My Top 5 Things to Keep the Mind Calm and Steady

A very warm hello to you,

Even for the most grounded among us, there are moments when fear and anxiety breaks through. What if…..scenarios can spark a cascade of stressful internal images can alight hard to resist high-speed fear response in our minds and bodies. Our brains, so cleverly designed to ensure survival, want to rush into the future and make lists of potential dangers, then create contingency plans for as many of the imagined scenarios as possible. To be prepared is safety, to be a step ahead is survival. But what if ‘the enemy’ is invisible, indiscriminating and unpredictable? ‘It does my head in’ a friend sighed recently. No wonder we head to the supermarkets, clear out the shelves only to pile up the goods we acquired in our homes in an attempt to create a fortress against the danger.

But not surprisingly these measures don’t really calm our fears and worries. More than anything, that’s an inside job. My five top things to keep my mind calm and steady at the moment are:
1. Meditation and visualisation.
2. Breath practice and qigong (I’ve been doing this lung strengthening practice every day:
3. Being in nature and hiking, as to why I offer this poem.:
Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you.
If you leave it, you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you.
 David Wagoner (1999)
4. Maintaining social connection: Historically our safety has come from being part of a tribe, a community and a family but in times like these, when danger could slumber within our partners, kids, parents or friends, the person we’ve just passed in the street or the one who is standing a bit too close behind us in the checkout line, not even nestling in our homes feels like true protection. As a community, by and large, we have done very well to heed the advice for ‘social distancing’ in service of caretaking our own health and the health of others. The terminology is tricky, though. One definition by Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the word ‘social’ as marked by or passed in pleasant companionship with friends or associates. Isn’t this what we need more than ever in a time of crisis, pleasant companionship? Perhaps what we really mean is physical distancing, creating enough space to stop infection and save lives. Let’s not forgo companionship, connection and conversation but rather let’s become creative in how we do this. This evening, for example, I will have a Zoom picnic with a bunch of friends; we all cook in our own homes then meet on Zoom to chat while having dinner. There are so many online options now, from Zumba classes to book clubs to AA meetings. Participating in life via online options is not a forever solution but it’ll do for now. It may even lead to new discoveries, new connections and an expanding of our horizon.

5. Safeguarding my mind: The information we receive changes every day. What seemed a fact yesterday is discarded today. Opinions are offered as facts only to be disagreed with by others who also consider their opinion fact. The 24/7 news cycle leaves no space for us to catch our breath. To maintain a clear mind I seek the necessary information from reputable sources and base my decisions on these. The rest I let be. I limit input from media,  whether radio, TV or the net and don’t get caught up in doomsday predictions. The truth is (in my opinion) that we don’t know how exactly this is going to go. But what we do know is that as humans we are such a resilient and resourceful bunch so let’s trust in our ability to make good decisions, stick together (while remaining at a safe physical distance) and take really good care of our hearts, minds and bodies.
Stay well