5 ways to hold it together right now
“I find hope in the darkest of days and focus in the brightest. I do not judge the universe.” — Dalai Lama
With rapidly changing times and the push to practice social distancing, life is different and challenging for all of us. It’s easy to panic and worry about supplies, work, paying your bills, and your basic survival. The question to ask yourself is: does this worry serve me? Will worrying about supplies and paying bills actually accomplish these looming tasks? I haven’t seen toilet paper in a store in over a week, but my thinking about its absence isn’t going to make it magically appear. I trust I will get my hands on it at some point.
What does serve us in this unprecedented uncertainty? Keeping your center. If there was ever a time to keep your center, it’s during coronavirus. You can’t do anything if you’re all over the place running in different directions. I used to be a high school teacher. If anybody knows how to keep their center, it’s me. Now, as a writer, I hear “no” more often than I would like. It’s part of the gig. I smile and keep it moving. Keeping my center is a job requirement. Here’s how I do it:
5 Ways to Keep Your Center
1 Focus on what you can control. You can’t control how many new cases of coronavirus are happening around the country or if the stores are cleaned out of some supply you need. In my search for a literary agent, I experienced numerous rejections. I had several manuscript requests only to be turned down. I kept reminding myself that it was out of my hands, and I only needed one yes. I knew I would get it and, one day, I did. The only thing I could control was how I felt and how I reacted to it. Eventually, I got the reaction I wanted.
2 Deep breathing. Most of us don’t focus on how we breathe. It’s something we do automatically. If you find yourself getting wound up, slow down. Lie down or sit in a comfortable chair. Breath slowly. In through the nose and out through the mouth. If my mind races about a deadline or some other issue I’m thinking about. I pause and breathe.
3 Meditation. Find a quiet corner. Clear your mind. Focus on your breathing to start. Just be. Put the to-do lists and mental chatter aside. When I taught, I began meditating daily and made it part of my morning ritual. I still do it and find that meditation makes dealing with daily hiccups a lot easier. Dr. Oz even includes it on his “Coronavirus Survival Protocol.”
4 Find your joy. Take fifteen or twenty minutes to do something just because you enjoy it. With all the things that we have to do, taking the time for ourselves won’t hurt anything or anyone. My joy is in creative expression, so I started learning guitar again as another form of it. Since it’s just me playing at home, I don’t have to be concerned about how it will be received which is very freeing.
5 Keep perspective. Some of our parents and grandparents got through a war and other catastrophic events. My parents lost their country and came to a new one with 7 kids only to have another one as soon as they got here. My father had no job at first, and my mother was a homemaker. We always had a home, and we were never hungry. Whenever I have a difficult situation, I remember that. If they found a way to keep going with 8 other people to think about, I can, too.
So can all of us. The universe has a way of working things out if you pay attention. Like the Grateful Dead said, “Once in a while you get shown the light in the strangest of places if you look at it right.”
Find your light during this unpredictable time.