With all the panic over the spread of COVID-19 and the tsunami of information circulating about, it can be difficult to know what to do to protect and or care for ourselves and our families. However, we all possess the innate ability to access a deeper wisdom, one that tells us what to do and when to do it. But, in order to access this information, we must first follow three simple actions: We must Ask, Listen, and Ruminate. Fortunately, Our Creator made for us a finely tuned instrument that can guide us to this wisdom–our body.
The mind is only one way to receive information and it can easily get bogged down in old programming and/or unresolved issues from the past. Our bodies, on the other hand, constantly monitor our inner and outer landscapes, instantly relaying vital information to our organ systems and brain. Our feeling bodies are capable of gathering vital information and, the ability to act on that information with clarity and integrity. What better time than now to become fully aware of your body and what it is telling you?
From my book, Soul of the Seasons… “With its never-ending “need to know,” the mind is driven by fears of the unknown. We all want to know what’s out there. We may even be tempted to fork over large sums of money for advice on spiritual, financial, and relationship matters. But in spite of the efforts to peer into the crystal ball of our future, the answers to our questions can remain a mystery until we commit to following our heart [guided by The Divine]. This is where trust and faith come into play.”
Before we can act, however, we must first be open to the wisdom that is always available to us. This is where Ask, Listen, and Ruminate come in. Accessing Divine wisdom requires the stillness and receptivity afforded us through the practices of prayer (asking), meditation (listening), and contemplation (rumination). These acts call forth in us the qualities of courage, faith, and trust in a power greater than ourselves to guide us. (Notice I didn’t say, using the mind to gather more information.)
“Deep wisdom cannot be accessed with the flip of a switch, like our personal cosmic speed dial. It cannot be FedEx-ed to your front door along with the latest self-help program. God won’t shout over the top of the music in your Zumba class or the argument you are having with your teenager. Like the element of Water, inner stillness cannot be grasped in your clutches. Instead, the sanctuary of sacred rest must be entered with grace, patience, faith, and humility, with empty hands and an open heart. And, when sacred wisdom arrives, quietly and without fanfare, you will know it from the depths of your being.“
from Soul of the Seasons: The Voice Without A Sound
From Soul of the Seasons, A Winter’s Rest Chapter: “Birth, whether of new beings or new ideas, is almost always borne out of a place of darkness, essential for gestation. When we intentionally carve out a sanctuary for quiet rest in our lives, we open the door to our most imaginative, most innovative creations. When our life becomes too busy, too frantic, and too noisy we often cry out, “Be quiet! I can’t think!” The truth is, it’s not only that we cannot think. . . . We cannot hear.
Though prayer is a powerful component of spiritual practice, contemplation also is essential. Meditation, which can be defined as focused contemplation, is a time set aside to hear what divine wisdom is telling us. Some spiritual teachings refer to this ability to hear at the deepest level as the act of listening to “the still, small voice.””
Rumination, another key element in utilizing wisdom, allows for the energetic digestion of important matters of the heart. This period of emotional and spiritual digestion helps to sustain our constitutional nourishment. Just as in the body the stomach breaks down ingested food and shares the wealth of nutrients with the other organs, when we are emotionally and spiritually balanced, we can share our abundance with our loved ones, our community, and Mother Earth. Without a season of rumination—a time to adequately break down and assimilate our experiences—our emotions [and even the best information] can begin to stagnate and solidify.
In a world that is spinning with daily crises, taking time to practice Asking, Listening, and Rumination is no longer a luxury. Information on how to pray, meditate, and contemplation practices are readily available and help us to make the best use of stillness of mind and heart. These essential practices create and maintain constitutional balance and harmony, qualities that have never been more critical to our health and well being.
Blessings and Grace to you.
NOTE: Everyone’s spiritual practice is different. Sitting in lotus position for hours may not bring you the stillness you need to clear the mind. Sitting by a body of water, taking a warm bath, focusing on your breath, hugging a tree, or a walk in nature are all effective ways to calm the mind and spirit. Use what works best for you.
It cannot be denied that the current pandemic situation is the very definition of “trying times.” With all the uncertainty flying around, it’s easy for adults to be anxious, imagine what it must be like for our children. But, resilience and endurance are excellent traits that can be modeled to those not yet experienced in challenging life situations.
Several of my more recent posts have been dealing with fear, and how we can ease our worried minds. Children tend to be more sensitive to what’s going on in their environment and, especially to what the adults around them are saying and feeling. Below are a few tips on engaging with children–and adults–during stressful situations.
Talk openly about your feelings and invite them to talk about theirs: Children need to know that what they’re feeling and thinking is normal and that they can lean on their elders for wisdom and support. Above all they know that they are loved and that you will get through this together.
However, if your anxiety has sent you off the rails, it would be best to talk to them when you are calmer and can be open to whatever they have to say. Get guidance, if you feel you need it or have a good friend offer you calm reassurance before engaging in a conversation with your children.
Turn the experience into an adventure: Children love adventure. One of their best qualities is to look at the world through curious, innocent eyes. This is a trait we, as adults, would do well to learn from our children.
Join them in writing, drawing, painting rocks, or making a scrapbook concerning the things they see going on around them. Ask them what they think should happen or how they could help. Make it fun. If they can’t play with their friends, maybe they can video chat with them or better yet, have them send a letter or a card like you might have done when you were younger.
The curious mind is a creative mind and a creative mind finds unique solutions to challenges!
Tell stories: Tell your children stories of challenging times that you faced when you were a kid and how you dealt with it. Invite them to tell you their stories. It’s okay if the stories are made up, all stories tell us something about ourselves.
Have them draw pictures or make a video to go along with their stories. Start a group where they can share their stories with other kids. My grandson once drew a whole story onto a rock and then regaled me for twenty minutes about what all the figures meant. It was quite an adventurous story!
Go outdoors! Fresh air, exercise, and sunshine are the best medicines. This goes for the adults, too. Take the adventure outdoors. Teach your kids to be observant. What critters or plants or rocks do they see? Have fun looking them up and identifying them.
One of the best adventures I had with my grandchildren was to have them make their own Plant ID books. We went out and gathered a few common herbs–just a few leaves and/or flowers, then pressed them between layers of newspapers. I asked them to have a conversation with the plant and see if it had anything to tell them. (Their answers were amazing!) After the plants were sufficiently dried we glued them into a scrapbook with notes on what they might be a remedy for.
Later that summer one of my grandson’s friends got stung by a bee and he said, “Here, let me get you some plantain!” He had his friend chew the leaf and press the paste onto the sting. Within minutes the pain was gone.
NOTE: There are many SAFE uses for common plants. Get a book on medicinal plant identification or go to Eat the Weeds.
Above all, teach your children the value of treating Nature with gentleness and respect.
Learn something new: Learning is an excellent diversion from stressful situations, especially hands-on learning. Teach your kids how to plant a garden (you can easily grow food in a pot), cook a meal, how to make a campfire, do the laundry, perform simple car maintenance, balance a checkbook, or any other practical life skill they may not already know. YouTube has an unlimited supply of How-To videos. Productive activities build confidence and assurance that anyone can manage during difficult times.
Create Routine: Like everyone, your family’s lives have likely already been disrupted by this pandemic. With so much of the future unknown and uncertain, routine helps to create comfort and reassurance, that there is something tangible we can count on. Even keeping simple things like meals and bedtimes on a regular schedule will go a long way to soothe your children’s minds. If you cant stay at home with them, let them know you’ll be checking in regularly to see how they’re doing. Perhaps a trusted neighbor or family member can also check in to see how things are going or just to chat.
Pray or Meditate: Studies have shown that prayer and meditation are wonderful practices to calm and soothe. Anyone who regularly engages in these practices can verify these findings. Simple mindfulness can steer the mind away from anxious thoughts and toward inner peace. Trusting in a power greater than ourselves teaches us to let go of things we annot control and lean into quiet acceptance. When the mind is calm, we can more clearly hear our inner wisdom and know the right thing to do and the right time to do it.
These are just a few suggestions to keep your children engaged, relaxed, and open to possibilities. I’d love to hear your ideas.
There is no such thing as coincidence. I believe that every experience reflects clues to its origin and the answers to any challenges that arise from this experience. With this in mind, it’s interesting to note a few curious elements of the Coronavirus pandemic. Firstly, one of most serious concerns in acquiring COVID-19, is its effect on the lungs and the immune system. Another curious phenomenon is the practice of hoarding, and primarily the things being hoarded, i.e.: toilet paper, disinfectants, and cleaning products.
In Five Element medicine, each season is represented by a fundamental element, a core emotion, and two governing organ systems, along with other qualities and biological systems and organs. Interestingly, the lungs and the colon–the body’s major organs associated with purification and elimination–are the organ systems associated with the season of Fall. It’s also noteworthy that the immune system is one of the bodily systems associated with this season.
Fall is also the season when we learn to fully grieve. The core emotion of grief creates an emotional resonance resulting from the willing or unwilling letting go of something or someone we have deeply valued.
Imbalances in Fall often show up as the inability to let go and a diminished capacity to discern what is of value from that which is no longer needed. As a result, we may end up hanging onto relationships, habits, food, clothes, cars, or paperwork, long after they’re useful or functional. When our ability to let go becomes thwarted, spiritual, emotional, and physical debris back up, creating both internal and external pollution. We soon become covered in the psychic dung of our unprocessed misery, creating toxicity on all levels.
Failing to tend to our losses creates an inability to trust in a future season of abundance. An imbalance during this, the season of deep meaning and value, can cause us to confuse quantity with quality. Though we may have homes or garages or hearts crammed with mementos, we remain unable or unwilling to let go of anything in order to make room for the new. Consequently, we may find ourselves hoarding every scrap and piece of chaff within reach. We might even take on the detritus of others, fearful we might miss out on some small bit of value.
The hoarding of anything is a sure sign of a Fall imbalance, but the run on toilet paper is just too coincidental. It is the single item most used for cleansing after our colon has done its job.
As we journey into the season of Fall we must honestly assess our imbalances and learn ways to artfully bring about balance. All the sanitization practices in the world can’t correct an imbalance in the lungs or colon. In fact, the over use of these products may cause a greater imblance. (Think: the over-prescribing of antibiotics and their part in the creation of super bugs.)
Left unattended, our imbalances in one season will eventually create an imbalance in the adjoining seasons. So, for instance, the inability to let go and grieve properly will lead to an excess of Winter’s core emotion: fear causing anxiety and uncontrolled panic where we rush about doing anything and everything to insure our survival, whether it’s rational or not. While it is important to preserve those things essential to our survival, we need to retain onlywhat will sustain us through the lean months ahead. The excess is destined to become the spiritual, emotional, and physical compost that will feed next year’s crops.
The road through the life season of Fall leads us directly into our connection to God through divine inspiration (the spiritual attribute of the lungs). Stay healthy. Take reasonable precautions. Keep your fears in check. With healthy and balanced emotional, spiritual, and physical practices, we will gain the strength and resilience to face the challenges life inevitably sends our way.
In light of recent events, rampant fearmongering is at an all time high. The following contains excerpts from the chapter, A Winter’s Rest, in my book, Soul of the Seasons: Creating Balance, Resilience, & Harmony by Tapping the Wisdom of the Natural World. Winter is the season of death, rest, darkness, gestation, and The Mystery. The fundamental element of Winter is Water and the core emotion of this season–not coincidentally– is >>>>>FEAR<<<<<.
Fear has much to teach us and, like the emotion of anger, is one of the most challenging to master. The propensity of these emotions to run rampant is great. The following passages contains some great wisdom in identifying when fear have overwhelmed your life and how to get it back in check.
“When we are out of balance in the Winter seasons of our lives, the core emotion of fear can get out-of-hand. Our minds race, overburdened with work, family, the news, or our state of health, from one frantic thought to another, tracking endlessly through all the horrible ways things could go wrong. Overwhelmed, we can become unable or unwilling to take even the tiniest of risks, confused about whom or what to rely on.
“Desperate to find security in what seems an uncertain future, we may enlist faith in those who are incapable of holding our trust. We may seek out conversations or environments (like social media and hysteria-based news outlets) to stimulate and feed our worst fears, mistakenly believing that being “more informed” readies us for the possibility of future [or present] disaster. Flooded with fear and mistrust, we may even believe that others are conspiring against us, causing us to withdraw, unable to trust that anyone will have our backs.
“Flooded with fears of an uncertain future, we use our willpower in contaminated ways. Fearing failure, we may end up with little desire to take action. In a world that seems cold and lifeless, we may curl up in our beds, clutching our heating pad for warmth. If our willpower imbalance shows up as an excess, we may rush around willy-nilly just to be doing something—anything to appease the nagging fear that we will never get anything done. Or we may just as easily use our willpower to bend the will of others to our bidding, convinced that we can create safety through the manipulation of our outer world. And though we desperately crave peace and tranquility, we resist any lessening of our frenetic pace.
“We refuse to rest because resting would be like quitting, like giving up. Driven by our fear of never being (or doing) enough, we fill up our calendars and planners with activities, unwilling to stop and confront the painful realization of our own inadequacies. We may even fear that if we stop, we will die.
“When a Winter/Water imbalance goes far enough, we may become frozen. Lacking the fluidity that Water provides, we stagnate, becoming stiff in both thought and action. We may become emotionally rigid as well. Opinionated and narrow-minded, we resist any viewpoint that differs from our own. We might even become aggressive or belligerent in order to cover fears of our shortcomings.”
Get Quiet: Don’t wait until you’re too sick to get out of bed to give yourself permission to rest. Sit down. Turn off your phone and shut down the computer. Lounge in a hammock or lawn chair. Take a nap. Sit beside a river, stream, or other body of water. Watch birds build a nest or the leaves fall from the trees. Slow down. Give yourself the time and space to settle into doing absolutely nothing. Daydream. Breathe.
“The basic reflexive reactions associated with fear are: fight, flight, freeze, and faint. Each response is appropriate in its own way, depending upon the circumstance at hand.
“Today, survival skills are often viewed as an extreme sport practiced by thrill-seekers and reality TV participants. However, when we are properly prepared, we can trust our wisdom to kick in, and we can make the best use of our knowledge right when we need it most. In the face of danger, our fear can instinctually spur us into taking right action. On a practical level, it is always good to know how to take care of ourselves in difficult situations. When we prepare, as best we can, for impending disasters like hurricanes, forest fires, power outages, floods, or flesh-eating antibiotic-resistant bacteria, we can face these challenges with calm reassurance and the confidence that we can handle most anything that comes our way.
EXERCISE: Paying Attention to Your Fear Triggers: Author and spiritual teacher Caroline Myss states, “People can be put into bondage through all forms of abuse, among them fear tactics. All someone has to do is repeat a fear to you again and again and that fear will take hold of you and make you its prisoner. It will enslave you.”
Don’t become enslaved by the fears of others. Instead, learn to identify your fear triggers. Use this awareness to provide you with important clues for making positive changes.
Take a few moments to ask the following questions. Be sure to record your answers in your journal.
What causes you to be the most upset?
What are you most afraid of?
How do you know when you’re afraid?
What is your usual fear response: Fight? Flight? Freeze? or Faint? (List all that apply.)
If Fear showed up at your door, what would it have to say to you? What would it ask of you?
How does your fear response(s) play out in your behaviors?
Example: “I freeze during moments of fear. I stop what I’m doing and retreat from the situation. If it’s really bad, I’ll hole up in my bedroom for a day or two.”
In the future, whenever your fear is triggered, embrace it with the spirit of curiosity and discovery. As you allow your mind to relax into the guidance of your heart, you can rest reassured either you’ll find a way to work things out or you’ll find someone who can.
“While our fear demands a place at the table, it’s never a good idea to seat it at the head. Taking the time to acquaint ourselves with how we move (or don’t move) with the emotion of fear, we can more easily rely on this essential survival emotion. We can take appropriate steps to calm and reassure ourselves, to access the wisdom we need in the moment, and then to decide whether or not it’s time to take a risk on the matter at hand. By recognizing how fear manifests in our body, we can utilize its ability to access our wisdom and guide us toward right action.”
With the hysteria levels off the charts concerning the spread of Coronavirus it’s easy to forget some of the basic tenets of maintaining health and preventing illness. The constant barrage of conflicting information can leave us confused and reactive. Five Element medicine, the impetus for the creation of my book, Soul of the Seasons, provides an excellent foundation in maintaining balanced health and well being.
I’m not going to overload you with more information on virus protection or how to sanitize your home, you’ve likely already have more than enough data on that, instead, we’ll focus on the benefits of holistic self-care. Holistic self-care is more than stocking up on the latest superfood or learning specialized body work techniques, it’s also about creating balance and harmony in our intellectual, emotional, and spiritual bodies.
Whether it comes to choosing a food plan, selecting the best herbs to boost our immune system, or deciding whom to allow into our inner circle, when we know ourselves well, we’ll make the best decisions because we understand who we are at our core. This applies to everything that influences our inner and outer landscapes.
To support our emotional well-being, we must develop healthy and balanced relationships with the core emotions of Anger, Joy, Sympathy, Grief, and Fear. These emotions are essential in helping us to navigate the ever-changing seasons of life. For example:
Anger serves to remind us when an injustice or boundary violation has occurred. Creating healthy boundaries creates an environment of safety and security necessary to maintain balance and harmony
Joy is the expression of a healthy heart and builds resilience through connection, communication, and community. Studies show that joy, happiness, laughter, and play strengthens our immune system.
Sympathy allows is to relate to others with understanding and compassion and gratitude for all we have been given. These qualities can and should extend to ourselves and are essential components in nurturing ourselves and others.
Grief is the expression of a loss of the things we have valued and loved. It teaches us the invaluable skill of letting go and respect for the fragility and beauty of life.
Fear activates our internal risk assessment department. When we notice feelings of fear and anxiety, it’s our signal to take a moment to stop and evaluate the situation, gather the skills or tools we may need, and make any necessary adjustments to manage any potential threats.
I want to focus a bit on the core emotion of fear in this post because our relationship with fear is critical when dealing with threats, whether they be existential or perceived. The level of fear surrounding Covid-19 is off the charts. Facts, fiction, and superstitions about prevention and contraction of the virus have been examined, refuted, and contradicted by conventional news sources, social media, and everyday conversation.
Too Much Information is a real thing. Deluged by too many “facts”–especially those steeped in fear–causes the mind to shut down and/or go into survival mode. Operating from this mode, we revert to our lizard brain where we are more likely to react defensively and out of fear, instead of making clear choices that are best for our bodies and our situation. Overwhelmed and confused, we may run around grabbing everything and anything we believe might help us or, we can become immobilized, unable to make any decisions at all.
Our best antidote to fear overload, however, is peace and quiet. Though it may be tempting to research all the available data, in order to make quality decisions, the mind needs to go on a fast. Taking a break from all media and sitting quietly in nature (especially near water) is one of the most useful tools in making quality decisions.
Quality rest is another valuable tool. Sleep and rest keeps our mind, body, emotions, and spirit in top form. Over-work and sleep deprivation are hugely detrimental to our immune system and make us vulnerable to illnesses such at COVID-19. Lack of quality rest can adversely inhibit everyday function more than alcohol ingestion.
To Review: To improve your mental, emotional, and physical health…Do Nothing.
Rest, gardening, laughing with friends, feeling gratitude for the sweetness of life, and valuing what is most precious to us are all excellent ways to stay healthy and ward off illness.
My book, Soul of the Seasons, contains many thoughtful questions, guided meditations, and exercises designed to create and restore balance and harmony in our inner and outer landscapes. Read more about how the natural world can help us navigate the seasons of life with more grace and resilience.
I haven’t been on social media much lately. The Holidays combined with feeling a bit under the weather has had me hibernating. It’s been a good time to reflect on the past year and to call in my word for 2020. For the past several years I’ve been choosing a word on or around New Year’s Day to represent what I want to experience in the coming year. My word for 2019 was Adventure, and what a year of adventure it has been! (Note to Self: Remember to be specific!)
My word for 2020 >>>>JOY<<<<< has already been popping up for me in various ways, calling me to incorporate this powerful core emotion into all areas of my life.
Often we treat joy as an afterthought, a luxury to enjoy when we achieve our goals or as a reward for hard work. But JOY is essential to our health and well being. It keeps our heart healthy and infuses warmth, laughter, pleasure, happiness, play, and passion into everything we do. Joy keeps us going through the long haul and warms us during Winter’s darkest nights. It is the perfect antidote to our chaotic world.
Joy is soul food. It is the main ingredient in any act that produces happiness, laughter, beauty, sensuality, and play. Joy is what we endlessly search for in our journey to feel complete, to feel whole, to belong. Joy gently calls us to reconnect with our hearts. It is the sacred emotion that allows us to feel lovingly allied, both with The Divine and with humanity.
…from Soul of the Seasons: Creating Balance, Resilience, & Connection by Tapping the Wisdom of the Natural World.
Beginning January 1st, I’d like you to join me on a special Facebook page I have created dedicated to expressing and inciting more JOY. (To join click on: 90 Days of Joymongering.) On this public page you are welcome to post whatever makes you smile, whatever brings a giggle or makes your eyes light up. There are no rules with the exception that your posts must remain respectful. I want you to share with me those things that light up your life and bring you happiness, and I will do the same. Join me in bringing more light and warmth into the world.
In the book, Soul of the Seasons we are encouraged to get back in touch with the natural world and the innate rhythms and cycles that guide our own lives. When we find balance in each of the five seasons, or passages of life – Spring, Summer, Harvest, Fall and Winter – we get to know ourselves better and seek meaning, purpose and connection in small and large ways.
Just as the natural world transforms itself every year in distinct seasons, we also go through our own internal seasons. Regardless of what month it is during the calendar year, we’ll be in the midst of a period of growth, connection, abundance, loss and/or reflection.
How to navigate our inner seasons? Journaling is our best co-pilot.
Journaling is a simple but powerful daily practice that helps us process what we are experiencing right now. In our journal, we have the wide open spaces to explore and express our raw thoughts and emotions, understand them more deeply and move forward.
My Journaling Journey began in the winter of 1998. I started journaling, specifically with Julia Cameron’s Morning Pages, for physical therapy, to teach my self how to write with my left hand when an MS episode took away most feeling and function on the right side of my body.
Journaling introduced me to my now favorite 4 letter “F” word: “Feel” and helped me rediscover my creativity. What a surprise that was! I started hearing rhymes and began writing poetry for the first time ever. My Journal helped me reconnect not only with My Writer and My Singer and we’re creating my first album, Practically Romantic.
What are you afraid of or nervous about right now?
When were you scared of something, but you did it anyway?
How do you make room for quiet reflection in your day-to-day life?
Mari L. McCarthy, is Founder and Chief Empowerment Officer of CreateWriteNow.com. She mentors health-conscious people in using Journaling For The Health Of It to heal the issues in their tissues and transform their life. She is the multi award-winning author of Journaling Power: How To Create The Happy, Healthy Life You Want To Live and Heal Your Self With Journaling Power, She is the creator of 20+ life-changing Journaling Power eWorkbooks.
From Soul of the Seasons: Creating Balance, Resilience and Connection by Tapping the Wisdom of the Natural World—
“The body, as a finely tuned instrument of discernment, recognizes each emotion through its unique vibrational imprint. Anger physically feels different than sympathy, and joy feels different than grief. Through conscious awareness—the ability to identify the specific vibrations and resonances of our emotions—we can navigate life with harmony and balance.
“Our bodies possess an innate intelligence, one that is infused into our very cells. Each cell is encoded with the ability to transmit information. Our cells are created with their own intelligence. They possess an awareness of themselves, of all other bodily cells, and of their surrounding environment. This sophisticated system of internal (and external) intelligence through cellular communication provides for seamless bodily function without the need for active conscious thought…
“Recognizing the physical resonances unique to each emotion can help us become more responsive to the circumstances at hand, instead of reacting out of impulse. When we pay close attention to our emotional signals, we can identify what we are feeling in the moment—the only place we have the ability to make a choice.”
“With this conscious awareness, we can more artfully navigate the difficult seasons and appreciate the inviting ones. We can fulfill our unmet needs instead of repressing or self-medicating our feelings away.”
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