Well, here we are in 2021. Barely a week into the year, we have a coup, the virus still rages, it is January and visiting family means we brace ourselves into engaging in cold weather activities.
Life feels undone and this unraveling feels like it stretches way into the unforeseeable future.
Feeling all the things in the current atmosphere; rage, anger, fear and mostly, enormous grief.
These land in my body. The rage and anger have a charge and activation, I feel my blood pressure rising. Fear numbs me and grief lands like stones, heavy and seemingly immovable.
Recognizing that my body is responding to these challenges with the freeze/flight and fight response, I seek to redirect, reintegrate my central nervous system, to engage in practices that build resiliency.
This is what I want to share with you right now in the hopes that you may be able to support yourself with fierce kindness and compassion.
Making lists, putting things in order, lined up on a page, whether it is a journal or typing here in a document gives me a sense of having purpose, agency and choice.
So, I decided to make a list of things to share with you all that give me comfort, provide nourishment and restore me to some semblance of wellness when life comes undone.
1. Breathing. Slowing down the inhalation and increasing the length of the exhalation. Keeping my eyes open and fixed on the turquoise curtains that have natural light streaming through them. Do this in a space where you have natural light and colors that you are drawn towards.
2. Placing a hand on my heart and on my belly. Rubbing here in small circles. Rubbing my hands slowly on my thighs. Giving myself gentle compressions with my hands crossed over my chest on my arms. Rocking back and forth, side to side with my arms around my heart. This feels like I am tapping into an ancient, primal manner of self soothing.
3. Staying close to the Earth. I have been living on my yoga mat and meditation chair all week with blankets. Lying on my belly, heart beat connecting to the Earth, breathing in out out slowly and deeply. Slow stretches with most of my body on the ground. Forward folds, keeping my hands and feet on the earth, letting the breath rise up through my hands and spine and release down my legs, back to the Earth.
4. Creating Rituals of Joy. For me, one of these is found in tea, in a mug of clay, thrown on a potter’s wheel by a dear friend, the perfectly round shape fitting my hands to encircle round, warm to the touch, the wide mouth allowing the aroma of tea to waft freely. Tea time is sacred when I name it to be so.
5. Get Outside. Yes, I live in southwest Pa and it is January. However, small doses of being near trees, birds, walking my small enthusiastic dog, wearing warm boots, and wrapped in layers, energizes and uplifts the weariness of these times.
6.Make soup. This is also a Ritual of Joy. Listen to music while you chop and sing and chop and sing. Simmer this loveliness until your home space is anointed with the scent of nourishment. Eat slowly and mindfully, savoring each spoonful.
7. Wear soft pants. Choose lovely socks. Adorn yourself in colors that feed your soul. I have a kinesthetic sensibility around the merging of fabric, texture, and color. I am a knitter and if I can wrap myself into a garment that I have hand knit, I feel cared for and loved. I started knitting a wrap in a fingering weight, variegated yarn at the beginning of COVID. I can wrap that around me three times. I also knit a cowl with scrap fingering weight yarn. It’s many colors and textures are a visual and felt sense delight.
8. In these times, choose your company wisely. If at all possible, spend time (socially distant or virtually) with people who affirm that which is decent/true/compassionate/wise about life. Discernment is the practice of leaning into the felt sense, the “gut feeling” in your body about where to spend your precious life energy in these trying times.
9. Reading books and watching smart comedy are essentials to me. They allow a healthy check out from the intensity of the times. Books have been a literal anchor and saving grace in my life. To me, at least the books that I read continue to open doors into worlds that in turn, open my heart and mind. Curiosity is healing, as it takes outside the entrenched world of uncertainty into the world of possibility.
10. Activism is one of my love languages. I am not suggesting any of the above as a means to avoid reality and be completely disengaged. Too many spiritual practitioners are caught up in bypass, thinking and acting as if we can pray or meditate and this alone is enough to address injustice. The truth is that it is both. We need prayer and meditation, practices of renewal and restoration to ground, nourish and sustain us and we need to do this work of dismantling oppression right now, in ways that make sense to us to Embody Justice.
I offer this list as an imperfect being who feels all the things I feel because I care deeply about humanity. I care about doing what is in my capacity to build a more equitable, just world where all beings have access to essential resources to thrive, can freely and safely navigate free from harm and live in peace.
So please, Take really good care of yourself.
Love and nurture, renew and restore.
We are in this for the long game. We need to embody what we are seeking to build.