When I wrote the book, Sustainable Health: Simple Habits to Transform Your Life, I was surprised to learn just how profoundly Sleep affects our immune system, our health, and vitality – even more than Eating, more than exercise.
Fear. It’s everywhere – like water. We’re afraid of the dark, the unknown, and most especially an unseen virus called Covid-19, that has shaken our faith in science, our leaders, and the natural world.
So how can we let go of fear?
Number 1: Turn off the news!!!
You know there’s a virus. You know that we still need to shelter in place, wash our hands, and keep our distance from those who do not live with us.
You don’t know when this will be over, what will happen to the economy, and what our “new normal” will look like. Neither do all those talking heads on the news. Why let them scare us or fill us with a false sense of security?
One of my friend’s boyfriend got Covid -19 a few weeks ago. He refused to go to a hospital and his doctor supported that decision. They had a rocky, three weeks in a, very nice, but relatively small apartment in Manhattan. How did they get through it? My friend washed the sheets and the apartment every day. She made him use his C-Pap machine eight hours a day – and at night. She turned off the news for two weeks. Tough stuff for a news junkie. But he made it.
Turn off the news. Especially turn off the news any time of day when you would not drink coffee or another caffeinated beverage. That goes double for the late-night comedy news. Watch it on replay in the morning. It does the same thing to your nervous system as a jolt of caffeine. It jacks up our stress hormones and puts us into a fight or flight response that revs the heartrate, causes shallow breathing, and depresses our ability to digest food and information that might help us plan something more useful than “freaking out.”
It makes it almost impossible to sleep.
Turn off the news – for two hours before you plan to go to sleep. And go to bed before midnight. Turn down the lights. Do something you enjoy. Play a game with family members. Listen to music or audio books. Read or meditate. Let your body relax.
Tap into water’s natural ability to calm us and soothe our spirits. Take a warm shower or a bath. If you have a rocking chair, sit in it and slowly rock while listening to music or a story. The rocking motion is similar to waves and that motion calms our nervous system.
Avoid backlit screens and moving pictures. Light and movement stimulate our eyes and alert us to be ready to move to capture a meal, or avoid becoming one.
Last week we talked about how watching the movement of the wind through the leaves of plants helps us let go of stress. That’s how Wood energy works. This week we’re talking about Water energy and how it calms us. Shouting, jumping, stamping our feet and having a tantrum releases stress.
Listening to music or stories, rocking, warm baths, and relaxing into sleep helps us let go of fear. Use Wood strategies during the to let go of stress and prepare your body to calm itself with Water strategies.
Number 2: Use Your Imagination!
Imagine The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know is Possible. This will take discipline and practice.
We’ve had 3 weeks of watching how fast this planet heals itself when we humans simply pause our frenetic consumption of resources that leave behind polluting by-products. Our bodies can do the same. They can work just as fast.
Last week we talked about the element of Wood and how having fun, taking a breath of fresh air, and connecting with Plant Consciousness helps us let go of stress, to boost our immune systems and our resilience to Covid 19 and other pathogens. I recommended spending time each day “watching the wind blow” to connect to our conscious universe.
That “eyes-wide-open” meditation practice sets the stage for this next level of meditation, imagining the more beautiful world we want to see. No excuses. We have the time. Focus on some details of that world. Maybe…
…everyone has a “victory garden” full of bees and vegetables in their front lawn.
…children are playing together in playgrounds all over the world.
…we go to neighbors who can make and sell what we need, rather than shopping at impersonal big box stores.
… we play music with friends and have lots of family barbecues and game nights.
… the air is clean because we hardly ever need to drive our cars or fly in planes.
… nearby streams, rivers, lakes and beaches are clean because every weekend we get together with friends and neighbors to collect the trash that has drifted ashore.
…our neighborhoods are clean because we clean up the trash and work together to plant trees and make a safe place for our kids to play.
We don’t have to choose whatever apocalyptic or dystopian future the media pushes on us. We can imagine something we might like better. If you have trouble activating your own imagination, I invite you to sample some “deindustrial science fiction”. Just like Star Trek & Star Wars and all of the high-tech sci-fi of the previous decades fueled today’s tech-marvels, “deindustrial science fiction” seeks to imagine a world where we deal with the hard realities of climate change and resource depletion by imaging social structures that make it possible for people, animals, and plants to thrive in a future world on Earth.
When we find ourselves complaining, that’s when we’re in Fear mode. Moaning and complaining are how we express our fears. Stop. Close your eyes. Imagine the more beautiful world. Breathe. Make it a meditation until you can see the details.
Catch others as well. Imagine for yourself that better world. Share it out loud. Dream big. Dream happy. Life is a movie. You get to choose whether to go to the horror show or laugh your way through a romantic comedy. The romantic comedy will be better for your heart and your health.