“Are you okay? Are you safe?” 

Normally, these aren’t questions that I need to ask in my practice but 2020 has changed that. There have been a few times where I needed to ask and was ready to call in services or help if necessary. Fortunately, they have all responded as safe and okay. 

We will all face challenges or stressors in our lives. Some of these may small and only irritate us from time to time. Others may be of severe magnitude and alter our lives significantly. The world is facing such a challenges this year – there is pandemic, there is political and global strife, and our world is suffering. We may not be able to gather with our families during the holidays. There is grief, there is anger, there is frustration and joy seems a world away to some. 

I cannot changes these things. I don’t know that they need changed, it might just be time to face the fugly and clean it up. What I can do is offer up a few ideas that might be helpful. Maybe it’s a different way of relating to the situation. Perhaps it’s glimmer or a spark to help you create some joy, to ease a little anxiety or frustrations.

The following list is evolved from a class I ran earlier in the spring to help deal with anxiety and stress. I hope you find it helpful. 

PRIORITIZE AND ASSESS RISK

Sometimes the source of anxiety or stress is significant enough that you need to stop all non-essential behaviors for a period of time while you make sure your basic needs are met – which can include food, housing, monies. Take a step back, make sure you are safe and your basic needs are met and then start building up a plan or tool kit. Get help if necessary.

KNOW YOURSELF

Take time for introspection and to look inside. What stresses or worries you? Acknowledge them and then develop a plan and create or utilize the tools and skills to help you navigate difficult times. Mediation, journaling, drawing, talking or even singing – more on this soon.

This is concept of using ‘Li proceeds Qi’. That intention (Li) becomes manifest (Qi) when we act on it. Anxiety, worries, stress and fear are forms of Qi and Qi can always be directed or transformed. But you can’t do that if you don’t even know that’s a possibility, right? It is, and now that you know you can choose to start working with it. These can be minor shifts like choosing to not let the weather ‘tick you off’ to massive shifts like addressing your social, gender or cultural conditioning.  Times of significant stress or change (especially at a collective level) bring out the best or worse of us – the vice or virtue. For those paying attention they may call us to question our own actions and those around us. Stressful times are not an excuse to act on your vices, be aware, but do not excuse others for acting poorly either.   

ASK YOURSELF

What makes me worry, anxious, stressed or fearful? Are these habituated emotions? Are these conditions exacerbated by current situations? Give yourself permission to acknowledge them. Ask yourself what gives you joy? What brings you a sense of ease? Acknowledge these as well.

The goal here isn’t to avoid what is happening it is to recognize it, and then decide what you can do about it – if anything needs done.  Often times the reality is we may be mired in habituated responses that don’t work any more or we don’t have the skills to deal with what we have going on now. Maybe you need to dust off your skills, maybe you need new tools or skills. 

DUST OFF OR CREATE NEW TOOLS AND SKILLS

Your tool kit should be personalized and unique to you. There maybe some general ideas that can be fantastic starts for everyone –  get dressed or make your bed, etc. Those are great, but delving inward a little deeper, using greater introspection works absolute wonders.

TOOLS I USE

  • Contemplation on the specific concern, situation or worry. Once I’ve identified the concern I use contemplation (often with writing) to create a vision of what I can do with what is going on. I then go about creating an action plan to tackle the concern if necessary. For example – pivoting (if I can use the latest buzz word) my practice to online this spring when the coronavirus showed up.
  • Review the virtues of the 5 Elements and use them. See right.
  • Be grateful. Write it out, sing it out, call someone you love or write a note.
  • Journal or write – one of my favorite tools.
  • Work with my hands – knit, sew, cook, and gardening. I slow down and feel what’s going on, the rumble of the cat’s purr before he chomps in spite. 
  • Go into nature or be among plants
  • Listen to favorite music. Share that music with a friend or loved – one. 
  • Clean or arrange my space. Feng Shui, baby. 
  • Adjust your diet – perhaps you do need to make some comfort food. Perhaps it’s time to clean up the diet and step away from junk food. Just take a look and see if there is a tweak or two that might help. Maybe it’s time to pull out the nice plates and make sure you sit down at a clean table and enjoy a slow meal.
  • Creative works – Color is important for me personally. 
  • Do I need to adjust my herbs or vitamins? You may need help assessing this one. Sometimes we may need to shift our current herb and supplement regimen. Sometimes we might just need a break from them.
  • Scents and flavors – Florals open the heart and bring joy. Citrus brightens the spirit. Warm pungents like cinnamon calm and warm. Mint perks you up. 
  • Sing and laugh – get silly, find some humor.
  • Crying is fine too! 
  • Slow down, maybe take a short break from frustrating news, etc.
  • What can I do to help? I fully acknowledge that part of my being is based around providing service and help to others – I am Fire and Earth. Finding out how to do that in a meaning way was the trick. In 2020, I needed to figure out how to use my skills and talents to stay connected and help without harming or causing further spread of the virus. 

Again, I hope you find something that can be of comfort of benefit to you right now.

You know where I am if you need me.

Be well,

April

THE VIRTUES OF THE 5 ELEMENTS

WATER – KIDNEY

Who am I? Why am I here? How Shall I live?

Water provides clarity of intention.

Houses our Zhi (will power) and is affected by fear.

FIRE – HEART

The Law of Volition.

Follow the wisdom of your heart and renounce victimhood.

Houses the Shen (spirit) and is affected by excess joy.

WOOD – LIVER

Face everything and avoid nothing.

Wood provides perspective and humility. 

Liver houses the Hun & rules vision and planning.

It is affected by anger and frustration.

METAL – LUNGS

The truth of impersonal.

Creating transparency and recognizing hierarchy within the world and in heaven.

The Lungs house the Po & rule respiration and are affected by grief and loss.

EARTH – SPLEEN

For the sake of the whole. Integrity. Rules digestion and transformation.

Houses the Yi (thought) and is affected by worry.

Used with Permission from Lonny Jarrett.