“The Peace of Wild Things”
When despair for the world grows in me and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief.I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars waiting with their light.
For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
© Wendell Berry. This poem is excerpted from The Selected Poems of Wendell Berry and is reprinted with permission of the author and Counterpoint Press.
No matter how desperately our minds seek the illusion of control, uncertainty is an inescapable way of life. Occasionally things happen that make this more obvious. You see, most people want to believe they know how things are, know what will happen, and know the answers to life’s questions — related to others, work, finances, health, spirituality, and life circumstances. Believing this gives us a sense of control over our lives — but this sense is an illusion. We have no control over anything except our own choices. Believing we have this knowledge — this control — makes our mind more comfortable, as it seeks comfort through the creation of form, structure, limitation, and categorical separateness. This illusion emerges out of denial, avoidance, and judgement. Our attempt to keep our mind comfortable comes from our identification with it — we see our mind as being equal to who we are. But is it? I guess much of the answer to this question lies in the definition of mind. I believe mind means our material consciousness — that generated by our brain. I believe the mind is like a computer — there to help us process and communicate information, and then to be turned off when our work is done. Believing that we are our mind is like believing that our identity is equal to our iPhone, Galaxy, or MacBook. They can be more or less powerful, vary in size, be different colors, or come in an abundance of styles — which can reflect our personality and choices; and they can work better sometimes than others; but they are not who we are.
Do we spend most of our lives trying to make our computer more comfortable by fabricating illusion, fiction, & fantasy for it to cling to? If we did, how would this impact our effectiveness with other things? If our PC experiences a critical problem, then we receive a notification and can follow the prompts to deal with it. Our negative emotions were designed to work like this for us — to be an emergency alert system when our lives are in danger. Negative emotions were never intended to become a way of life, just as the mind was never intended to be associated with our identity. So the bottom line is that we should not be trying to make our mind more comfortable — we should be using it as a tool, turning it off when our work is done, and then moving beyond it into the non-material consciousness of spirit. If we spend all our time trying to make it more comfortable — as if this is us — then we may never discover who we really are, or find the peaceful acceptance waiting there.
Acceptance is a core course in each person’s life, as each life is a curriculum for the soul. If, as a species, we’re not getting it, then sometimes things happen to wake us up. If we’ve already learned this lesson well, based on the things we’ve experienced so far, then we may be presented with an opportunity to catalyze our growth (advanced lesson). Either way, here we are, so now what?
Acceptance is receiving the truth of that which occurs without resisting it physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. When discovering such resistance, we will often find that it exists across all four of these parameters. Sometimes we will believe we are in a state of acceptance, but may still be resisting — within one or more of these areas — in ways we are unaware. For example, when it comes to the corona virus, we may be accepting of the physical/practical realities of the health risks, economic impact, responsible measures to take, etc.; but we could still be in states of denial mentally and fear emotionally — which could change the decisions we make. Ego defenses, like denial, avoidance, externalizing blame, playing the victim, and bullying are mental mechanisms for resisting truth. Negative emotions, like fear, anger, hurt, doubt, and stress — in the absence of an eminent life-threatening situation — are emotional forms of resistance. So if we are in denial mentally, and want to do something outside the range of safety and responsibility — like spontaneously jumping on a plane because it’s cheap, or partying with the masses during spring break — we might find ourselves more easily justifying doing so. Or if we are overwhelmed with fear, and in this state believe we have nothing to lose; then we might be more likely to do something impulsive — like getting loaded and going for a joy-ride, having unprotected sex, or blowing our savings in a shopping frenzy — that create the very conditions we’re so frightened of, when they probably wouldn’t have occurred otherwise. And such states also weaken our body’s immune system.
Acceptance requires awareness of the truth of what is happening. If our denial blocks it, or our fear buries it; then our mind and negative emotions are creating barriers to truthful acceptance. Throughout recorded history we can find examples of egregiously poor judgment being exercised, and horrifically destructive decisions being made for these reasons. Feel free to share some as comments to this post.
Since such things are harder to see at times like these, yet more important to find; you might want to reach out to a trusted spiritual teacher, life coach, or counselor for assistance. Telehealth services are more available now than ever because of the pandemic. If you’d like to work with me, you can call (808) 961-9999 or email Dr.Kai@alternativeshrink.com.
Coping With Uncertainty
So part of our ability to cope with uncertainty comes from our acceptance of whatever happens. This doesn’t mean sacrificing our rights, needs, values, safety, or dignity. It means incorporating the truth of what is happening into our conceptualizing, planning, and living of life. If part of this truth is that big things are constantly changing in unpredictable ways, then this is part of the truth we need to accept. If this is a lot different than what we’re used to, then we need to adapt to this new-normal as quickly as we can, rather than resisting it by hoping that things will soon go back to normal, or at least to a steady state. Maybe they will — maybe they won’t — but they’re not right now. Right now much is unknown, most is uncertain, and important things are changing all the time. Accepting this will make dealing with it much easier. Things may never be the same again. What is the same for you is different for another anyway, and we all need to move forward toward a new future through acceptance of the way things are right now. I believe it will be brighter, higher, & better.
And whatever you do, do your best to do it with dignity, honor, compassion, truth, and love.
Coping is an individual thing. What helps one may harm another. So if something works for us, great — but we want to be careful not to assume that because it works for us it will work for everyone else. For example, some of the rational-intellectual types — who live behind a defensive wall to avoid being vulnerable — may cope by reading anything/everything they can get their hands on regarding covid19; while those highly emotional types who live in a completely vulnerable state might experience anxiety when reading about it. The former might feel comforted, while the latter might have a panic attack. It is important to choose your coping strategies based on you, not somebody else.
That being said, here are a few articles that could help us cope with the uncertainty we currently face:
Chakratic Hierarchy of Needs
Anxiety and the Brain
Stress No More
Seven Colors of Happiness
Facing Fears of Change
Recognizing and Releasing Our False Self
Breath of Life
Chain of Love
The Secret Sanctuary
Love Is Everything
Other things that could help us cope during this unprecedented time include creativity, hobbies, journaling, meditation, yoga, exercise, spending time in nature, pets, personal growth, spiritual development, reading, and writing. Pull out that old guitar and give it a whirl, sketch your joy in a poem, or brush some watercolors across an empty page. Dig into some woodworking, craft to your heart’s content, or plant your garden full of floral things. Try writing your thoughts and feelings down in a journal. Start a daily breathing meditation, expand your yoga practice, or lift some weights. Take a hike in a sacred place, or pet your furry friend across the hours. Work on overcoming those ineffective habits, or rise above the mind to higher consciousness. Grab that book you’ve been itching to read, and get lost in it. Write to find the reason in the rhyme.
And despite our usual style; we may need to humble ourselves, set our pride aside, and accept some help in order to keep things going.
A Personal Note
As someone who gradually lost his external vision over time, I learned to focus on what I can do — not what I can’t. What I realized is that there are more things that we can do in our lifetime than we would ever have time to complete — so why focus on anything else. This is an element of acceptance. By adopting this philosophy, we will thrive in life and everything we do.
I personally meditate, lift weights, do cardio, connect with nature, sketch music, craft poetry, write articles, get massages, take supplements, and care for others to help me cope. It works for me. What works for you?
I believe this global crisis could startle humanity into a mass awakening to higher consciousness. If we let go of our attachment to material world things, then we are free to ascend to higher spiritual things — like a hot air balloon when unshackled from its mooring. Maybe it will open the door to our dreams, or remove the illusion of a ceiling, allowing us to rise up through the stars into the conscious universe. Limitations are a mind-made thing. In spirit they don’t exist.
Take My Hand
I finished writing a song in December, and started recording it in January. It’s a country song, and I’m loving how it feels. I was planning to wait and share the final version with you after it was mixed and mastered, but the production of “Take My Hand” has been delayed by COVID-19. Still have the female harmony/background vocals to record, and then the mixing and mastering; but wanted to go ahead and share a rough mix with you now, since I have no idea when I’ll be able to finish up the song. Check it out in the audio player, or by clicking on this link.
“Take My Hand” is my personal favorite of all my songs, sketching southern silhouettes of a sweet and timeless love — like my favorite movie “The Notebook.” It’s dedicated to my parents and grandparents, and inspired by the girl I’ve yet to find. I’ve already been asked to play it for a wedding in December — and who knows, maybe I’ll play it for my own.
Photo credit: Jen R