As a healer living through the pandemic I can’t help but wonder “what do people need right now?” One of the most important tools I bring to my patients is the capacity to see the root cause of their struggles. Through questioning, tongue and pulse diagnosis, and intuition, I am able to piece together a map of each of my patients. Every human being is a puzzle and I’m able to see which pieces are out of order, which need to be let go of all together, and which pieces are needed from the external world to make the puzzle whole again.
I have the same sort of understanding as to how the pandemic is impacting people’s bodies & minds. Once I am clear on the effect that this time is having on people, I can create treatment strategies to best move through these difficult times.
The “wild card” is that there are many responses based on how the pandemic has impacted each person individually. Some folks have contracted COVID while others haven’t, some have lost loved ones, and some have lost their jobs. Others have not been as personally impacted.
This said, there is a consistent thread of negative impact, no matter what the circumstances are. People are scared. People are wanting answers and solutions. People are impatient and losing steam for the long process of outliving a virus.
The fear factor:
The nervous system has become very dysregulated; which is to say each of us are living in the “fight or flight” mode. The nervous system operates best when it is in “rest and repair” throughout the day and night with occasional shifts into “fight or flight” in case of an emergency. Right now, our body is stuck in the “survival mode of the brain”. This makes sense, because it wants to survive this pandemic. But, this level of vigilance is very bad for our brains and bodies. Cortisol and adrenaline is released consistently which can cause health issues both physically and mentally. Over time, our body can fall into adrenal fatigue due to this excess cortisol and adrenalin release. This is why it’s more important than ever right now to learn how to care of ourselves, both physically and emotionally.
Looking to the external world for answers:
Our western world generally believes that disease is an outside issue and that we need to fight through it. Conversely, in Chinese medicine, it is believed that the external world and our own internal world must learn to work together in harmony. When one gets sick whether with a cold or with cancer, the treatment strategy is to reinforce the internal landscape such that the body is able to support healing itself. We are traditionally a “pill for an ill” society. We have been taught to find something quick and easy to make the changes for us and not rely on our own capacity to cultivate internal change. These are mindsets that the current pandemic is forcing us to re-evaluate. It does not serve us to not properly care for ourselves and our underlying health conditions! It is time to address these conditions in a way that heal the issues rather than put a band-aid on them.
This pandemic is lasting much longer than any of us could have anticipated back in March. Initially, when everyone was in shock, we all thought a few weeks of lockdown and we’ll be back and better than ever! As the pandemic pushes past the 8 month mark, people are having trouble seeing a clear path for our future. It has reached a point where everyone would like to move past this problem but are stuck in our current state.
There are no easy answers, however, there are a few principles which can be applied in order to support us.
- Peace: Rather than living in the fight or flight mode of operation, we can choose to live in peace no matter the circumstances. This is not an easy task but the more it is practiced, the easier life becomes. In fact, it feels good to maintain peace, inner harmony, and calm. It’s exponentially more difficult on our body and brain to be on the emotional rollercoaster of the outside world, or things we cannot control. The next time you feel the energy of the fight or flight mode, you can begin the practice of saying “I allow myself to choose peace in this moment”. Allow yourself to take some deep breaths and continue to release fear and breath in peace.
- Embracing our inner knowing: “To thine own self be true” wrote Shakespeare . If you go within and listen to what the needs of your body, mind, and spirit are; you are then able to take care of yourself at a deep level. For example, when we exercise we get an endorphin release. When we eat healthy foods, our bodies function optimally. When we listen to our internal knowing, we don’t expect others to meet needs that we haven’t met for ourselves. The more we are aware of our nature, the more we can return to it.
- Patience: Rather than wanting to escape this moment, we can allow ourselves to “lean in” to the intensity of it. One possible saying is “this is what it feels like to be anxious in this present moment”. Allowing ourselves to simply feel the momentary emotion acknowledges that it is fleeting. On the other side of anxiety, this pandemic has brought out TRUE gratitude for many people. Realizing that truly, it could be much worse. Things that we used to take for granted, we are now experiencing embodied gratitude for. This is when gratitude is not just a concept, but an inner smile that impacts our vision from the inside out. So we allow ourselves to practice patience by finding peace in every step. We stop planning and looking towards the future for fulfillment, and instead embrace each moment of our lives.
These are not easy principles. But as we all know, these are not easy times. It’s these sorts of intense times that teach us that doing the underlying work to cultivate peace in our bodies and spirits has a huge impact on how we experience our daily lives.
Great to use at the beginning of feeling upset:
I allow myself to choose peace in this present moment. I release the stressors of the outside world and allow myself to flow with peace. I release any fear/anger/anxiety and allow myself to remain in a state of love and light.
Great to use while feeling intense upset:
This is what it feels like to have this feeling, in this moment, in this body. I do not resist this feeling; I just allow myself to experience it. I do not fear this emotion. I know that it has lessons to teach me. This, too, shall pass.
Great for cultivating a relationship with self:
Coming into this present moment I connect with my true self. I release my identity, my external circumstances, and my engagement with the outer world. I go within and open up to my spirit shining through. I connect with my self that is pure love and light, and allow myself to feel good being in my own space and in my own skin. I enjoy the comfortable feeling I have being with my divine nature.