Two weeks ago, we wrote about How to Transcend Today’s Turmoil with Inner Peace. We ended the blog by asking “What is it that you do? What refreshes your spirit? What brings you peace? How do you stay present while remaining alert to what is happening? Tell us a few of the things that work for you. We are all in this together.”
We got so many great responses that we are sharing them, both last week and this week. Enjoy!
A few things that work for me during this time of turmoil: I stay present by not complaining about our current situation and not comparing it to how things used to be. I limit the amount of news I watch but still keep my heart open to the suffering in the world. I spend a lot of time outdoors just being, not thinking or worrying, which supports a stable inner space of peace and calm. I connect regularly with close friends in person and online so I have places where I feel held and heard and offer the same to others. I take day trips to feed my need for a little adventure. Most fundamentally, I accept what’s here rather than wishing for things to be different than they are.
Gail Brenner, Ph.D.
What brings me peace now is the same thing that has sustained me ever since I began my post-working life – sharing what I have learned with others who may not have been as fortunate as I was during my striving for material success.
Ever since I left school my life has been about setting and achieving professional goals, with little time left over for thinking about how to make the world a better place. I played the corporate game, and it all worked out pretty well for me, but it was only when I got off that treadmill and had the luxury of time that I found what truly brought me satisfaction. I was a product of the public school system, from kindergarten through college, and the prospect of helping young students who lack access to the opportunities that I had has made my life so much richer. The ability to use the skills that I acquired in my professional life to help underserved women to reach their career goals is the other area with which I am hoping to make a difference.
Before Covid I had the great pleasure of working with the children and the women in person, and it has been painful to lose that one-to-one contact. Transferring over to on-line connections is a necessary accommodation, and I am determined to make that work.
I continue to be sensitive to self-care and find that virtual exercise classes with the members of my gym help me to feel strong and connected. Getting outside with my drawing pad and whatever book I am reading at the moment is very calming, and of course, there is always the Siamese cat, Mikey, who is delighted that I am around so much more and is super extra cuddly.
Thankfully New York City has eased the restrictions on parks, so I am playing tennis again. And joy of joys, the museums are opening and it may not be too long before we can go to see a movie in an actual theater, the way it is intended to be seen, in the dark and with the vibe of other people breathing and reacting around you.
And let’s not forget, there is a rather important election coming up, which means that there are phone calls to be made and letters to be written and people to convince that even though it is hard to be optimistic at this moment, it is up to us to fight for what we believe in and that nothing is forever. Maybe this time is part of the ebb and flow of America’s continuing challenge of learning and growing. I refuse to accept pessimism because it is simply an excuse for inaction. This is what keeps me going.
I was already retired from all outside work as I was dealing with an auto-immune condition affecting my bone marrow’s ability to create red blood cells, causing moderate to severe anemia. I have continued through all this, including the Covid-19 pandemic, by working on-line. I have become quite proficient at using the Zoom app. I continue to participate in my two Toastmasters clubs, I serve on a number of Boards of Trustees (Ventura genealogy society, a historical society, the Urantia Book University Institute) as well as serving as treasurer for several entities.
I do not feel isolated even though I cannot go out as much as I would like. The primary benefit of this time has been that my siblings (six of us) have gotten together every fortnight on Sunday afternoons for several hours to talk via Zoom. We are spread out from St. Louis to Puget Sound to So.Cal. It has been extraordinary. We have spent more time supporting, conversing, and reminiscing about our family and growing up in the mid-west than in ages. This has stimulated my writing. I am a member of a group of 6 that meets once a month to share our stories and help each other improve our skills.
I have been mentoring another group since the beginning of the year and we have also moved our get-togethers to Zoom. I was hoping to find time to work on my genealogy but I keep pushing it off to do all the rest of my activities.
So in the final analysis, the pandemic has not affected me in any negative way. We adjust and keep on keeping on. For my peace of mind, I meditate almost every day, sometimes several times a day. I still have time to read and study.
Lastly, I am so grateful for all my friends and the wonderful staff at Kaiser who are managing my health challenges.
Maude and Phil, here’s one thing I’ve been doing to refresh my spirit.
I like to exercise for spiritual refreshment. With gyms and swimming pools closed, I took to the ocean. Now I’m an ocean swimmer. I bought a wetsuit and since April I’ve worked my way up to swimming a mile, three times a week. I enjoy a vigorous physical challenge to ignite the endorphins, and if I set the goal high enough, I stay interested and committed. The challenges are not minor with open water swimming: the cold, the seaweed, the current, and the unknown. It’s just a little dangerous and that keeps me in the present. After, I sit in my beach chair and either listen to the waves or music—and I never check Facebook.
Due to Covid-19 causing isolation as well as economic downturns, it’s been a challenging time for everyone. The usual comforts like meeting friends at restaurants or movies or just outside shopping at the farmers market have completely stopped.
Often for those of us that are NOT in an intimate relationship, meeting up with friends in various favorite spots has all but stopped; so clearly we differ from those married or in partnered lives.
Being solo during the pandemic is its own story; and I believe (at least for myself) its challenges are entirely different. Certainly, the ease of intimacy with a partner is not part of this. I’m often aware of the upside, I don’t have to be soft to the one I love when I am grumpy, my raw edges aren’t hurting anyone and I can be honestly and intimately upset with myself or the situation without making it harder on someone else! For this I am always grateful!
At age 68, I have been facing some really difficult times around losing my teeth. This week I will have lost the 4th in 2 years, three in the last 5 months. On March 14th, the day of the shutdown here in Mendocino CA, I lost the 3rd one. The next day all the dentists shut down until mid-June, but I wasn’t able to get in until early July. Yesterday I lost the 4th tooth. I am traumatized as I have fought to keep my teeth my whole life (definitely bad genetics, though I do have great hair!)
How do I find inner peace in the eye of the raging storm? In the eye of the economic situation I am in? How do we as solo beings establish a gentle place to go when we are in trouble and there is no-one but ourselves to answer to? Personally I believe THIS IS THE WORK! Whether we are in partnership or solo, we are truly the only ones that can lift our spirits and bring ourselves to a safe and hopeful place.
I walk. I cook the best meals ever. I have dessert too. I have an amazing group of people that love me. I call them. I sit and do a deep breathing meditation with a candle and I speak aloud my long list of all that I am grateful for. I am grateful for everything that got me to today…and when I wake, even on a troubled day, I say, THANK YOU GREAT SPIRIT, for today I get to do this again…maybe better than yesterday? And even with the shortages, I have food and shelter and love supporting me. I have found myself enjoying long calls. I have Zoom but hardly use it. I don’t gravitate toward the computer when I want human contact. I have used FaceTime, although I think I look awful on it and haven’t really wanted the visuals with my missing teeth. I am lucky that it is the time of the mask and I can move fluidly through the world, the grocery store and post office without drawing attention to my recent lost teeth.
I practice knowing that far beyond what my often limited mind can see, I am far greater than just some teeth, or some money; I am truly gifted with life and the ability to love. SO: I love the ocean, the sky and the flowers always comfort me. The birds, the sunset, a bath and my warm bed and the chance to do it all again tomorrow. Laughter comes when I surrender to the tears and know in my heart it is all part of the same dance! Believe in the good…and remember we are all in this together!
My grandson Calvin is in Illinois and I am in California, and I don’t know when I will see him again in person. I try to stay connected by sending him short videos that I record with my phone. I’ve been lucky to be on the pier in Goleta a couple of times when a giant crane was lifting boats out of the water and putting them on a trailer. I recorded the procedures and narrated them as they were happening. I explained to the guys doing the work that I was making a video for my three-year-old grandson named Calvin and asked them to say “hi” to Calvin. Most of them were happy to comply. My daughter says he loves the videos, and has sent me photos of Calvin watching my videos.
Betsy J Green
We definitely have been triggered by the political news, Covid precautions, and other anxieties. When I find myself stuck with repetitive, useless thought patterns, I appeal to my higher self to assist me in changing my thoughts to healing my relationships with the world and my partner.
We also practice Tai Chi Chih together when we feel tension and need to elevate our spirits. My partner also uses guided relaxation CDs to bring her inner peace. I practice yoga for the same reason.
We like to watch old musicals on tv and sing along, although she knows all the words to all the songs and me not so much. We both play musical instruments and sing our favorite songs as well. Music listening and singing transcends the mundane moments in our lives and soothes our souls.
Not being able to plan or execute major or weekend trips has been especially hard on my partner, so instead, we have been taking short nearby driving excursions to the beach or the mountains. Even driving to Ventura or Santa Barbara to shop for essentials or doctor appointments gives us a break from routine life and is a pleasant diversion, and, of course, we walk the various preserves around our area and pleasant neighborhoods.
We find that preparing and cooking food is a wonderful way to bring us together and enjoy each other’s company. Dining together is of course the big pay off!
We also enjoy working outside together in our gardens and yards and find that is another creative outlet for our energies. It brings us great satisfaction to view our surroundings and provides immediate gratification that brings us peace of mind and joy.
I have to admit I’ve been in sync with my inner peace since before the pandemic and, knock on wood, it hasn’t wavered with the onset of the Covid restrictions.
However, since I’ve been doing census enumerations, my body started to lose its centering. On a hunch, I switched my daily variety of YouTube workouts to mostly Qi Gong. Never done it or Tai Chi before. Now I’m hooked and feel continually revived and in harmony with both my outer joints and inner organs. I hesitate to say the hideous pandemic has been a blessing for me, but it has caused detente between my physical and spiritual self…
What refreshes our spirit? Tremendous gratitude for everything we have and especially each other. We practice gratitude during our weekly Mastermind meetings. Throughout the day we also very often express our love for each other in a very present way. Also, interacting with the beautiful children that surround our living area. They remind us to be innocent and playful. Lastly, getting out in Nature as much as possible.
What brings us peace? Total acceptance of “what is” without labeling, judging or attempting to “fix” what appears to be “broken”. Staying in our Heart.
How do we stay present while remaining alert to what is happening? By literally practicing Presence (a deep state of Awareness without judgement, expectations, distraction or attachments and centered in our Hearts)as much as possible throughout the day – and especially when chaos shows its head. Staying connected to friends and family, avoiding toxic news and just doing our work (i.e. chop wood, carry water) to the best of our ability.
Jacqueline & Michael
Photo credit: Phil Mayes