are used to doing in person is now available live online on video platforms. I invite you to visit the websites of your favorite communities; chances are they are already setting up virtual meetings.
Did you know that being in nature, and this unusually clean LA air, boosts your immunity and helps fight the virus? Hike, walk, bicycle and get some sun, the best natural source of Vitamin D.
Whenever I go out, I smile and wave at everyone. It makes me feel good, and for all I know, they may be feeling a lot more isolated than I am.
Thank everyone who is out there working on the front lines, so we can keep our lives running safely and remarkably smoothly. I l like to include all the folks delivering our mail and packages, the trash collectors, gardeners and maintenance people, people making repairs, restaurant workers preparing food for delivery, and everyone stocking the shelves in our grocery stores. Most of all, PLEASE send gratitude to all the nurses, doctors and health care providers who are risking their lives to treat people with the virus.
Share Resources that are encouraging and uplifting, as well as information that is accurate and constantly updated to help us stay healthy.
Stay open, stay confident, and contact me if you need support. Let’s all lift ourselves up together and find a way to turn a catastrophic situation into a blessing.