During Times of Duress, Try Expanding Your Awareness

It’s really easy to be bombarded with thoughts of doom and dread. The news, your newsfeed, and probably most of your thoughts are being flooded with information about the pandemic, the death tolls, the lack of PPE and the extension of shelter in place order timelines.
As a result, our survival fears are being constantly activated, our emotions are surging, and our general sense of well-being is dwindling by the minute. It’s incredibly easy to get caught in the undertow of fear and hopelessness right now.
Without minimizing the reality we’re facing in response to the COVID-19 pandemic across the planet, I’d like to invite you to experiment with a new kind of daily practice to stabilize the way you’re experiencing this unprecedented moment in time. This practice will allow you to both honor and acknowledge the thoughts, fears and emotions that are very real, relevant and important to your experience while also expanding your awareness to create room for something else: vitality.
I often teach on the topic of life being an “and” experience, meaning this: even when we’re in the midst of painful moments or tough times, there is always ALSO at least a little glimmer of beauty, gratitude, and bits and pieces of joy.
So today, take a moment to experiment with this practice. You’ll need a journal and pen (I always encourage doing this work the analog way with an actual piece of paper in front of you to put your thoughts onto with a pen or colored pencil in hand).
For this practice/exercise, I’m going to request you to try a new kind of intentional language. Instead of writing down your responses to the prompts below in any old everyday kind of language, try starting every sentence with these words: “I am aware…” This is important because it connects you with your observations of yourself and of your experiences, rather than getting tangled up in the judgement of and swirling stories that we are often quick to attach to our experiences. The second thing I’m going to invite you to try is finishing each observational sentence with the words “right now” – using this language helps your intellectual center mindfully acknowledge the reality that this situation is temporary without minimizing the importance of your current experience.
With that in mind, read on:
STEP 1: Write down everything you’re experiencing that feels negative (overwhelming, fearful, unknown, etc). Be sure to write it down as an OBSERVATION of the pain as discussed above. It’ll sound something like this:
I am aware that I’m feeling lonely right now.
I am aware of a sense of constant brain fog right now.
I am aware that I’m feeling like I can’t control anything in my life right now.
STEP 2: Write down everything you can bring awareness to that feels positive (lovely, nostalgic, cozy, safe, etc). Again, be sure to write it down as an OBSERVATION of this vitality experience as discussed earlier. I’ll encourage you to get really, really specific with this part. This will allow you to intentionally identify the experiences, relationships, and even superficial things in your life that are feeling very supportive and nurturing right now. It’ll sound something like this:
I am aware that I’m really cozy under this blanket right now.
I am aware that I’m feeling really connected to Aunt Susan right now after receiving her text today.
I am aware that I am so grateful for good health and strong legs and a safe neighborhood sidewalk that allowed me to enjoy a walk to begin my day.
I’m aware that watching spring begin to bloom through my windows brings me great joy, especially watching the fat squirrels run through the trees.
PRO TIP: If this feels overwhelming or a bit like busy work on your to do list, try giving that a spin. Set a timer, grab a cuppa tea, put on some music that lights you up, and set a timer for 15-20 minutes as an intentional act of self care today. THIS practice is another form of yoga in your life, friends! And we promise: it can really change the way you experience your day!
Ok, that’s the practice of expanding your awareness to elevate your consciousness beyond the doom and gloom of our current reality. It’s all about acknowledging (and expressing) the negative experiences with intentional language that creates a healthier experience of the pain and fear and then expanding your awareness of some good things happening in your life and on your behalf, too, even in the midst of this really surreal time of social distancing and interruption of life as we’ve come to know it.