I originally wrote this post in August 2015 for an old blog project of mine. Given the almost daily news of homophobic, racist and other violence we find ourselves confronted with right now I felt a need to re-share it here with you today. The post itself initially focuses more on the reality of human-made climate change, but the basic advice for spiritual self-care in challenging times remains the same.
May we find meaning. May we find strength. May we continue to co-create what is desired without turning a blind eye on what’s not, but which is still happening.
There comes a time every couple of months or so when I start to wonder how it’s possible to stay sane. Watching the world around us crumble to pieces in what has been called and is expected to become the sixth mass extinction of organic life on this planet is hard. It’s not just worrying, but frightening. How are we supposed to survive that? Can we start taking climate protection seriously for a change? Will our interpersonal conflicts keep us from transitioning into a future worth living for? Is it time to give up? Or are we just in the middle of labor and need to keep pushing just this little while longer?
With all of these questions and the things going on it’s hard to stay sane. It’s hard to not give in to depression and desperation. It’s hard to keep believing in our own power and humanity’s potential for rapid change. It’s hard to believe that there is any God at times.
Well, we can obviously use our spiritual tools to directly engage with the Gods and spirits. That’s part of what they are there for. We can tune in and listen to them. They can give us direction and help us make sense of the external and internal struggles and changes. There is this path. And there are several others.
For people who have trouble trusting in their own psychic abilities or who haven’t developed these abilities to a degree which allows them to get direct counsel and direction from the ‘Otherworldly’, it’s helpful to remember that you don’t need these abilities in order to understand or give your life purpose. All you really need is your mind.
One of the tools which I have found to be highly efficient in certain circumstances is the tool of positive focus. Essentially this tool is all about choosing where you focus your attention most of the time and directing your attention towards the ‘positive’/desired. This doesn’t mean that we should neglect or ignore the ‘negative’ (more on that in a second). It means accepting, though (or at least pretending at first), that not everything is in fact negative. There are not just bad and dying people out there. There is hope. There are beautiful activists. There are amazing landscapes. There is beauty all around us. Permaculture gardens, rewilding approaches and intentional living communities are spreading. Wolves are returning to landscapes who haven’t seen them in decades and longer. There are several examples. Desired change is in fact already happening. The transformation of society which we seek is on it’s way. The media aren’t always telling us so since ‘news’ are usually centered around the negative. It’s a conscious choice for them to tell just this side of the story. We are free to make a different choice. Acknowledging and spreading information about beautiful and inspiring people, places and initiatives is actually helping them. It’s more than just focusing selectively. It’s actually helping to build a better world in tangible as well as intangible ways. Starting with the fact that giving yourself and others hope reduces stress levels and allows us to act more compassionately and loving with each other and ourselves. Just one of several positive side effects we might not think of at first but which are at play regardless. Something worth considering, right?
If everything else fails it helps me to remember how far we have already come in such a short time. Look back at the beginnings of social justice movements, feminism or the environmental movement. Look at what they protested against in the beginning and what has already changed since then. For example a couple of decades ago the term ‘animal rights’ wouldn’t have made any sense to the ‘ordinary person’ on the street. The idea of opening marriage to same-sex couples seemed far fetched at best and completely unrealistic at worst. Look at how far we have come! This doesn’t mean that there are no longer things to work on and improve, but it means that our fighting is worth it. It means that tangible change is actually possible.
That said, it’s alright to be sad, frustrated, angry and depressed about the state of the world as well. Pretending like we already live in paradise doesn’t make it so for at least the majority of beings on this earth. Species are still going extinct. Police violence and structural racism still happen on the streets. People still get molested, raped and abused. Looking away doesn’t help any of them.
What I propose instead is that we make a commitment to watch and listen. Not in spite of, but fully embracing all the emotions that this might bring up for us. We need to let our anger burn us to ashes before we can rise from the flames like a phoenix. We need to let our sorrow and pain consume us. Our tears will cleanse our eyes and hearts. However we might feel, it is OK. Our emotions are there for a reason. Accepting them will keep us sane. Once we stop running away from the way we feel we can begin to look Apocalypse in the face and still remain sane and able to act.
I agree, this is the work of a Warrior and it takes practice, but I believe it’s where we need to go next in order to deal with what is. I believe in our ability to do it in self-loving ways.
Remember to laugh. Drink enough fluids. Eat healthy food. Spend time in the sun and outdoors. Exercise a little. Meditate. Seek out beauty. Fundamental self-care will bring you a long way with this.
Much love to you during our shared journey! May we keep each other sane.