5 Ways to Stop the Fire-or-Flight State
To say, “The past few weeks have been strange” is an understatement. Many of us are blessed as we can stay inside our home instead of the battlefronts of ER floors, seeing many people suffer and die.
While many of us are not on the trenches and seeing the pain and struggle brought by COVID-19 into so many families eye-to-eye, the social distance makes us all feel out of place and with hopes that something that does not have an end-date, to end soon.
Friendships, Space and Time
Just before the lockdown, one of my dearest cousins came over to visit me here in Portland. It was a short stay that left a profoundly restorative feeling in my heart. More proof in my books that real friendships can survive decades of distancing. She introduced me to a yogi and guru in Brazil, which has had a tremendous positive impact in the past week and reminded me of the importance of being connected to myself and grounded when going through significant turmoil.
My Journey Began
During the last full moon, we started having virtual daily meditation sessions that included sharing our feelings, breathing exercises, and mantras. Surprisingly what began as a simple Instagram live became a virtual sanctuary in which hundreds of women from all over the globe connected.
Some app-like meditations for me can be quite dull. The tone of the voice or the pace of the words can trigger an effect opposite to what I am looking for. This meditation was not the case.
For consecutive days, I could sense my inner change and improvement. I kept paying attention to the clock to make sure I would not miss our virtual encounter to breathe and pray for the world.
Happiness Is About The Journey, Not The End.
When I look back, I can see a few things that made me feel better, and may help you deal with the crazy chronic-stress phase we are all living now.
I noticed what I was looking for before the practice started and compared how I felt before and after the meditation ended.
It’s fantastic how we can learn about ourselves when we decided to stop and listen to our bodies. Amid the noise of life, silencing our minds can clear not only our brains but our hearts, too.
So, What Did I Do That Helped Me?
1- Social Connection
I am not saying a physical connection here, as my guru is about 5,000 miles away from me. That said, listening to her speak, and looking at her face, with happy cues of smiles and peaceful eyes, were calming to me. Even though we are far from each other, we do not need to be away from people we loved, and make us feel good. By seeing someone you like via FaceTime or WhatsApp and talking to them, it’s likely to make you feel better.
2- Be Grounded
While my new guru was talking, I could hear the background noise at her home—birds, simple movements. Life was happening there, as it was here. I was not thinking about what I was going to make for dinner, nor my fears of the unknown. I was there, physically and mentally, with her for the entire hour.
Breathing is something I have repeatedly pointed out as a source of calmness, and a resource I have found in my yoga practice. Deep, full breaths open my soul in a way I cannot explain. It melts my pain, and restore my autoimmune rusty bones. I can feel my heart chakra opening and a sudden sense of calm starting.
4- Know Thyself
Coronavirus is invisible and destructive. It can harm our bodies if we catch it, but it can damage our minds even if we don’t. I believe this ‘other side of the coronavirus’ is even more dangerous. The trauma and residual mental impact it can leave in our lives cannot be easily underestimated. Be aware of how you are handling the uncertainty of this moment and look for help if you become stressed or start to have suicidal thoughts.
5- Be Compassionate With Yourself
Some days are easier than others, and it is time to give ourselves a break. My guru let us share simple phrases of how we were dealing with the day-to-day challenges. It helped to listen to others. Loving and mending our wounds, scars, and flaws can improve our wellbeing. We are adapting to a new life model, and it takes time and practice to be good at it. How long? It all depends on each one, our ability to be resilient and learn from this new situation.
One day at a time. I tell myself this mantra every day for the past seven years. I am grateful for my learning and tools from the previous few weeks. I am discovering things about myself that I didn’t know, and that can be added to my life neverending toolbox.
What about you? How are you coping?
Coronavirus is rapidly evolving. Visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, as well as talk to your doctor. If you’re feeling emotionally overwhelmed, reach out to the Crisis Text Line.