Radical Self-Care in Uncertain Times

November 14, 2016

I began writing this post two days ago but realized that I was not yet in a place where my anger and frustration over the events of this past week could not be expressed without the corresponding vitriol. I have taken in the words of my meditation teachers, Buddhist teachers such as Thich Nhat Hanh (who survived the Vietnam War as a peacekeeper) and people in my life whose wisdom I admire and would like to share some words of self-care and composure for the coming times.

 

It is often said there are two things you never, ever discuss with therapy clients...politics and religion. Well, those of you who know me well are aware that I do not abide by those rules. One...because they are too important to our individual world views to not incorporate and two...what are we so afraid of? Afraid of disagreeing, afraid of what it may reveal to others or ourselves? Afraid someone might not like us anymore? Everyone I encounter in my practice knows fairly quickly where I fall on the continuum of ideas but that does not really matter when discussing how to keep our faith alive, whatever it may be, in times of uncertainty, for many, a return to feeling unsafe and an environment where you can feel people on the street questioning each other with a glance or an awkward greeting.

 

You may ask, "Why the term "radical" self-care?" Because we live in a society where the Self is important but we are never truly taught what it means to care for ourSelves. In times when our faith is rocked to its core, it demands we return to the place of truth and deeply felt connection to our Spirit. When I feel myself slipping into a state of despair, crying and questioning everything our country stands for, I take a deep breath, close my eyes and connect to the place deep within where our essence lies. The essence of what it means to be a human and the place that searches for understanding. I may not yet understand, but the search for incorporating the worldview of others that seem so far away from my perspective of the world is what kept peacekeepers like Dr. King and Ghandi in the place of non-violence, both in action and words. They were able to use anger in response to environments and situations, not people, as the catalyst for radical compassion.  Each of our perspectives of the world lies in our personal experience. The encounters we have or have not had. The ideas, philosophies or guidance we have or have not had. The opportunity to experience or not experience more than our immediate environment. No matter how loud we yell or respond without consideration to social media, we forget that you cannot change a mind through anger alone. Anger can fuel the beginning of change but it cannot sustain it. Eventually the initial savior becomes the silent killer of our hearts and minds.

 

That being said, here are a few things I have tried and other like-minded folks have suggested over the last few days to come back to center, ground and hold on to our purpose:

 

1.) Meditate...perhaps focusing on Loving-Kindness meditation

 

2.) Surround yourself with people who genuinely support you. This is not the time for those you may disagree with but inherently love.

 

3.) Eat well. Nourish your body. Avoid too much alcohol and sugar.

 

4.) Reconnect with nature. She is the source that unites us all. Take a walk in the brisk November air, sit by the lake, park in the grass and put your face to the sky.

 

5.) If you have children or are around children frequently, soak up their joy and playfulness. Their innocence is a reminder of our true essence.

 

6.) If you have children of your own, give them an extra long hug.

 

7.) Limit social media. (I know...I know. Very hard for me too, but in the long run it is for the best. There is nothing like regret over words said out of anger and frustration).

 

8.) Do something physical. If you are mad, throw pillows at the wall. Make love to your partner. Go for a hike. Exercise. Get the built up emotions out of your system. They will return, but perhaps in a less intense form.

 

9.) Sleep

 

10.) If you are a socially activated person, keep connected but monitor the nature of those surrounding you. Find a community that focuses on solving problems effectively in place of revenge or blame speech.

 

Well, those are my words for now. Tonight is a Supermoon packed with energy of intention and reconnecting to purpose. Gaze at the sky and speak to your essence. It will hear you.

 

Much love to all!

 

 

 

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       Melissa Schleicher-Park, LCPC, BC-DMT                                     1818 Dempster Street, Evanston, IL                                            melissa@mettacounselingchicago.com      

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