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The message below was written by Annie Rohrbach-Walker, NEAT co-chair, who kindly gave us permission to share it.
"These are interesting times."
Many people are using this phrase right now. Local and national newscasts help us be informed about COVID-19--the symptoms and the local and global statistics, together with things we can do to avoid contracting this virus and to prepare for the impact this crisis might have on us, our families, our neighbors, our work. It has been suggested that the most reliable information is coming from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). These websites offer real-time updates. And, these same updates can stir us up and add to our worries and concerns.
The “Fear and Panic Crisis”
We need to be aware of and learn to deal with the “Fear and Panic Crisis.” Yesterday morning our spiritual leader (Rev. Dr. Frank zumMallen at Awakening Ways Spiritual Community, Atascadero, CA) reminded us of this. He also pointed out that anger, anxiety and panic are all very human reactions to something that most of us have never faced before. These emotions all stem from fear and activate our primitive fight-or-flight-response, which affects our sympathetic nervous system and causes chemical changes in our bodies that lower our immune system. Sometimes it is hard to escape these reactions, especially since they currently run deep in the “collective consciousness,” and every news source can make us more susceptible to these human responses. However, becoming more aware of all of this makes me want to take action and encourage as many people as possible to do so as well. (FYI: The sympathetic nervous system prepares the body for the “fight or flight” response during any potential danger. On the other hand, the parasympathetic nervous system inhibits the body from overworking and restores the body to a calm and composed state.)
Concern, Precaution and Preparedness
Our local County Public Health leader recently stated, “While concern, precaution and preparedness are good for us, panic is not. We need to all work together to keep our community safe and healthy.” And I would add to that:
we all need to take very good care of ourselves and do everything we can to build up our immune system; do everything we can to stay healthy—mind, body and spirit.
Here are some suggestions that have come my way recently. Perhaps some of them will be helpful.
1. Do things that make you feel more in control. Choosing to wash our hands, sanitize and not touch our face can make us feel better because this is something we have some control over. The same is true when we engage in self-isolation and social distancing. Find other ways you feel more in control by choosing the actions that feel right for you.
2. Get as much fresh air as possible—being outdoors can nourish us on many levels. Find and notice beauty everywhere you can. Look for and listen to the signs of Spring—the buds, the flowers, the singing birds.
3. Drink lots of water and eat a balanced diet, choosing more nutrient-dense, clean foods (without Chemicals, Refined sugars and grains, Additives and Preservatives, aka CRAP!).
4. Move your body (even if it’s just a few stretches). March around the house, dance, sing, do yoga. QiGong teaches us to bring in and cultivate the good Qi/Chi/energy and to flush out that which doesn’t serve us. Speaking of yoga, a recent Instagram post (by The Chin Twins, 3/13/20) suggests we practice Purification and Cleanliness (Saucha—part of Niyamas, one of the 8 limbs of yoga). “As we put our attention on the cleanliness of the environment, let us not forget to purify our minds as well. Take time to clean the fear and uncertainty out of your consciousness. Take refuge in your breathing, yoga and meditation practices to help you navigate all the emotions. Wash away the fear as often as you wash your hands.”
5. Google “best acupressure points to build up immune system.” When I did this, the quote at the top of one website helped me appreciate acupuncture all the more: “Acupuncture strengthens natural resistance to disease.” You’ll find several simple routines you can do at home to strengthen your immune system in this way.
6. Meditate. There are many varieties of meditation—I especially like meditating in the shower (washing away the old, allowing the new to flow in) and walking meditations. This quiets our busy minds and our bodies, gets us into the present moment and allows us to listen to our guidance. Dr. Frank suggests this taps into our parasympathetic nervous system so we might “rest and digest.” This is a very effective way to strengthen our immune system.
7. Practice “Conscious Breathing.” Deep breathing can easily be incorporated into any kind of meditation or practiced on its own. Preferably done with a straight spine, feet on the floor and eyes closed, there are two methods I have used recently. One has a 4-4-4-4 count—inhale to the count of 4, hold for 4, exhale for 4, pause for 4 (also known as “the box”). The other—inhale to the count of 4, hold for the count of 2, exhale for 6. Repeat with eyes closed as often as you like, ideally several times a day. For even greater benefit, imagine inhaling peace, love, clarity, healing and/or wellness (you choose), and exhaling fear or anything blocking the good feelings. Imagine bringing in oxygen and good energy and healing every cell in your body, and releasing any “waste” or blocks. Every time we engage in deep breathing we are stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system and building up our immune system.
8. Pray. Use prayer (whatever that means to you) to affirm good health, wellness and well-being, together with a sense of calm and peace. Claim an experience of love (rather than fear) and radiate all of this out into your neighborhood, your community and the world. I believe that this opens us up to the Divine flow and brings our body back into balance.
9. Connect with others. Stay in touch with family, friends, neighbors and others you feel connected to. Reach out to anyone (especially the elderly and those with health challenges) who might need a kind word, a prayer, food or other supplies. If it’s appropriate, let them know you are there to help. Remember that most people who contract the corona virus have only mild symptoms and come through it just fine.
10. Think about God instead. There are many words for “that which is greater than we are.” I prefer to call it God. And Dr. Frank suggests that anytime we get caught up in the world of conditions and all the thoughts and emotions that deplete us, simply, “THINK ABOUT GOD INSTEAD!”
When we take action to build our immune system and take care of ourselves, we are also contributing to the well-being of the planet. Each one of us can make a contribution to do so. What we focus on increases, so let’s choose to focus and take action on that which nourishes, uplifts and enhances our life and the lives of others. And so it is.
Blessings of love, joy and peace to you and to everyone.
You can reach Annie at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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