mus·ing /ˈmyo͞oziNG/ (plural noun): musings: A period of reflection or thought.
Right now, I am listening to the sounds of sirens. They go off so often because I live just a few blocks from a fire station. All day I hear them, and I feel fleeting hope when there is silence for a stretch of time. Some nights there are no sirens and I think maybe that is a good sign, maybe less people are sick, less people are dying, less people need help. The news then reminds me that we have not even peaked yet and I feel the dread that many of us are experiencing right now.
I am sure I am not the only one for whom reactions to this pandemic fit the well-known Kubler-Ross and Kessler stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Many of us have already run through the entire spectrum and some of us are stuck in one phase or another. All of which feels appropriate for what is happening.
I think we were all in denial as we traveled and danced in just a short while ago while the virus was silently wreaking havoc in the bodies of thousands. Anger that our government chose to ignore the warnings. We bargain with the God to let the scourge will pass our doors, we sink into depression when it hits home and for so many, we accept that this will be with us for a while.
Unfortunately, we do not have a lot of great tools to deal with all of this, but we do have some. What gives me hope and sometimes even joy is knowing that I can make better use of the a few tools that are free solutions to life’s greatest challenges. These are mine:
1) Practice silence. There is no greater gift to all of us than our ability to calm ourselves by looking within. By taking a few minutes throughout the day (I do it at the start of mine) to just be still is the ultimate reset. If we want to hear God’s voice, we need to stop doing and start being. If it is hard to just be still, start by listening to sounds inside first and outside. Start with your breath, your heart, your room, your home, the birds outside your window, the wind, the passing plane, the universe. Yes – listening to everything will eventually result in silence and that is where your spirit will rest and be replenished.
2) Practice gratitude. It is almost impossible to hold anger, uncertainty, or fear in your heart when you are being grateful. Try it. Gratitude is salve for the soul. The power in saying thank you (whether to your higher power, your parents, your family or friends) is a way to affirm and increase the bounty of blessings that we have and that we will receive.
3) Practice connection. Right now our inclination may be to withdraw to protect ourselves and our families. Wearing masks, social distancing and sheltering in place certainly reinforce that instinct but these barriers should not serve to disconnect us from each other. And it is the recognition of our connection that lifts our mood and normalizes this very abnormal situation. It is okay to wave to your neighbors who are sitting on their front porch. Go ahead and join that Zoom group that you think will be silly. When greeting people out in the world smile. Your smile will shine through your mask and others will feel the warmth of your spirit.
4) Practice forgiveness. What a great time to just let everyone off the hook. Forgive that money you never got back. Forgive any insults or slights. Forgive everyone. Forgiveness is a gift for you that allows the release of mental and emotional chains never meant to serve you in the first place.
5) Practice creativity. Everyone is blessed with a generative instinct, meaning we are meant to create more than we are meant to consume. Unfortunately, our smart phones, televisions, computers are made for 24/7 consumption and can trick us into believing we are inadequate and untalented. The truth is we are just the opposite. Taking the time to cultivate our creative juices forces us all to be present in life and to bring new expressions into existence. So cook, draw, garden, write, sing, play, produce.
6) Practice love. Say “I love you” to everyone who has touched your life. Say it to the people whose lives you want to touch. Say it to yourself and know you deserve it.
We are in this situation for a while and if we can practice wellness by using these tools we will not only survive, we can be the generation that produces a new era of enlightenment. One that will be filled with people that are generous, loving, kind and forgiving.
I am still hearing sirens but I am also hearing the birds singing every day. I think we can learn a lesson from them. Keep moving, keep producing and keep signing. We will all be okay.
DJ Lori Branch
Chicago, IL, USA