Give Yourself a Break
When I’m reading the pandemic news these days, I find it supportive when I can feel the author’s humanity. Feeling their authenticity makes it a lot easier to digest what they’re saying. It makes it all more real and relatable.
In this spirit, I’d like to be totally real with you in this blog. I hope it connects us in our authenticity, in our appreciation of the gravity of this moment, and in how we all can make our way through this pandemic together.
There’s a special mantra I’m reciting these days that helps me a lot, and which I want to recommend to you:
“This is really f**king hard.”
This is really f**king hard. Just say this mantra to yourself, breathe fully down into your belly, and let your body relax into the truth of it. Then recite the mantra again, breathe, and relax.
Give yourself a break. During this pandemic, the external world is filled with pressure. We’re not even allowed to go outside much, and when we do, we must bear the heavy, awful unnaturalness of regarding our fellow human beings as a threat to ourselves, and ourselves as a threat to our brothers and sisters. This feels so bad. It’s really f**king hard.
But we don’t need to lose hope, because there is something we can do: We can relax our struggle against the truth of the situation. Our habitual response to a time like this is to try to step up to meet the challenge. And in so many ways, we need to do that. The only problem is that in the face of a challenge like this, there’s no way we can “fix it” and make it right. What we can do is give ourselves permission to let that struggle go.
And instead of struggling, we can make room for our feelings: anxiety, frustration, sadness, exhaustion, or whatever they might be. We can welcome our feelings into an accommodating space of loving awareness. We can allow for our humanity.
So ease up on your self-criticism. You can’t fix it; you can’t make it right; so stop beating yourself up for not being able to. Breathe. Just breathe, and let yourself relax.
All (or at least most all) of our reference points about the future have been totally upended. This has put the left-brain, analytical, future-focused, problem-solving part of our mind into freak-out mode. It can’t handle so much uncertainty at once, so it goes haywire. As a result, we feel a lot of anxiety.
In response, we can simply stay in the present, and feel the benefits of that. Breathe; come down into your body; feel. Your right-brain is waiting for you with love, calm, and strength.
This is because the right-brain is connected with direct experience of what’s actually happening in this very present moment. And here in the present, things are actually ok. Our eyes are functioning, as are our ears, nose, tongue, and body. Check in with them. Let yourself enjoy a few moments of their pure sense perception. Especially, invite your body to feel into the pure physical sensations you’re actually feeling right now. You’re ok, so breathe into your body and welcome yourself there with love and understanding. Remember, this is really f**king hard.
Can it bring a smile to your face to say that?
Another thing: In times of extreme stress, it’s a natural human need to feel a desire to be comforted and soothed by someone bigger, wiser, and more powerful than we ourselves feel. In other words, when you feel beat up, it’s totally understandable to want to cry and say, “I want my mommy.” That’s one big reason why at a time like this people turn even more than they ordinarily might to substances like drugs, alcohol, or “comfort food.”
I certainly don’t want to begrudge you your substances if you’re using them in moderation. And I’ve always loved the story of Churchill during World War II starting his mornings with a bath and a bottle of champagne. But there is something else I’d also encourage you to try: prayer.
Pray to whomever you feel inclined to do so. This could be God. It could be a Buddhist deity like Tara. It could be your mentors, heroes, or ancestors. Or it could simply be the pure heart of the universe — an expanse of awareness suffused with love. To that end, here is a prayer I composed entitled “Khyen No”, which in Tibetan means “Know me.”
Know me. Know my heart as only you can.
Expanse, lover, mother, friend,
I feel you in eye contact, in human sounds, in touch and embrace,
I open to your warmth in purest space.
You are uniquely alive, transcendently alive.
As your warm, tender love enters me and mingles with my insides,
My cold, scared, anxious heart opens
And we are no longer two.
I wish you all the very best. I’ll write more as time goes on. And until then, if you need to, please get in touch.
Looking for more?