Setting Your Intention for 2021

Desire and Intention

Two very different energies.

We all have desire

It flows up through us as natural as breathing

Inherent in desire alone is attachment to results

Future thinking

Noticing lack in the present

Maybe even a ‘grasping’ for the wished

Intention is a present energy

Right here right now

With intention

Comes powerful manifestation

When we hold an intention with the desire

We know how we would like the end result to be

Yet allow the manifestation to happen

Without our interference

Or insistence that it unfold a certain way

It cannot help but come to fruition

Quite possibly in a different

Even more glorious form

Than we could have ever imagined

So, set an intention

Cradle it within a Sacred Container

Embraced with uncertainty

And let it go

It is your job to do just what is before you

What is giving you inspiration

Passion and joy

It is not your job to resist what is

What is—is perfect

Instructions on Setting Your Intentions for this coming year:

I know this was an unusual, difficult year, but it also presented unique opportunities to learn more about ourselves and others, and perhaps better define what we want.

Do this alone or with a group of trusted and supportive friends. Have three sheets,

1)     One for recapitulation of regrets & errors, self-sabotaging thinking etc,

2)     One for achievements, good self awareness, personal growth, aha’s, etc. for  2020

3)     One for your 2020 year-end intended self attributes, accomplishments and goals

First begin with recapitulation.

What is recapitulation? Playing your year from beginning to end in fast forward without any judgment. Simply walk through the big moments of your year like you were viewing it through a video camera. Don’t linger on any particular moment, and don’t begin evaluating it. Just keep moving through each moment. By performing this ritual right at the end of any year, you can gain a greater understanding of who you are and what you do. Recapitulation can help you process all the words, thoughts, and deeds you experienced over the course of the last year. It is a good nightly practice too. After practicing recapitulation, as you become a bit lighter, you will begin to become aware of those behaviors that are nourishing and those that no longer serve you. You will also become more aware of your ripple . . . all the faces, conversations, and interactions you have experienced throughout the day.

When we are doing the exercises be gentle with yourself.

Build a safe container here of self acceptance, with no judgment

Only share if it is comfortable

Write down positive and negative aspects of last year.

Share some of your regrets, accomplishments and goals.

What to do with them going forward?

For the negative ones, forgive and release them, within the body and without. As you do a body scan on each regret, sense where there might be tightness or an ache associated with that memory. See that lift out of the body as it is processed.  Then you can do some type of final act, such as burning that list when you get home, or have a ceremonial burial.

And celebrate accomplishments, making certificate, giving yourself a fine dinner, awarding yourself a gift, etc.

Goal setting, Intending

Create some accountability through partnership. It is important to state out loud and in front of a supportive person or persons, (or a mirror). Do not share with anyone who you feel would have a  dampening effect on your passion, be in any way unsupportive or critical. If this happens, realize that they have no power over you. Use your image of your archetype, mentor, or role model.

Exercise: who are you to be at the end of 2021?

Describe in detail YOU at the end of 2021.

How are you different?

What are you doing?

How do others see you now?

What is your environment like?

Who are you surrounded by?

When you are done with this exercise, meditate to seal this intention

 

Photo by LinkedIn Sales Navigator on Unsplash

Our Renaissance Plan for 2021

First of all, please allow me to be redundant by including the writing in the second section that I sent to our financial community. I know some of you receive both newsletters.

It has been a tough year for most of us so I wanted to dig deep within, and suggest you do also, to come up with a Renaissance Plan for the coming year.

Did you know in the mid-1300s there was a global pandemic of bubonic plague? It was devastating, and no one knew how to treat the sick. It killed an estimated 35 million people and up to 60 percent of those infected died. What is interesting is in the next few centuries there was a rebirth, or renaissance of arts and science unlike any other period in history.

When we look at calamities and crises, we can often find a re-awakening, new innovations, and changes that evolve us up the levels of consciousness. I’d like to move this along for myself and those around me. May we all do it together?

Our community is full of talent, awareness, light and gifts of all types; and all of these are needed. May you be a bright hope to others—a beacon: strong and stable, even when you don’t feel like you have anything to offer. Just by being yourself, the way you were made, you add something to the whole that only you can. Hold space for hope and understanding.

Remember you have access to unlimited spiritual ‘energy’, powerful love. As I wrote in the ‘Light of Grace, Journeys of an Angel’, you’re always supported by unseen forces. We lose touch with this when we stay in our heads with worry, anxiety, fear or anger. All the things we teach in Yoga and Ayurveda are designed to help us reconnect.

Shoot me an email if you need encouragement. Let’s be there for each other and make 2021 a healing and joyful year.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah, and Happy Holidays

Peace, Love and Wellbeing,

Kasey Claytor

___________________________________________

It has been a tough year for most of us, and for some it’s been almost unbearable. We feel for everyone who has suffered this year, those near and far.

Now we are on the verge of a new year, and perhaps a good start over. We’ve sure had plenty to complain about.

In 2021 let’s turn that around. Let’s shift toward noticing what around us is good; things and experiences to be grateful for; who is in our lives, the comforts we have, the fresh air we breathe, the smiles, the market and economic recovery, and hope. We all have reasons to feel gratitude. We can’t feel gratitude while complaining!

Let’s bring to the forefront the virtues we hold to be important, such as integrity, compassion, courage, generosity, patience, modesty, and honesty.

And most importantly, the love we have between all of us, the most powerful thing we have that nothing can destroy.

We wish you a peaceful and meaningful holiday season.

Osprey Money Management

 

 

 

 

Signs we are blocking our own Prosperity

There are books a plenty on how to create prosperity. Most focus on what you can do to become more financially successful. But what if you are unconsciously thwarting these efforts? What if you don’t see these telltale signs? I call this financial clutter. The first chapter of a book I am writing on prosperity is about elimination. What behaviors, beliefs and habits might you eliminate?  Here are a few for you to think about.
1) Someone pays you with a check and you drive around with it in your purse or wallet for days or weeks before depositing it.
2) Someone tells you about a job opportunity for more money and you immediately disregard it before even considering it.
3) You find yourself avoiding learning the basics of financial wellbeing.
4) You feel envious toward others who have acquired more than you.
5) You keep putting off that degree or certification that you know will up your financial security.
6) You feel desiring money is somehow wrong or not spiritual.
7) You give or loan money to friends or relatives that you really can’t afford to.
8) You make emotional decisions regarding your investments instead of sticking to a solid plan.
9) You dip into your retirement accounts unnecessarily.
10) You have multiple small (orphan) accounts spread far and wide and don’t keep up with them.
Money by itself is inert. It is symbolic of goods and services, yes, but it also can be symbolic of love, or withholding of love, success, power, competence, status, etc. Therefore, can be an emotional topic. We can peel away the emotions from it to see it for what it is. A simple tool that works simply for us.
Most of us feel good about helping others and making a significant contribution in the world. And we can do that in many non-financial ways. Having enough money and then some enables us to be generous, to make a difference in new ways and that is fulfilling.

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Let Your Life Flow Through You

What do you do when it seems as though the world is imploding? When all around you the scaffolding of your life that held your assumptions and stability seem to be slipping out from under you?
    Realize it was never there in the first place. Every day, when we awaken, we create our lives anew. When things around us fail it doesn’t mean we failed. The illusion is always shifting.
Nothing can stay the same. The very nature of reality is a continuous evolution.
     We all have a niche on something we do, are, create, or provide. We all are inspired when we feel passionate. With all that is going on, I see many of us losing touch with that passion.
    Passion is integral to a fulfilling life; it’s a natural expression of wellbeing.
    As I wrote about a few weeks ago, a friend asked me, “What are you excited about?”. Just posing that question led to more inquiries for myself. It shifted my whole mindset from the daily issues and problems to, Yeah, what am I going to create the rest of this year? And next year? Where do I want to be? How do I want to be? What do I really want?
    Once you begin this questioning you might feel blocked. It may have been so long since you stopped to ask yourself these questions. If so, don’t worry if answers don’t come right away. Ask, then sit gently, quietly, with eyes closed. Let it simmer in the depths of your being. Then let it go.
    It won’t be long before ideas begin to appear.
    Did you know more millionaires were made during the depression era than ever had before? More opportunities arose with cheaper labor and costs. Entrepreneurial spirit grew from need. And market needs change with the political, economic, and cultural changes. In our case, now with the pandemic, we have growing needs for services and products that provide ways to get together virtually, safe delivery of food and supplies, safe delivery of health care, education, entertainment, physical fitness, organizational needs, finances, career planning, life coaching and so on. Most needs can be met with adapting to the changing situations.
    Keep asking. When you pick up the mantle of your dreams, your life becomes strong and clear.
    You’ve got to let your life flow through you.
Andrew Neel, Unsplash

When my son was diagnosed with Frontotemporal Degeneration (FTD)

When it first sunk in

This unbelievable condition

My world shifted as much as

being suddenly blinded

I could not see the world as it had been

It was a new scary place

I didn’t belong here

Lost in a land of constant discomfort

This past year I’ve been fighting reality on this planet, wanting my old life back where I didn’t need to worry daily about a family member’s struggles, activities or condition. This constant worry was a form of prison in which I thought I may never figure out how to escape. I’d have moments—periods of time I felt ‘normal’ again, but it was temporary. This worry was so large that every other worry was morphed to an inconsequentially small one.

But in my windows of sanity I would take small moments to research, ponder and meditate, and then a bit more moments in between my feelings of overwhelming angst, and I finally began to see slivers of light.

I found some poignant posts in a Facebook support group, but a large amount of the posts would express how bad it is, how the disease is horrible, how their loved one is gone from them, and many of the loved ones are suffering with irritability, depression and anger. Most agree it is really tough.

Right now, my son is usually well, loves attention, and still has moments of clarity. His has been a slow onset of the last few years, with a diagnosis a year and a half ago. He wasn’t always though. He would get down, irritable, and stubborn. That was before we learned a different way to be around him.

Think of his perspective. Think of the courage it takes to wake every day and have the knowledge you are deficient. You are forgetful. There is something wrong with your brain. But you don’t understand why. It’s just there and feels bad. But you arise and enter the day, maybe not knowing or understanding what it may hold. That’s courage. People may ask you questions that you can’t answer. Or tell you you’ve done something wrong, or news that’s depressing, yet you can’t come up with words to let others know how that makes you feel. But you still go about your day as best you can.

I am learning new care giving skills. By no means am I perfect, but little by little I am changing my behavior to elicit wellbeing in my son.

The straight forward, modern treatment has been to keep the patient clean, well-fed, happy and occupied, if possible. For any difficult behavior that prevents this, the solution is often trying various pharmaceuticals. I’m not denying that sometimes it is warranted, especially when the patient is presenting a danger to himself or others. But I am often surprised how many drugs some of these patients are on. Some have horrendous side-effects.

I am also surprised how some psychiatrists think making these patients ‘face reality’, even though they will forget over and over, is helpful. I just read a post from a son whose mother is in a facility and keeps asking to go home. Her psychiatrist told the son she needs to be told the house is sold. Imagine her hurt every time she hears this, needing to be told this over and over. Instead, she could be told, oh, the house had a plumbing accident, it is such a big mess, it isn’t livable right now. She could accept this and have a sense of wellbeing.

This idea came from a new method for caregivers called Contented Dementia and was developed by an intuitive woman, Penny, who noticed her own mother with dementia had a sense of wellbeing when she was with her, but Mom was very difficult and irritated when she was with Dad. Her husband was a doctor and didn’t want to accept that his wife had dementia. He badgered her with questions and insisted she could remember if she really tried. He tried to control her.

Conversely, when with Penny, Penny would study her mom’s reactions and feelings, attempting to view things from her perspective. For example, when her mom was placed in an assisted living cottage, when Penny visited, she would tell her mom when she had to go home. And every time it would make her mom cry terribly. She discovered it was the word ‘home’. Her mother wanted to go home too. When Penny switched to, “I have to go pick up some things at the store and I will be back tomorrow, is there anything that you would like me to bring you?”

Her mother accepted this easily. No more tears!

There is a lot more in this new method, but the basis of it is this: Yes, the memory is affected, (and personality in FTD) but the person’s emotions are still felt 100%. Penny discovered that she could help patients tap into their wellbeing when she understood the emotions they were experiencing. Even someone with deficient memory can feel contented.

With my son, I try not to ask him a battery of questions, but rather poke around the topic with statements. He doesn’t feel pressured to try to come up with an answer, which, if the answer isn’t available to him, can make him feel like he failed.

In the past I’d ask him, “What did you have for lunch?” and he would look blankly at me while he searched in his mind for the information. Usually it wouldn’t come and his face would fall.

When someone with dementia feels good about himself, more information is available. The stress is gone. If I say while looking in the fridge, “Boy you have lots of great meals to choose from. I’ll bet you’re full.” Often, miraculously, he’ll respond, telling me what he had. I wasn’t demanding he remember anything. Out of feeling good the memory was offered up.

And getting him to do his chores (getting him to be physically active is good for him) was really difficult before. Now, not so much. Just this morning I saw some limbs laying in the yard, and I said, “It’s a good time to take these branches down to a pile on the road. I think the truck is coming today. I could use some help.”

He popped right up to help. In the past I would’ve asked him “Will you pick up the fronds and limbs in the yard and get them down to the road today?” He’d say yes, he’d do it, and then it would never get done.

I’ve also read on support groups family members saying, “My loved one isn’t there anymore.” But somewhere deep inside they are still there; pay attention to the emotions, if they are able to still emote. If not, you need to seek even deeper, until you can feel the essence of that person, because, I believe, their soul is still there, still holding that body in perfect, infinite love.

Create Peace in all the Division

 

Statue of Gandhi in London

 

Much like most of you I have friends and family members who cover the spectrum of beliefs and ideologies. Intelligent people I know and respect who think so differently from each other on so many topics: politically, on health, fiscally, socially and more. I watch and hear the confusion people are feeling trying to understand this wide diversity among people close to us.

Look how confusing it is in our world today.

  • We have multiple information outlets with experts of prestigious backgrounds voicing disparate ‘truths’ on whatever topic you pick, from what drugs are effective, to when to open schools, and whether to trust the safety of wearing masks and more, just on the virus alone!
  • A continuous stream of ‘breaking’, alarming news.
  • Social media rife with torrents of angry rants, condemnation of others, as well as horrific stories of unimaginable atrocities to people, children and animals.
  • Widely diverse news stories showing the information from an unbiased view (where?) all the way to extreme bias.
  • An increasing number of conspiracy theorists gaining in popularity among all demographics
  • Increasing violence in the streets of large cities and very little coverage of it on mainstream media.

And no one takes responsibility for this. We hear the cry; it is the evil media’s fault; they are the villain here. It is the politician’s fault; no, the ‘other party’s’ fault. You can find stories to validate whatever it is you are inclined to believe. Then you can feel justified in your judgments, your opinions, and ‘know’ you are right and others are wrong. Even the pandemic, of which we are in the middle of, is worse, or not nearly as bad, as the different sources say.

Let’s stop for a moment and look at where our judgments come from. In our modern world we have this gigantic compilation of all the egoic thoughts represented on the internet. Like a global brain, mass consciousness is suspended in the Ethernet, holding all good, bad and indifferent indiscriminately.

We don’t know how to handle all of this information overload. We spent a few million years living in small clans, knowing an infinitesimal bit about the greater world around us. We went on instinct, our guts, and our emotions, observing others near us, understanding what kept us safe, and had to stay focused on finding food and surviving.

Now most of us don’t need to worry about getting enough food, or a safe place to sleep. With our time we can spend it coming up with new ways to live and entertain ourselves day after day after day.

So, where are we now? We work toward what constitutes a good life and how we want to be, and we gather with those who agree with us, but find many in our sphere don’t, and low and behold we find millions of others disagree. Then others sometimes hold back on discussing topics, or quietly separate from us, or they may argue with us, or even get enraged!

The truth is we all are creating our own individual worlds from our own consciousness. Our own minds. We absorb—consume is a better word—all the information coming into our senses. We react with a combination of judgements, reactions and ensuing emotions. We base all our assumptions and beliefs on our history. Our ego is like an operating system that has learned about the world since our birth. This is where our judgments come from.

We couldn’t survive without it.

But almost all of our suffering is caused by the ego. Our thoughts about a situation, and our feeling that we are powerless to fix it, drop a blinder in front of us, blocking a way out of the suffering. We don’t see the suffering coming from inside our minds but blame everything outside of us. We become open to explanations served by conspiracy theories.  We reinforce this suffering by talking to our friends about how terrible everything is. We all do this to some extent, and it is so hard not to. Yet it holds us away from our sense of inner peace.

We can learn to ‘see’ the deeper reality below all of this created chaos by being anchored in the unchanging, omniscient, omnipresent source; use your own words here: God, The Unmanifest, Source. Let’s see how.

We have another ‘mind’ besides the ego; that is our higher consciousness. That part of us that nudges and whispers when we stop to look within; when we take a moment to listen, actually connecting to our source. Pause, be mindful, meditate, be present, these are all suggestions to hop beyond the judgmental mind’s suffering.

No matter what is going on in your own world right now—you may be experiencing difficulties or illness—in this moment, you are sitting there reading these words and you are OK. The sun will still rise tomorrow. All that really exists is this moment, right now. Stop burdening yourself with worrying about the whole world. It’s futile. Worrying about all the other people who think differently from you won’t change anything. Worrying about the newscaster who said something incorrect, the politician who said something awful, the latest numbers on the virus, the violence and natural disasters, will not help anything.

Create love in your heart. Find a way to seek to understand the hearts of others. That’s all. Then you are moving from ego to love. And as always, with enough people seeking love and understanding, we will change the world.

 

 

Resolving the Racial Divide and Racism

There are many terrific ideas being proposed to help our culture include more equality, from improving education, to assigning more mental health professionals to work with the police, and taking to the streets to bring awareness and express dissatisfaction. Most are old ideas. I’ve watched this struggle since I can remember; in the 1960s and 70s there was a similar upheaval for change and healing of the racial disparity. There was much talk and action to address it.  Yet here we are, circling back, realizing how our efforts have failed. Why?

One reason is our piecemeal approach, so many programs that affect only a few people. Or ideas like Head Start; an honest effort, but didn’t address the real problem. And equating throwing more money as a solution to problems. More food stamps, more welfare, more school lunches. While much of it is necessary, this still doesn’t address the cause. Legislating to stop discrimination is nice but doesn’t address the problem. Pulling down Confederate statues may help emotionally, but will never address the problem.

Just as a rising tide lifts all boats, lifting the entire society to become more aware, more conscious is the only real solution.

It is the only one that doesn’t continue to slap band aids on a cultural problem.  If we continue to be focused on the symptoms and not the cause, we will never get there. And it isn’t the easiest, but it is possible.

What we need to stop doing:

  • Stop ostracizing and punishing those who are acting out for or against changes. For using trigger words, for using hateful speech from all views. If they are acting out of ignorance and reflexive fear, they may not learn anything by being disregarded as human beings and not heard. This helps no one.
  • Stop mindlessly spending money on our problems. The lack of effectiveness and waste in government spending is disgraceful. We have a multitude of programs at every level of government with little to no progress to show.
  • Stop talking and look for positive actions.

 

What we need to start doing:

  • Send good communicators out into the communities. Mental health experts, compassionate conflict resolution experts, educators, and elected officials with the objective of listening, problem solving, and coming up with creative and thoughtful ideas to discover our commonalities and working on our communities together.
  • Develop a program that will be taught in all schools that includes conflict resolution, problem solving, stress management, and some type of mindful practice that allows inner reflection and growth in awareness. There are schools across the country doing this now, but they are few and far between.
  • Have everyone brainstorm to come up with a better plan to help the lowest socioeconomic sectors and finally stop the perpetuation of poverty generation to generation.
  • Prison reform. A thoughtful plan to bring the non-violent offenders into programs that increase their success in life through education, problem solving etc.

By raising awareness, or consciousness, in a significant number of people in society, systemic problems like racism will wane naturally because we grow in self-reflection, empathy, and broader perspectives. We will develop an ability to listen to diverse opinions without reacting negatively. With compassion and care for everyone, we will all rise.

Photo by Ehimetalor Akhere Unuabona on Unsplash

We Are All Brainwashed

Why are we so surprised when someone acts badly, horribly? There have always been people who do so. Why do we expect others to change and behave because we tell them to or think they should?

     When people we like say unfortunate things we excuse them, when people we disapprove of say unfortunate things we say, “See, see how awful that person is?”

     Our whole law and order system is based on the premise that we have no control over ourselves and will purposely do bad things if we are allowed to, but not if there is a law against it. Huh?

     We keep expecting military, police and others in the line of danger to control themselves, even after teaching them how to harm and kill others. Are we giving them skills to increase their insight, judgment, and self-control?

     Why do we hoard toilet paper? Why do selfless acts, people doing the ‘right’ thing, bring so much attention?

     There is so much going on, originating from our primitive past and evolution, to our states of awareness or consciousness. The great majority of us don’t get up and plan to do harmful things one day. We expect people to behave because most of us tend to follow the rules, use care and make decisions not to harm without even thinking about it.

     But we are emotional beings, and when we are tripped emotionally by fear, real or imagined, our primitive part of our brain, the reptilian brain, hijacks our rational, more evolved brain. When fear sets in and takes hold, our basic survival reflexes take over, and our thoughts go from reasonable to “I won’t have any toilet paper!”.  More seriously, when fearing our existence could be extinguished, the root of all fear.

     And we have the media and social sites stoking the flames over and over and over causing more brains to go into survival mode. It is like an inflammation of society. It is the old adage, what you pay attention to grows.

     What is the answer? What I have always maintained; enough of us having the intention to raise our consciousness, our awareness. We can learn how to subdue the primitive brain and not allow this knee-jerk reaction of fear.  There is a profound amount of research now to support the myriad benefits of conditioning our minds with meditation, yoga and other mindful practices, and understanding how to attain wellbeing, which includes health, happiness and prosperity. If enough of us do this it will raise the mass consciousness perhaps to the point where we will begin to see clearly the causes of these outbursts we see on the news, like the woman in the park who called the police on a black man just telling her to leash her dog, or more dire acts of violence such as the policeman who killed a black man in custody. It is more than prejudice, it is low consciousness, which doesn’t suppress a primitive response such as fear, apathy and other ignorant reactions that can lead to cruelty. (Noted, a black person seeing what happens to other black people when confronted by a bad policeman, will feel fear. To ask someone in this situation to not feel that way in this present day is ridiculous.)

     We are all brainwashed in that we all are prejudice. We grow up with our family of origin’s beliefs, our communities, our culture’s and the beliefs of those who we chose to be around, right or wrong. Then, we have layers added from the media, internet and Hollywood images. We seek out validation of our own opinions and surely, we find them. It is mostly unconscious.

     We think we are right and others who disagree with us are wrong. That is prejudice. All sides of an issue have varying degrees of validity. It takes maturity to see another’s viewpoint. To see their hurt behind their harmful words and actions. To see their fear in the violent acts. To see their desperation in their hateful speech or destructive actions. It isn’t easy.

     To be open-minded doesn’t come naturally; it takes intention and effort, it takes introspection.

     The miracle is how our society functions as good as it does most of the time. The great majority of police and military act with honor and conscientiousness. Most of the protests are peaceful and productive. Most drivers are driving carefully. Most people, given the opportunity, will not steal. Most people show kindness daily. And this isn’t because of our man-made laws, it is because of consciousness.

     When I saw a white policeman kneel beside the protesters, and another wrapping his arms around one, a lump formed in my throat. Then, I saw more police talking of the great need for real conversation between the black community and police departments. And I now see a small light emerging. Growth. Will it be fanned instead of more of the grief and anger? Will we now listen to each other and move to the next level of awareness with love and kindness?

My Seven Survival Tips

I just made room in a filing cabinet for about 15 pounds of files for my son’s care: finances, medical records, legal documents, disability insurance papers, health insurance, work records, address changes and bills. Very heavy both physically and emotionally as I’ve carried them back and forth from home to work, work to home, because I never knew when I’d need information that was in one of those folders. I’m in a window where I can put it all down for a time.

I’m writing to you today about this because now that I have the added stress of the Coronavirus, and trying to keep our family safe, it is more important than ever to stop and recognize how we are doing, find what works and what doesn’t to help us maintain good physical and mental health in rough times. Along with doing this for myself I wanted to share it with all of you. Believe me, when I write recommendations like this, they are very much for myself too!

My older son was diagnosed with Frontotemporal Degeneration, a mysterious disease that affects people, usually between 45 and 65. I know of one afflicted with it who is only 26. Unlike Alzheimer’s, it usually shows up with personality changes that can be so subtle that the affected person’s family, though confused by some behavior, may miss the severity of the onset. Memory is eventually affected and this disease includes dementia.

I tell you this because it has been extremely challenging, and out of necessity, I am finding I must embrace all the skills, practices, and knowledge I’ve learned from following my interests in health—physical and emotional—and spirituality. And I’d like share a few pointers and suggestions to find some relief yourself, especially if you feel overwhelmed, irritated, sad or depressed during this difficult time. Life can be hard enough just getting through normal times!

 

I don’t presume any of these ideas will bring you wonderful normalcy or complete relief, but every small thing you can do to take care of yourself is very important.

Here are my 7 suggestions, all of which I depend on at different times. I wouldn’t like to wonder where I’d be without these practices. I know I’d be more anxious, with deeper sadness, harder to get alone with, and less loving.

In brief:

  1. Be easy on yourself and take care of each other
  2. Create balance
  3. Taking care of your physical self
  4. Meditate
  5. Be in the moment
  6. Taking care emotionally/emotional intelligence
  7. Look to our experts

1) Be Easy on Yourself and Take care of each other

We might all be feeling more irritable, more anxious or sad. This makes it so easy for us to say things we don’t really mean to loved ones, make quick judgments without thinking, or pull away from others. Taking good care of ourselves enables us to be more patient and understanding with others, who are also feeling the stress. Best practice is to be very quick to forgive yourself as well as others, start over, release those judgmental thoughts, and be present. Find a trick or a mantra to remind yourself when things begin to bother you. One I use is “It doesn’t matter,”  Or Om Nama Shivaya. More on forgiveness in the section on emotional intelligence below.

When emotions grip you, find a moment to sit quietly and ask yourself where are you feeling this in your body? Your chest, gut, throat? Be present with the sensations without resisting them or repressing them. Give the feeling a label; I’m angry, I’m frustrated etc. They want acknowledgment!  They usually slowly dissipate after the feelings have been acknowledged. You may find yourself doing this several times and that is OK. That tightness, that ache, that pain, left unacknowledged will get louder in another form if it is pushed away, ignored or repressed.

And think kindness. First to yourself and then others.

2) Create Balance

Since most of us are home-bound we have a lot more time to see what needs to be done around the house; maybe we start some big home projects, or maybe we become more sloth-like and take a lot of naps! We need balance.

Balance in our rest/activity, sleep/wake, and balanced diet, as well as play and work.

When working on a project, on the computer, or chores, break it up with things you enjoy doing; reward yourself for each accomplished task.

A great reference I refer to is Ayurvedic recommendations. The premise of Ayurveda is balance itself, in all ways. So much of this body of knowledge is finding validation from modern science. That is, modern science is discovering the truths Ayurveda knew thousands of years ago.

According to Ayurveda there are three main doshas, or mind/body types, and everyone is a combination of these. I recommend going on the Banyan Botanicals website to take the quiz and see what your make-up is, and what suggestions for a balanced diet and daily plan is for your Dosha.

I covered the wake-sleep cycle in this article a few months ago. sleep/wake cycle,

3) Taking care of your Physical self

Walking is an excellent form of activity that is good for all body types. If you tend to be thin, you are most likely a Vata body type, and Hatha Yoga or some other slow, mindful yoga is best. If you are athletic, with good muscle formation, short spurts of more intense exercise are good. If you tend to be stocky and have good stamina you can do just about any exercise. Please refer to your health providers before changing your routine. You can also check more recommendations on the Banyan website once you learn your Dosha type.

Another wonderful practice to reduce stress is massage. The benefits are well documented: the mental relaxation, the flushing of toxins, boosting the immune system, and lymphatic drainage. Right now, we are unable to get massages from a masseur, but we can do it ourselves with a self-massage. I do this in about 5 minutes before jumping in the shower. Use a pleasant scented natural oil and slowly massage your body beginning at the scalp, (or face if you aren’t washing your hair). For my Dosha, Vata/Pitta, I use sesame oil, cured, with a few drops of vetiver, sweet basil and patchouli. To cure the oil, buy organic sunflower, sesame or coconut and simmer until you see it churn a bit and a water dropped into it pops. Don’t let it boil. Allow it to cool before returning it to its bottle. Then add the essential oil. Here are complete instructions.

 4) Meditate

For me, this is essential. I know it is so easy to find you don’t have time, feel like you can’t stop your thoughts, and while sitting trying to meditate, you think of so many things you could be doing. But nothing will give you the same benefits as meditation. No matter how many times you’ve tried, know you can meditate.

First rule, you cannot do it wrong, and any ‘trying’ must be let go of. All it requires is sitting still on your chair or mat with your eyes closed or slightly open and gazing down. Everyone, even the most experienced meditators, have thoughts going through their minds. So what? Have a phrase or mantra to repeat over and over, and when you find you are deep into the story your thoughts are telling you, stop, and pay more attention to the silent repetition of your mantra. It could be Let go, Let God or Peace, be Still, or any of the traditional mantras like So Hum. Here is my short discussion and instruction on my resources page. There are also many guided meditations. Deepak Chopra has some excellent ones on YouTube and Facebook.

I admit I’ve gone through upheavals where it hurt my daily practice, but looking back, the faster I was able to incorporate this daily practice back into my life, the faster my life reached a state of more wellbeing.

Being a meditator doesn’t mean your life becomes a smooth, completely pleasant one. Of course, events and situations pop up, like this Covid-19, problems with other people in your life, illness or hardships, and all the things we experience in daily life. But you may find how you respond to these things gradually changing. You may find your highs during the day are a little higher, and your negative feelings come perhaps not so strong. Your irritation may come with more awareness, you might find yourself empathizing easier, understanding on a deeper level. If you could graph your moods during the day—

the highs and lows—you could see the shift, and that shift is a rise in consciousness.

When I am knocked low because of events I cannot control, and my emotions erupt into a full-blown storm, even then I know I have tools, there are things I can do immediately to lift some of the anxiety, anger or sadness. Sometimes is takes more than a day to get my balance back, But, so far, I always do.

As you learn to meditate, be easy with yourself. If you feel you failed or forgot to meditate, be gentle instead of self-condemning. Forgive yourself and start over.

5) Be in the Moment

Know this is temporary, practice presence.

“Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.” ~ John Lennon

Being in the moment is another way of saying be mindful. It means that whatever you are doing, you are paying complete attention to it instead of tuning in to the constant parade of worries about the future or lamenting over the past. Even currently, you may have more than one problem in your life—we’re all stressed by the Covid-19—or you are worrying about a loved one. Yet in this moment, while you’re cutting vegetables, on an errand, opening mail, paying bills, worrying at this moment isn’t a bit productive. I knew a counselor who called this disaster planning.

One thing I do is put that concern on an imaginary elevator of my mind, up and away, maybe even writing it down. Then I go back to chopping those vegetables in a mindfully, totally present way, and, as does often happen, later, with a clear mind, a solution to that problem will emerge.

When we are focused on our inner stories—what will happen, how bad things are, what happened in the past—not only are we missing the beauty of this moment of life, but we are sending fight or flight hormones throughout our body. Every cell is listening to your emotional state, your anxiety heralding warnings to brace for some unknown enemy with perfectly orchestrated reactions, and every system is affected. When this becomes a constant state, it is inevitable that it affects your wellbeing in small or big ways.

Being in the moment, mindful, right now, reverses all that. There are so many things we can do to shift this. Moving our attention from our thoughts and our mind to our bodily sensations is a big one. Yoga is great for this, as is mindful walking, most sports, or delving into your passions: a hobby or creative activity like quilting, writing, drawing, building things, anything that you need to focus in the here and now. Peace Be Still.

6) Emotional Intelligence

      What is emotional intelligence? Depending on whether you’re using this term as an attribute, as part of a person’s character, maturity, or other quantifier, we instinctively know the more emotionally aware and knowledgeable we are about what we or other people are feeling, the better we are at dealing with difficult emotions.

Very much like the consciousness studies of Dr. David Hawkins and the Integral Psychology theory of Ken Wilbur, we know there must be a graduating scale upon which we find our own level of understanding of ourselves and the world. The more we understand, the more aware we are of our own motivations and others, the easier it is to overcome strong, unpleasant emotions. Haven’t you been so upset at another person or situation, that your peace is destroyed? Your thoughts about it causes unpleasant, visceral reactions in your body, affecting your sleep, and making you irritable, sad, or anxious? It is like a dark mood has taken over your whole being. While you’re blaming someone, blaming yourself, or just trying to repress it, you can’t seem to move past it. Eventually something has to give, and hopefully it isn’t causing more drama or creating an imbalance in your body.

One of the biggest signs that you are gaining emotional intelligence is realizing that what is making you miserable isn’t so much the situation or the behavior of another, but your reaction to it.  So, how to we move into this? One of the tools I find essential for getting a handle on this is Byron Katie’s, The Work. It is a worksheet you can print out from her site or put the app on your phone. It moves you through steps that help you look at the situation or the other person with a new perspective. I highly recommend it for those stuck in their own drama.

When strong emotions overcome you, when you are feeling down, angry, or sad, these feelings are held within your body. See the instructions in number one above for the exercise suggested to let these emotions dissipate.

Forgive yourself and others. This can be really hard, I know. It is often harder to forgive oneself than others. Emotional intelligence also includes giving yourself love. Find ways to be loving to yourself. We hear all the time, Love Yourself. But how do you do that? By forgiveness, actions showing yourself loving kindness, allowing yourself to fail, taking breaks, declining from things that pose more stress, and giving yourself the gift of ease; making it easier on yourself. I’ve found over the years Catherine Ponder’s prayer on forgiveness helpful.

Emotional intelligence also includes knowing who is good for you to be around and who isn’t; who to invite into your energy field. This is another way of being in-tune with your gut reactions to other’s and what they are saying. One of the difficult things about having a serious situation like in my family now, is when confiding in others and their reactions cause more hurt. And I do know they are trying to help, but, especially with those of us who are educated in one of the many alternative health modalities, sometimes a person I am talking to will give me unsolicited advice of an exhausting list of research, things to look up, things to try, until I feel sick inside, and it makes my head hurt. My reaction is, Oh, my God I’m not doing enough or I’m doing it wrong, etc. I then have to step back and work out of those feelings, because I know I am doing as much as I am able to maintain my son’s and my own healthy balance. Sometimes, of course, people respond with simply, I’ll pray, or I feel your pain, and that is helpful. And sometimes I do ask for advice, especially from professionals and friends who have experienced something similar.

7) Look to our experts

Also, when our tools fail, our practices are ineffective, our emotions are creating too much pain, it’s a very good idea to call on professional help. I wish more people understood mental health counseling. We, unfortunately have a resistance in our culture, many believing it is a weakness to seek a therapist. We benefit by those who are well known being open about their own therapy. I heard just the other day, a CNN announcer share something he had learned in therapy that helped him. Many problems with anxiety, depression, or obsessive behavior is very responsive to a few weeks of good therapy.

We will all get through this. It is not the end, like John Lennon said. I will give you something else, Deepak Chopra has been offering a video daily to help us during this time.

Dr. Chopra often talks about our existential angst which originates in our most basic fear, the fear of loss of our ego, the fear of death. He doesn’t get too deep into that in the video below, but the fear of death is at the base of all fears. And when we are discussing all the negative emotions, all the problems we face, it helps to remember at the spiritual level, there is no way we can be really harmed. We spring from our Source, God, infinite, non-physical Divine Love, and all is unfolding for our greater good. We are evolving and expanding in each moment with greater potential. Connecting to our spiritual self will bring the assuredness of our invincibility.

This list is from Deepak’s episode in his series: Spiritual Solutions Part 7: I am infinite flexibility, resilience and dynamism.

  1. Make a commitment 100% to never complain, condemn, criticize or play the victim. If you break your commitment, just gently remind yourself of it.
  2. Stop obsessing about the future. It doesn’t exist. It is unknown, just plant intentions for a more peaceful, joyful world.
  3. Stop regretting over the past. As it says in the bible, Let the dead bury the dead.
  4. Be present. No judgments. Have presence of being
  5. Stay immune to criticism and flattery; the ego’s drama—that of seeking security and drama. The ego is susceptible to the addiction of drama. Being susceptible to both you are at the mercy of every stranger on the street.
  6. It is important to be responsive to feedback

Here is a link to this talk on Facebook. One of many he has posted on Facebook as well as YouTube.

Let me know how you are doing. What is working for you? You can reply to the email! I’d love to hear from you. We are in this together.