Should to Able
Dear Loved Ones,
How are you all this week? Another week where the world is divided with those who have to go out to work, (and a huge bow of gratitude to each of you!), those who have to stay home, and those who have no homes.
This past week opened up another realization for me. Last Thursday I had a fairly open day, and after morning prayers took Gibbs out for his walk. It was a pretty day, sunny and fairly warm. We set off, across the road, through the monastery grounds, and after about 15 minutes of walking I suddenly realized I wasn’t really walking… I was marching. Head down, almost stomping, Gibbs staying right by my back leg in case he got left behind. I stopped and stood still. I looked around and felt the sun on my face. I felt the ground under my feet. And I asked what the rush was. The answer that came was silence. No rush. No need to stomp. No need to hurry. The day had an appointment later and a meeting that evening, and I have ongoing plans for a garage repaint and some new garden beds. But there really was nothing to be marching for! So I slowed way down. Looked and soaked in the morning. Gibbs felt like he could go and sniff and explore and run ahead and stay behind and catch up, and my whole body just breathed.
This way of being on edge, of the adrenaline pumping at the thought of threat, the nervousness and fear that is out in the world (especially for us intuitives who pick these energies up easily), reminded me of the time I spent in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. I was there for a semester staying in a community center in the French Quarter, helping to host and organize teams that came in and working in the community center. One thing that struck me from that time was how many were walking around with what they called Katrina Brain. The trauma of living through the hurricane, of seeing the devastation to lives and homes, of loosing so much, the daily reminders of the marked homes, and the ongoing stories that emerged changed the make up in people’s brain centers. People were not sleeping well, sometimes having flashbacks, were depressed and on edge and anxious. Short term memory was affected and alcohol and drug addiction increased. The past trauma was never far from people’s minds as they waited for the next hurricane to hit.
For many of us, the impact of this pandemic has not been personal yet. Those of us outside of the epicenters can feel the impact from a distance. But the reality we see from New York, Detroit, Louisiana and other cities where it has taken over affect us deeply. The constant threat and reminders we see affect us on a visceral level. Many of us have said we are struggling to sleep, having flashbacks to past traumas, feeling less productive even when there should be more time. The trauma can manifest in many ways, including bigger mood swings, the need to do, the frustration of not being focused to do.
And this is what my marching that morning was showing me….. I was acting in trauma mode. There was an energy within me that felt rushed and disconnected, an adrenaline running through me that was unnecessary. When we follow this unconsciously though, our whole being is negatively affected. Our immune system is compromised; our thinking, already scattered, struggles to focus; our bodies move in the flight or fight response, on edge and ready to protect. And all of this is a normal response to what is happening around us. YET, it is not the helpful response. I think what we need now, more than ever (for those of us not on the front lines right now), is to slow down. To breathe. To re-center on the truth that is in front of us at this moment. To show ourselves kindness, especially when it comes to things like brain focus. And to show this to our kids too. How can we tell ourselves it’s ok? We are doing what we need to do, sheltering in place, taking the precautions we need to. This may be enough to keep the virus at bay. But there is nothing more we can do. How can we settle into the reality and way of life that we need to be in right now, without it setting all our trauma responses off? How can we relax into this time with compassion and gentleness? How can we grieve what we have to let go (trips, face to face time with friends, loved ones getting sick, and for many of us financial income), and embrace this time for what it is. It’s not a time to march through, but a time to live into.
Many of us have a different time schedule, more space in some ways and less in others. We are spending more time in our homes, some alone and some with family members or housemates. We are probably cooking home cooked meals more. What is your organic schedule now? What does your body need? Your child’s body need? How can you allow your system to settle rather than being on high alert marching mode? How can you be compassionate if you are less focused or more forgetful than normal… and if those around you are too?
For me, I return to the things that bring me life as much as I am able. Nature, gardening, creating, praying, feeling the sun on my face in the mornings, or the rain falling on my skin. Finding things to laugh at…. And allowing myself to laugh out loud. And trying to catch the ‘should’ voice, replacing it with “Today I am able to…..”
I came across a poem the other day that I have returned to several times. It was written by an eco-therapist, James A. Pearson, in response to Covid. I have found it helpful… maybe you will too!
Look how this wilderness
swept in around us--
while we slept,
while we paid the rent,
while we ordered another round.
By the time we looked up
all our paths were gone. The forest
presses in on all sides,
every direction an equal mystery
of tangle and dark.
Breathe down into
your wild body,
into its sudden alertness,
its burning need to keep you safe.
There are parts of you that know
how to stand still in this place,
parts of you that will know
which step to take.
What are you finding helpful these days? What step are you being invited to take?
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