We are indeed living in wild times – an out of control pandemic, economic upheaval, and a heated, much needed, moral revolution. This is a time when it is enormously helpful to be able to disconnect our inner state of being from the events swirling in our lives.
Several years ago, when my life blew to pieces, my survival depended upon learning how to maintain peace and calm in the midst of chaos and tremendous uncertainty. One of the biggest skills I wound up developing was the ability to analyze and manage fear. The truth is most of our fears are about some future possibility, that may or may not happen. As Mark Twain noted, “I am an old man and have known many troubles. Most of them never happened.”
I was recently interviewed on the Unity Online Radio program, Jazzy Vegetarian, about my book, When Life Blows Up: A Guide to Peace, Power and Reinvention. The show’s host, Laura Theodore, covers a breadth of issues beyond just vegetarianism. In this episode she really focused in on the uncertainty of our times and facing and managing fear and anxiety. The link to the show is here. I hope it is useful to some. By the way, Laura is a great, and truly very jazzy host – super fun and entertaining presentation style. And even when she’s focusing on other topics, she still offers up some great healthy food info.
Here is an excerpt from my book that gives a great tool for managing fear:
- “Learn the art of “Presencing”, of practicing being in the Present Moment.
The simple fact is that unless we train ourselves differently, most of us spend the bulk of our lives focused on the past or the future, often in fear. If you’re reading this book you’re likely dealing with some difficult, even traumatic situation right now. There are probably a lot of unknowns, worry, angst. But ask yourself this, right now in this very moment, are you basically OK? Are you right now, under direct attack? In this very moment are you warm? Do you have shelter and food? Are you breathing? If you have time to read this sentence your answer is almost certainly yes!
To become present, look around you right now wherever you are. Notice the sights. Take a deep breath through your nose and notice the scents. Listen to the many sounds and the little silences between them. Feel the chair beneath you, supporting you. Focus on the breath gently moving in and out of your body. Feel the rhythm of your beating heart. Run your right hand gently across the top of your left. Notice. Breathe. Say aloud, “I Am here. I Am here. I Am here.”
Let your body release its tensions – loosen the jaw, drop shoulders. Underneath all the noises and sounds feel the deep stillness of the earth and sea. Breathe. Deeply. Look around and feel this moment in time. Release and relax.
Developing a presencing practice takes exactly that — practice. The more times each and every day you bring your focus back to the present moment, even for just a second or two, the calmer and less stressed you will be. Not only will this help you navigate trauma more easily, it will add all sorts of additional beauty and richness to the good times.
Coming into the present moment gives you the space to clarify the fears that are about imagined future happenings, those that are about things you have no control over and those that might actually merit some action. I highly recommend reading The Power of Now, by Eckert Tolle.
This very moment, this instant of now, is really the only thing we can control. The state of consciousness we choose in this moment sets the stage for what happens next. In the now we can choose the feeling we want to experience. That’s right — you do not have to be at the mercy of your emotions. You have a choice in how you feel and you can learn to wield this power with skill and consistency, even when facing extraordinary challenges.”
Hang in there friends. Breathe. You are not alone. And there is tremendous opportunity in this time of profound change.