For Your Soul in These Times

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PART 1: Peace to Calm Your Fears
The first in a series of reflections to nourish your soul through the global pandemic crisis.

Clenched jaw. Tossing and turning at 2 am. Distraction. Are you experiencing them, friends? I certainly am.

As our world confronts this constantly changing pandemic health crisis, I want to share an empowering practice that can bring calm, peace, and healing to you and to our world.

But first, it’s helpful to understand that most of us are experiencing fear, which is manifesting itself in a variety of ways. Fear is a natural and necessary part of our evolutionary make-up. It helps us survive. Fear tells us to run from a burning building or from predators we encounter. Like the coronavirus. When we sense danger, the body generates a fight or flight response. Our hearts beat faster, our pupils become dilated, we breathe rapidly, our blood pulses, and sometimes our hands and faces tingle. These reactions are all natural responses to danger as our bodies prepare to meet the threat.

Our minds and bodies cannot maintain the continual state of fight or flight. Over time, this stress response impacts our entire well-being, leading to things like high blood pressure, changes in our brain, and weakened immunity. Not a healthy or sustainable way to live.

You can diffuse fear’s power by tending your soul.

Beneath the surface, your soul has a deep sense of calm and peace. Your soul is that divine aspect of you, your essence, that spark of God you are born with. It is the source of deep love. Your soul lives in a constant state of peace, the peace that surpasses all understanding. This loving, eternal part of yourself cannot be taken from you. It is always there.

This is why we all need spiritual practices—everyday tools to tend our souls.

So I want to share a practice that’s been quite meaningful for me. I have a hard time meditating in the classic sense, as many do. But this a relaxation prayer, an easy “go-to” — helps me find peace and calm. I hope it helps you.

Rest in love. Take a few moments to breathe, and repeat these words (slowly is best):

Rest in love…

Rest in love…

Rest in love…

This practice was inspired by one of my favorite books: Frank Ostaseski’s The Five Invitations: Discovering What Death Can Teach Us About Living Fully.

A wise and compassionate end-of-life leader, Frank Ostaseski tells the story of a man named Carl who was in hospice, struggling with intense pain. While battling his pain, these words rose up from some innate place within him: “Rest in love.” From then on, Carl repeated these words whenever he felt overwhelmed. He learned to draw from this inner resource. As Carl encountered pain, fear, or anxiety, he said, “Rest in love.” As he pushed his morphine pump, he repeated to himself, “Rest in love, rest in love.” As his wife fidgeted anxiously by his bedside, Carl reached through his bedrails, touched her lightly, and said, “Rest in love, my dear. Rest in love.”

Carl’s story moved me deeply. I sensed that resting in love was something I needed. It was. And it still is, especially in these times.

These words have become a practice that renews my mind, body, and spirit. When I rest in love, I’m no longer striving or stressing. As I relax into love and come to a place of rest, I imagine warm, loving light surrounding me. Sometimes I envision loving beings around me, including loved ones who have passed. Peace seems to bubble up from within. My jaw unclenches. The concerns that previously occupied my attention fade to the background. I am calmer. I am reminded that peace is here. Peace is always here.

Thank you, Carl, for your words that keep on giving.

So friends, in these times, I invite you to acknowledge and calm your fear with an internal strength you already possess. Tap into your inner resource of peace.

Rest in love. Rest in love, my dears. Rest in love.

With blessings and love for your wellbeing,

Mabeth

 

 

A Good Contagious

On a whole new scale, we are being reminded about the contagious nature of viruses and colds. It’s the perfect opportunity to remember that goodness is contagious too. You can spread kindness, generosity, peace, and love with every encounter.

As I was studying a map showing the outbreak and global spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), I wondered: What would it look like if we could see the “hot spots” of love and compassion? What if we could see how lives are transformed by simple acts of kindness? What if we could see how one generous act like letting go of a grudge or resentment could impact others?

con·ta·gious (adjective)

  1. (of a disease) spread from one person or organism to another by direct or indirect contact
  2. (of an emotion, feeling, or attitude) likely to spread to and affect others.

In my work as a spiritual wellness leader, I’ve learned that good stuff and bad stuff are contagious. We touch others on a daily basis and those interactions are impactful. It’s not surprising that fear is contagious. But here’s good news: research has shown that generosity, kindness, compassion, and courage are all contagious too!

For example, one study from Berkeley reveals that seeing someone perform an act of kindness gives you an uplifting, warm and fuzzy feeling. This “moral elevation” is something that we experience when in the presence of goodness. Moral elevation inspires acts of generosity, optimism, and altruism in and towards others. Additionally, it actually builds your physical immunity, helping your body repel nasty germs.

If you want to go deeper, check out this article about social networks.

How can you be contagious in a good way?

Yes, pay attention to the CDC’s advice to wash your hands and take other common-sense steps. Practice thoughtful response rather than fear-based reactions. Spread goodness through small gestures of kindness such as making eye contact, smiling at strangers, saying thank you often, and reaching out to someone who needs to be uplifted by calling them or sending a card.

Here are more practical ways to contribute to the healing of the world in a good contagious way:

  • As you are washing your hands for 20 seconds, offer a prayer for everyone who is sick (those you know and those you don’t know).
  • As you are listening to the news, offer a prayer for calm, peace, and healing.
  • Practice a Loving-Kindness meditation that sends light and love out to all the corners of our world. Grounded in the Buddhist tradition, there are many variations of this prayer that spreads compassion and healing. Below is one that we’ve practiced at Well for the Journey

What is one thing you can do to bring goodness and love to others today? Do that. Spread the good stuff.

Blessings and love,

Mabeth

 

 LOVING KINDNESS MEDITATION

It’s best to take your time to practice this meditation, but you can go at your own pace. And if you only have a few minutes, that’s ok- a little light and love goes a long way!

Find a comfortable sitting position. Place your feet on the ground. Relax and settle your mind.

 Begin by focusing on your breathing. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth.

 Find the place of tender, loving kindness inside your heart (it doesn’t matter what you call it: Love, Light, Divine, Spirit, etc.). Feel the warmth, light, tenderness, and affection within your heart. Bathe in this warm light. Give thanks.

 Drawing upon this source of love, bring to mind someone you deeply care about- a relative, friend, or even a pet. Send loving kindness toward this being. Send them warm light from the center of your heart.

 Now bring to mind a casual friend or colleague, someone just beyond your inner circle. Send loving kindness toward him/her. Send him/her warm light from the center of your heart.

 Continue drawing from your inner source of tender, loving kindness…that light and love.

 Bring to mind someone about whom you feel neutral or indifferent, a stranger.

Send loving kindness toward them. Send them warm light from the center of your heart.  

Remember someone who has hurt you or someone you struggle to like. Bless them. Send them your love. Send them warm light from the center of your heart.

 Gather all these people and yourself into the stream of love and hold them here for a few moments.

Finally, let the flow of loving kindness widen to encompass all beings in the universe. Radiate your feelings of warmth, tenderness, love, and light out to the world and universe.

 Conclude with a simple thank you or Amen.