How To Be Happy With What Is- Especially while on lock down at home – Coronavirus edition

Lorne, Australia So many of us are caught up in what is lacking in our lives and we despair. Typically it’s about money, weight, relationship, and career. And we think it’s an external circumstance, something over which we have little to no control.

But this is not the truth. The truth is that what is happening in our lives are just circumstances. It is completely neutral. It’s our thoughts about them that we have control over and that make these neutral circumstances into something good or bad.

[ Side note: None of the following is really original. I’ve synthesized the following from teachers I really admire and follow, Brooke Castillo at the Life Coach School, Martha Beck, Eckhart Tolle, Christine Kane, and Gerald Epstein, MD. I’m writing this by standing on the shoulders of giants and great teachers.]

Example: Feeling A Lack Of Money

Let’s take an easy to understand and nearly universal worry- lack of money- as our example. So you’re in debt, you don’t have enough to pay your bills, and you look around and all you can think about is how much better life would be with more money. Those thought, that you need more money, that you don’t have what you need, that you’re stuck in lack makes you feel something along the lines of feeling angry, scared, and powerless about how to “get” more money in your life. By feelings those feelings, your resulting actions likely aren’t calm, powerful, focused or motivated. You’re likely stressed out and avoiding feeling your feelings and overeating, overdrinking, and using other buffering mechanisms to avoid what you think is your reality. And the result is likely a continuation of the same circumstances because you’re not feeling empowered or peaceful to try to truly address your desire for money.

Another Way To Be With Your Circumstances -Acceptance

So you don’t have enough money to pay your bills. This is truth. This is fact. It’s your current circumstance. The real power you have is how you think about this fact. You can either choose thoughts about your circumstance that empower and serve you or you can choose thoughts that disempower and don’t serve you. This is where your power lies.

Choose Thoughts That Empower You

Instead of feeling stressed and lack about your money, recognize that the outer circumstances in your life often reflect your inner life circumstances and in those circumstances lie gifts to awaken and teach you to greater truths about yourself and how the world operates. Often it boils down to the truth that you’re feeling lack so you’re outwardly experience lack.

And please be clear about what I’m saying. It’s not your “fault”. You’re not to blame and no one is saying you could have done better. Be clear that sometime the universe takes an opportunity to really grind you down and use your worst fears to help you learn a lesson that will ultimately free you and help you grow. But it’s not something you chose and it’s not something you need to feel bad about having in your life And you get to be scared and overwhelmed and worried and horrified as you confront some of your worst fears, that evoke shame, deep seated fears of not being enough, not being good enough, not having enough, and more. This is heavy stuff and not something to be trivialized. Give yourself total permission to feel all your feelings. Take the time you need to allow yourself a full freak out and be compassionate with yourself. The shizzle is getting real. After a bit of time being honest with yourself and your feelings, it’s time to start to use your superpowers to help you change your thoughts and the resulting feelings.

Just realize that your thoughts about your circumstances are all that you can control. it’s not your fault the coronavirus is ravaging the world. It’s not your fault you were raised in a family that taught that money is bad or that only evil people want to earn a lot of money. This is simply where you are. Be clear. Don’t blame and don’t avoid.

Once you can get clear, start to use your own superpower and begin to consciously upgrade the way you think about your outward circumstances. Perhaps you can start to honestly catalogue all the ways this lack of money has been helpful to you. For me, I see that when my cash flow got low, I saw how much power I gave to worry and stress over money and how much I relished being a victim of this. That I didn’t learn about money from my parents, that it wasn’t my fault and I needed to be rescued by someone outside of me. Every thought raced through my head -except the one that this was something I had the power to change.

Lack of money has also helped me be clear about how much fear I had around lack, how much money I was spending on non-essential items, and how much I was using avoidant behavior to not be truthful about how I could actually change my circumstance. And that I would sacrifice my happiness, my time, and autonomy on getting a job to bring in money, even if I hated the job. I gave my deep desire for money a lot of power in my life.

Can You Find Your Way to Being Grateful?

Truly, I’ve also gotten to the place where I’m grateful for when I’ve felt financial lack. (And I’ve definitely had moment of financial lack, big scary thoughts about it.) What can it teach you and how much more powerful are you once you’ve truly learned all that the lack of money can teach you?

For me, I’ve prayed for years for clarity of my mindset and to be shown all of my blind spots. ALL of them. Before my daily morning mediation, I ask the Divine Beloved to tear down the veil of my ignorance so that I can truly SEE. I’ve learned to be so grateful for the lack of financial abundance that can stick around for seemingly forever. I’ve gotten clear about the worst that can happen. I can go bankrupt. I can lose my house. And instead of being the image of financial success to my family and friends, I’d be an example of how to lose it all. I see that I care what people think and I want to considered a success by others in all thing.

I went all the way down the rabbit hole. So I could go bankrupt. What does that look like? How do I feel about it? I could lose my house. What does that look like? What would I do? I go to the worst case scenarios and I get clear about what can happen. And really it’s simply that I’ll have to feel feelings, like shame and fear. But I can handle that. I could handle starting over, if it were ever to come to that. And I’m so grateful for the clarity the truth brings.

Choosing Better Thoughts

After getting clear about how you’ve been thinking and starting to perhaps even be grateful for your circumstances, it’s now time to find better thoughts about what is happening to: empowering thoughts that serve you well. If better, more empowering thoughts initially elude you, then ask yourself empowering questions about the situation.

For example, you can’t think of a better thought around the pile of debt you have. So ask yourself a question that helps your mind do something for you. Your mind is constantly searching for what to do and how to get things done. So send it off to ponder on questions that will help you. Like: How can I think better about this? How can I invite more money into my life? What are things and feelings I can have or do that will help me? And then let your mind go and you likely will have great answers in short order, especially if you sleep on it. Boom, you’re awake and your mind will probably be serving you up answers to your empowering questions.

Better Thoughts Mean Better Feelings

Once you consciously choose different thoughts that serve and empower you around money, then the feelings that result from those thoughts will serve and empower you as well. If you have a thought like: money is just a circumstance and I can make changes in my life in ways I never considered, the feelings that follow will likely be calm, powerful, happy and inspired. This type of feeling will allow you to take more powerful, even inspired action on the issue. And you’ll get ideas about how to change (or accept) your circumstance.

Be Willing To Follow Through

Your mind may serve up thoughts: ideas and inspiration that scare the socks off of you. You’ll have to try something new. You’ll have to put yourself out there and you may get rejected, you may fail, and your family and friends may think you’re nuts. None of that matters. Understand that following through on the power of your inspiration is what will lead you to increasing amounts of joy in your life, a better feeling about your life, and likely to more abundance.

Savor the Journey

In this example, you desperately wanted more money. And you think you’ll only happen once you have all the money you wanted. But in reality, you can start to enjoy the feeling of having the money once you decide that you will have more money and allow it in.

Do you remember, as a child, how much you enjoyed the entire month of December because of the anticipation of Christmas Day? (for those of you who celebrated Christmas- use your memories of your birthday if that works better for you). The whole month, you dreamed of Christmas day. All the presents, the food, the magical day. And it really peaked on Christmas Eve, knowing Santa was riding out that night ready to give you presents. And how was Christmas Day? It was often pretty awesome but it never truly did compare to the anticipation, did it? The same will be when you have all the money you need. Enjoy the build up. Enjoy knowing that you’re going to have a lot of money in the same way you knew that you were going to be getting presents. There wasn’t any fear or desperation around Christmas. It was all joy and anticipation. That’s the feeling you’re going for so cultivate thoughts around money/abundance that give rise to joy and light anticipation.

Don’t Forget to Visualize

Visualization is a powerful tool. Find visualizations that work for you and make you feel light and airy and joyful. Don’t get bogged down in the details of how the money will arrive.

Some examples of visualizations for abundance or prosperity are:

Imagine a body of water so vast it’s all you can see. Feel the water. See it lapping at the shore at your feet. Then slip into the water and float in its vastness. Feel the water slip into your pores and maybe even drink it up. I personally slip under the water and feel it enter into my lungs and ears and my eyes. And then feel that the water is abundance and it is vast and surrounds you at all time. You just have to let it in.

One that really works for me is that I can see a rushing river of cash flowing down from some place in the sky into my left hand and a slightly smaller river flowing out my right hand. For me, I know that I’ll be spending and donating the money so allowing the energy of abundance flow though me. This gives me the joy and anticipation feelings I mention above.

Be sure to get the flutter of emotion that lets you know the visualization is locked in and feels true and exciting to your subconscious. Check out Epstein’s page for some great visualizations.

Call on the Divine Beloved

As always, ask for help and guidance. Pray for it. Ask for it. Follow the inspiration. Tosha Silver has some great prayers on asking for help from the Divine Beloved, if that’s your jam.

Follow the inspiration you get. That’s key. Don’t stay stuck with your statue quo. Be willing to do things differently.

Keep working on your thoughts

Of course, you’ll have to keep working on your thoughts when you notice thoughts arise that are disempowering. It’s natural that your brain will freak out about circumstances without training to think empowering thoughts. Notice when you have thoughts that don’t serve you. Change them up.

You got this. You can do it. It’s what you were born to do: learn from your circumstances and follow your heart.

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A Few Ways to Make Self Isolation Work For You- Being At Home During the Coronavirus COVID-19

After a week of two of freaking out and moving from that to acceptance, I think a healthy next step is to look at what good can come of being isolated and at home. I know that for some this means a total loss of income and for other this means a total loss of cherished routines, connection, space from children and partners, and so much more. Yes, there is often much loss going on right now. But there can and should be some good things that can come from this.

I think you can look at the next 30 days (Virginia just implemented a 30 day lock down so I’m going to use that as an example). I’ve personally be social distancing for nearly two weeks already so this will be about 7 weeks of social distancing. Gulp.

#1 – Stop feeding your mind with scenarios of doom, virus statistics, and negative input without also consciously feeding it an equal amount of uplifting and positive input to help you maintain your mental health.

Of course you’re going to want to stay connected to what’s going on. But if you spend an hour on FB or Insta and an hour researching the daily statistics, then you’ll also need to spend two hours on positive input. That’s four hours a day which is nearly impossible so cut out the time you’re spending researching the doom and gloom and on social media. Instead, cut it down to one hour and then spend one hour a day on the positive angle. I suggest spending a half hour a day listening to Brooke Castillo’s podcasts where she’s helping put what’s happening into perspective through describing what the brain does in times of danger and stress and ways to reframe the problem. Highly recommend! Then find another 30 minutes of uplifting content, from Marie Forleo to Martha Beck to sitting in meditation and quieting your mind.

You can also plug into the Mystery and the Divine for 30 minutes or longer using the techniques I wrote about in this post. All of it will help your mind from going all flight or fight on you.

#2 – Set up a goal for the next 30 days that you want to accomplish.

For me, I’ve decided that because I can no longer head out and do my daily yoga, I will use this next 30 days to build up my home practice.

I’ll be honest in that, although I’ve spent years practicing yoga, I don’t actually have any of the pose sequences memorized. I just rely on my teachers to guide me and keep me moving. But now, I’m going to learn a 90 minute sequence by heart so that I can have the sequences memorized when I return to group classes when this ends. I’ll start with surya namaskara A, then B, then C (the sun salutations), then some balancing poses, some stretching poses and end with shivasana.

I love balancing half moon and wounded deer poses so I’ll be sure those and some of my faves and my least faves are included.

I have some old injuries and I’m going to add in some strengthening routines so I can strengthen and stretch my core muscles, including my core, my psoas, my hip flexors. A recent visit to a physical therapist revealed that I haven’t been engaging my transverse abdonminis muscle (TVA) so I’m going to slow down with my yoga and exercise routines to ensure I’m engaging my TVA.

I’m also going to prioritize ensuring healthy eating habits because I know that I have a tendency to eat out of stress and boredom. So even if I don’t lose any weight over the next month, I can at least not gain weight.

#3- Notice What Habits and Mindsets You Have That No Longer Serve You

So I’ve begun to dig into the positives that can be revealed by this time of slowing down. I see how much I’ve rushed around in my life trying to get the kids here, this shopping done there, and meet self-imposed deadlines. And none of it was required. I see that even when this is over I can slow down and let some of the busy-ness go.

What have you noticed about your life that you can see changing?

Yes, this quarantine can have some positive outcomes too, (besides the health one).

Hugs to us all.

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Your Brain on Social Media (especially during the coronavirus situation)

School of fish in the Melbourne Aquarium As the coronavirus takes up more of social media and in our lives, a lot of people are finding themselves on their phones and in their apps a lot more than before. And a lot of the data and posts are of doom and gloom. This is a perfect storm and invitation for your mind to get stirred up and then addicted to the drama and danger being presented by the media, the stock market, by your friends.

This post is intended to help you remember that your brain is literally designed to focus on danger signals, that your brain makes up stories in the absence of an alternative narrative, and that you don’t have to believe your thoughts. I hope this post also helps you recognize when you’re in the middle of a thought storm and how to detach from it and to give you ideas about how to calm down and get centered despite what’s going on around you.

Remember that our brains are designed to focus on danger signals. That is how it saves our lives. But danger is supposed to be a short-lived experience, not a slow, long-winded, building tsunami of a disaster that lasts week or months. But with social media and the internet, we now can see the information coming from China long before the coronavirus officially arrived on our shores. The brain fixates and makes up stories about the danger. [Note, I’m not saying that there isn’t danger or that what is happening isn’t true- just that your brain is making up future stories for you to fear]. The stories your brain is making up, about how someone in family will get sick, you’ll lose your job, the economy will tank, and on and on. That MAY be true in the future. But it’s likely not true now. And worrying about a future that may or may not arrive keeps you out of calm, presence, and coming from a place of fear and lack rather than calm and clear.

You don’t have to believe your thoughts. The first step is detaching from your thoughts. Notice what is happening in your brain. What thoughts are compulsively coursing through your mental screen? There is a circumstance: the coronavirus is novel and is likely in your country and your locality. How you think about that is entirely up to you. On the one hand, you can think fearful thoughts and feel and act fearful. Or you can think calm thoughts and feel calm and peaceful.

As examples: fearful thoughts: the coronavirus is going to rampage through my country. Millions will die. The economy will tank. There’s no good options here. Resulting fearful emotions: ahhh, this is horrible and I have to do something so I’m going to spend all my time looking at the data for virus, buy more than I need to, and drink and eat too much to help me feel better about my scary thoughts and emotions.

Calm thoughts: the coronavirus is going spread through my country, like all countries. I will learn what I need to in this momentand know that sooner or later this will pass. And there is little about this I can control so I will accept what is, in this moment, in this moment, and in this moment. Resulting calm emotions: presence, loving acceptance of what is right now.

You can also use this time to learn about how your brain starts to engage your flight or fight system and how to detach from this state. The easiest way to understand how your brain and body are reacting is to notice your breath. Is your breath shallow and fast? Are you having a harder time than usual catching your breath?

If so, then take the time to deepen and length your breath. Breathe in deeply, perhaps to a count of 6 and then focus on lengthening the out breath, to perhaps a count of 8. Do this and feel the calm return. Keep doing it as often as is necessary.

For a few days, I’ve been buffering against my thoughts by being on social media a lot more than usual and binge watching Madame Secretary (which I’d never seen before). I caught the feeling of my brain swirling around faster and faster, like a rabid squirrel trying to get up all the trees at the same time. And the top of my skull feels hotter too, figuratively. Now that I’ve noticed this, I’ve put screen time controls on my phone and consciously spent time with my phone plugged in far from me. I can feel time slowing down, that I’m able to be much more present, and my attention span is almost a long as it has been in the past.I’ve also stopped drinking and eating to feel better. Crucially, I gave myself permission that a few days of getting used to our new normal is going to take a few days. With love and understanding, I allowed myself a few days to wallow and get a bit lost in the drama of the moment.

But I know it’s not profitable to wallow too long. Getting lost in the drama doesn’t help me be a better parent to my kids, a better partner, or make better choices about what to do with our free time. Walking in the woods, jigsaw puzzles, and finally learning to play the piano come to mind as better ways to spend the passing time.

No matter what situation you find yourself in, remember to be in that situation. Not one created by your mind about a near future that hasn’t yet come to pass. You’ll know that you’re creating a story about some imagined future because you’ll be stressed. True emergencies don’t evoke stories. In true emergencies, all you have is the moment . Believe in your power to effect change in the moment you have, which is to accept this moment, this moment, and this moment. Plan ahead as needed and then let it go.

Above all, be kind to yourself as you process changes. Blaming yourself or being cruel won’t help anyone. Keep detaching from your thoughts and breathing deeply, as necessary.

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Coronavirus and Your MENTAL Health

Can you get in a solitary walk today? Right now, the world feels quite chaotic. It seems like it is at best a swirl of uncontrollable chaos and at worst, a seeming death spiral of plague, financial loss, and social isolation. Heavy heavy stuff.

As you may know, our minds are designed to fixate on potential threats. It’s constantly scanning for “what’s going on?”, “what’s going on?”, and “what’s going on?” That its job and it is designed to keep us safe from potential threats. And that’s a good thing.

The problem is that our brain then keeps pushing us for more data on this threat and stories get made up in our minds about future catastrophes. And you know you’re in a false emergency when your mind is giving you a story about future bad (or good) things.

A true emergency reveals itself through the LACK of story. When you’re in a real emergency, stories drop away. Hand wringing stops. You’re actually more in the midst of calm as your mind drops away and you’re left with pure presence as you deal with the immediate threat to your safety. Everything else is just a story that is likely not true.

For me, I saw that I started to fixate on the lack of testing. I wanted to know why the US wasn’t testing, how we got here, and who made the decision to not accept the WHO testing kits. Also, I wanted to know how South Korea could be testing something like 10,000 people per day and we had something like 4600 total tested. I went deep down the rabbit hole and spent hours chasing down various news sources. So now I have a better sense of how we got here. But how does knowing about our testing problems and delays help?

I see now that I was using the testing kits as a proxy to try to control the covid-19 chaos. If I understood how many people had, I could understand its trajectory in the US, and even how long this would last. Of course that’s all false. I don’t know what’s going to happen with additional testing data.

And I do know that all the time I spent on my phone on Facebook and searching news sites meant I wasn’t here in the present. I wasn’t spending time with my kids. And I was distracted enough by these swirling thoughts in my mind that I forgot a lot of things on my list when I was at the store.

Knowing how my mind is designed to focus on threats is so helpful. Now that I know what it does, I can accept that and also detach from the stories my mind is building to support my focusing on the threat.

I also noticed that I’m experiencing high anxiety because my mind is focusing on the coronavirus and I haven’t been present to my own body and its needs. Sensing this, I began to deliberately detach from my thoughts and can see them swirling in my mind, bumping into each other, speeding up and getting frenzied. My breath is also affected and I find myself breathing far more shallowly than I have been. My attention span is incredibly short right now.

And none of this is helpful in any way. It’s unnecessary anxiety. So I accepted my mind for what it does, loved it for protecting me, and put the grown up in charge.

The plan for today is immensely reduce my time on social media and on news sites. There’s almost nothing more that I can do to plan or prepare for this. We’ve been practicing social distancing for nearly a week now. We have enough shelf stable food to last for a few months. I have the ability to exercise and do yoga at home. I can instead deepen my practice of being present and detach from any future or past thoughts.

My thoughts are already slowing. My anxiety is already much lessened. I feel so much more capable and relaxed.

If this sounds good to you, I recommend that you do the following:

#1 – recognize your thoughts and start to detach from them. You are not your thoughts and you don’t have to believe your thoughts (likely of doom and gloom future events). But the first step is to actually identify them as they cross your mental screen.

#2- drop your stories. Get the data you need about the virus. Make a plan for your family in terms of food, supplies, medical needs and then follow the plan. And then drop any story in your mind about future catastrophe. Just drop it. Don’t feed it. Don’t follow it. Just drop it as soon as you become aware of it.

#3- limit your time on social media and your phone. Others are likely still caught up in their future stories and are fearful. Limit your exposure to it. And put your phone down and be here now.

#4- practice calming techniques. Sit in stillness and silence. Take long deep breaths in and even longer breaths out. Like count to 6 on your in breath and 8 on your out breath. This activates your parasympathetic nervous system and allows your body to drop out of flight or fight and into rest and relaxation. Take a solitary walk in nature, while still practicing social distance.

These feel like scary times. But only because you’re thinking about them that way. Understand that your thoughts about the entire circumstances drive your feelings and your actions. Practice creating better thoughts about these circumstance and your feelings and actions will be better and serve you better.

Hugs and much love to you.

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How To Manifest a Million Dollars by Inviting in the Sacred

Lotus flower

Want to earn a million dollars? But feel icky about it because it doesn’t feel spiritual? Feeling super selfish about your desire for more money?

This is often a tough one for people who are looking to make the world a better place,who want to slow down and make a soulful connection with others in their community and the world.

But wow, a million bucks would really be helpful. The lure of money continues to pull at you. I get it because it’s true. Money does solve a lot of problems. Need to eat? Money helps you buy food. Need some health care? Money helps you afford the care you and your family needs. I’m sure not many are conflicted about that level of income. It’s the idea of more many than you “need”. But here are a few different viewpoints on money to consider.

New Idea #1: In order to feel selfish and icky about money, you have to believe at some level that money and abundance is a zero sum game. In order words, for you to have a million dollars, someone else wouldn’t have it. This doesn’t have to be the case. By allowing for true abundance, you can intend for all beings to feel and have abundance as well. As they say, you can’t help others be and feel abundant by intending a lack of abundance in your own life.

New Idea #2: Be a conduit for abundance. Recognize that you can earn and give away some portion of your income. Let’s say you decide to give away 20% of your income. The more you make the more you can give away. You can also set up “your number” that you want to make each year and then give away the rest. So let’s say your number is $1M. Each year you will keep $1M out of all you make. And if you earn $10M a year, you’d be giving away 90% of your income. It’s definitely a different perspective.

#3 Commit to being an amplifier of the Divine’s abundance. For me, intending abundance in my life, especially about large amounts of money, feels wonderful when I also visualize all the good I’ll be doing with it. For example, the jobs I would be providing by hiring people to work on my house, hiring people to work with me, giving money away to charity, and following my intuition about how to save and spend it.

I follow Tosha Silver and she has a great book called, It’s Not Your Money. And she helped me to really understand the concept that money is just energy that comes and goes. But it’s not my money, it’s the Divine’s. I can’t take money with me when I do and it’s not something to horde. Abundance comes to me when I’m aligned with it and it falls away when I’m not.

It’s ok to have money. Choose to be a force for good and use it wisely and lovingly.

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