April Blog: Keep Your Peace – Writing for Trying Times

Navigating through these recent times has been nothing short of unsettling. We have gotten into a cycle of waking to hopeful hearts and a fleeting sense of normalcy. It is the kind of normalcy that makes us believe that the life we knew previously has regenerated; as though our society has recovered its balance and homeostasis has been restored. But the realization of this new reality soon sinks in, creating a hollow space where hope once was. The cassette rewinds and the tape plays back. It seems to be Groundhog Day… Again, and again, and again.

Nonetheless, we rise and we attempt to establish a new perspective of the world as one that fits inside the walls of our homes. We learn to connect on a virtual level; solely through screens and never through touch. We watch the news or we avoid it, simply because it’s all too overwhelming and terrifying. We work. We rest. We’re hopeful and then we’re struck with fear. The cassette plays back. Groundhog Day resumes.

These cyclical feelings of being trapped are wreaking anxiety in even the calmest of souls across nations. Hopelessness, loneliness, and fear are finding shelter in our hearts. The daunting question we all have been asking ourselves with each passing day is beginning to feel like a mantra: “When will this all end?”
I don’t have the answer. Neither do you or even the most well-regarded scientists, world leaders, and medical professionals. Like most things in life, both simple and complex, we have no control. Our feelings of worry, frustration, and sadness do not provide us any sort of control over these circumstances. I can scream as much as I want at the cars ahead of me–maybe even lose my temper and honk my horn–but that will not cease the bumper-to-bumper traffic. I can curse to the heavens because I am running late to a very important meeting and have no time to be sitting behind a row of cars, and still, I have no control. I can either continue to let anguish and panic consume me or I can beg the question…
Who are these feelings s e r v i n g?

By allowing any sort of negative energy–be it thoughts, sensations, or emotions–about any event to thrive, we are actively choosing to give away our peace. Our peace is such a sacred human experience. Peace is not a place. It is not a product of the mind or the act of being thoughtless. Rather, peace is the sensation that follows when we witness the stillness and bliss within. It is unique to each and every one of us. It is precious and life changing. Our peace keeps us grounded. Our peace provides a sense of openness and it breathes compassion outwardly. By choosing worry and frustration over peace, we opt for a life where worry and frustration are perpetual.

Are your feelings of worry serving you?
Can you let your worry g o ?

When we surrender control, we liberate ourselves. We are consciously releasing thoughts and feelings that do not serve us into a space outside of our bodies, outside of our peace. When we do this, we are halting the stress response and restoring balance within the autonomic nervous system: our hub for the rest and digest and fight, flight, or freeze responses. Soon after the thoughts and feelings dissipate, the body responds accordingly. Our blood pressure decreases and our heart rate slows. Executive functions resume: planning, focus, emotional regulation, and clear thinking. We can begin to breathe deeply again.

This is not to say that you are not right to feel the way you feel. You are. In fact, you have every right to feel panicked and defeated by the ongoing crisis. Acknowledge this worry. Then, ask yourself if the worry serves you. Does your worry promote a healthier sleep cycle? Does your worry aid you in your productivity? Is your worry improving the overall quality of your well-being or is it binding you to something that feels chaotic and inescapable? If so, can you let your worry go?
Instead of continuing the cycle of worry, hopelessness, frustration, and fear, release it. This cycle is not serving you and it is certainly not assisting in developing a vaccine for the virus or curing sick people. All the cycle is doing is stealing your peace. But if you choose to keep your peace, you soon realize how drastically life changes. You see beauty where there were ashes. You hear birds instead of chatter. You might find that you even become more kind. Your peace is an everflowing channel whose path must move outward. When you choose peace, you choose compassion too. The two are eternally interconnected. The world is in a place where it can use all of the loving kindness it can grasp. While it seems as though you cannot contribute to positive change during these times, you can always offer your heart. While you do not have control over much, you do have control over your peace.

Set the intention that no matter what disturbance may come your way, you are going to keep your peace. Promise yourself that despite all of the updates on the news and all of the noise of the outside world, you will find stillness. After all, your peace is the most precious gift your body and mind know. To give it away would be such a shame. The journey is not easy, as it is much easier to give your peace away than it is to keep it. The path of release requires constant practice to feel and maintain peace. It takes but a simple reaction to stress to give it all away. That is why peace is so precious; it must be protected and guarded at all costs. While these efforts may seem daunting, do not give up. Instead, set the intention each day to invite peace in. Practice gratitude. What are you thankful for during these trying times that grounds you in your peace? Breathe deeply. The breath is so powerful, it calms any and every physiological response in the body. Be kind to the self. Wash your hands. Go for a walk. Donate to families in need. Support essential workers. Stay home. Find peace in knowing that like you, everyone is experiencing this circumstance and that this circumstance will subside in due time. You can either spend this time in worry or spend this time in peace. The choice is yours.

Be well.

Briana Shea, BA BS

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