The mountain lion showed up in my dream this week. Here he was in the middle of the street outside our home. He snarled and curled around me as he prepared his next step. I froze yet remained acutely aware of what was happening. It was the moment of the ages. Suddenly, a neighbor walked outside and distracted the lion which worked to allow me the time to run to safety. I was so grateful to this neighbor and the courage displayed.
The virus lion has made its appearance in our land and pounced on the top of our surprised heads. Even though epidemics are no stranger to the world arena, they are to the US. I now realize the complacency of my train of thought when it came to this subject. Images of the Ebola crisis and all its tragedies would flash in my mind and I reacted with a complacent empathy of people worlds away.
The awareness of the global community is taking shape in a new way. I can no longer sit in the bubble I’d been in basically my whole life and career. What was this virus doing in my space? Within the last week, I have ridden the roller coaster of emotions that may be expected in a crisis like this – one we had so little preparation for – so little real knowledge. As a psychotherapist I witness many types of emotional traumas yet feel ill prepared for the collective reaction I am seeing now. The aftermath of 9/11 is as close to that as I have experienced, and I thought that was huge. It feels to me like the snowball is unloosed from the mountain, grows bigger each second and is on the path of destruction with anything in its path. Only this little virus can’t be seen. To be honest, my anxiety felt like its own snowball and I saw the land of feeling out of control in my sight. At this writing there is snowballs flying around but the landscape is changing.
The antidote for stress is creativity. I don’t know how many times I have told that to people. I say it because I believe it. The test is now. The test is NOW. I started this creativity search with an intention. And that was to find my way back to a sense of control and well-being and to do it in the most loving way possible. Connecting love in this intention is important for as we know, love carries with it the highest energy frequency in the body. Love Heals All is one of those spiritual wisdoms and my guiding light. It’s been murky lately so as I’ve done before in my life, it’s back to step one. In the 12-step program that step indicates a surrender to what you are feeling/experiencing and allowing openness for help from Divine/Spirit/Higher power.
Step 2 – Education
I’m learning, listening, and taking it all in. What is fact/fiction and all the gray? Given that there remains unknows, this gray awareness is important to understand. I chose the sources I felt best reflected the govt, science and the spiritual community. I began the filtering process from more the observer perspective and tried to keep my alarmist personality tendencies at bay.
There are distinct personality types that we all have as humans. They exist in humanity so we can get the job of living done. Understanding your own personality type can empower you when you experience your “automatic” reactions and wonder where they came from. The enneagram is one such personality test I often suggest. There are several tests out there but this one is free and takes relatively little time to take…and time is what we might have a little more of these days. https://www.eclecticenergies.com/enneagram/test
Once you have this knowledge, you can use this information to understand some ways to take more control of your thoughts and emotions and simply be kinder to yourself. Kindness and survival emotions of fear and anger don’t mingle well.
Step 3 – Get busy…. with adjusting activities. Worry/concern is one thing – engaging with the fear or other negative emotions is the immune buster. I can make a list now of the new stressors that have developed as a result of what’s happening and felt on the edge of a big screaming roller coaster deep dive until I realized I was there. It was so easy to get there as all of this took me by surprise. This is the first day of the rest of your life. Another common phrase that I will often refer to that until now was underappreciated. Here is a list of adjusting activities that I am beginning to develop for these times. Check back for more in the future.
Adjusting Activities for Mental Health
- Start the day with meditation. Find your style whether it be prayer, conscious breathing, singing chants, Tai Chi or Qi Gong, or a gratitude practice. Do it every day. 60-120 minutes is the goal!
- Develop a new daily routine – and treat it as such. Any new habits take awhile to gel so set the intention and be reassured that you are made for this. The human body needs routines and after an initial resistance will cooperate. Respect your unique situation. Play something motivational. I’m listening to one of Tony Robbins audio books for that. Joe Dispenza’s Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself can be eye-opening as well.
- Take special attention to your diet. This is not the time for processed food. Immune boosting foods need to be the focus for all of us.
- Connect with others! We’ve been hearing a lot about that in the media. Go with that! There are so many great formats/technologies. Be open to visiting with neighbors. In modern times, this has gone by the wayside. Community may be making a comeback.
- Get outside – That’s another no-brainer. If you can’t get out that day look outside, focus on something you see and stay with it and listen to that inner intuitive voice. What I’m beginning to realize is….
- Start a journal of some kind. We are living in historic times.
- Have faith that this too shall pass.
The mountain lion symbolizes courage, leadership, strength, integrity and grace. What animal may be showing up in your path? Be aware and let’s step forward together.