There is no doubt that darkness pervades our entire world right now. The death toll is rising, the virus is spreading, the economy is plummeting, we are losing our jobs, our creature comforts, our livelihood, there is a whole lot of unknown and waiting, and the world is in a panic...understandably so. However, panic is only going to make this whole situation worse. I live in a sweet little town that people escape to when the going gets tough. Well the going has gotten tough and we are not exempt from it. While we are not yet facing what Italy is facing and NYC or SF, we are also feeling the effects. Schools are shut down and soon enough the town will probably shut down. People are fighting over groceries here and unwilling to wait in the long lines and stealing groceries from the store. C’mon people, we’re all in this together. Don’t be a dick. Panic in any situation does not solve any problems. Well that is not always true because one time while I was traveling in Barcelona with my friend Danielle she panicked and it happened to save our asses at the time...buuut that’s a story for another day, and it is besides the point. Here’s the thing. This is nothing new. Humans and mother nature have survived through times just like these. Did everyone survive? No. Was it easy? No. Did it fucking suck? Yes. Did it build our resilience? Yes. Did beauty come from it? Yes. Let’s take a look at a little history shall we? Look at the Middle Ages also known as the Dark Ages because of the disease known as the Black Plague killed an estimated 75 to 200 million people and it took 150 years to rebuild after that...what came after that? The Renaissance, where some of the most influential and inspiring art and philosophy was born, and when some of the greatest scientists, authors, and world leaders thrived. It was called the “Rebirth” and historians say that it bridged the gap between the Middle Ages and modern society. We happen to be in the midst of another Dark Age. Systems are crumbling. I feel that in part it is because it’s time to rebuild, reset and rebirth in our society. Western Society has been driven by the wrong values for a very long time; greed, power, ego. We have become too ‘comfortable’. We have disconnected from mother nature, from our true nature, and from each other and now mother nature has come to shake things up. We are being called to create a massive shift; a shift in our perspective and a a shift in our actions in order to birth an individual as well as collective shift. The time is NOW. No more sleeping, pretending, numbing, avoiding, distracting, shaming, blaming, or hating. It’s time to wake up people. And rise up. To help each other. To love each other. To see where in our lives we could do better. Where we have been numbing, and what we have been numbing, so we can heal it. Where we can show up better in our relationships. To re-establish healthy values and boundaries. To check in with our nervous system, and repair it. A majority of humans are operating from a taxed nervous system, but the amazing thing is that the nervous system can rebuild and that it heals itself. A strong nervous system is what we need in order to navigate these dark times. That’s where yoga, meditation, breath work, rest and self-care come into play. As well as art, music & dance as healing tools. Look at Italy…where they are confined to their homes but opening their windows and playing music and singing to each other! Most music was born from difficult times; flamenco, soul, blues, hip-hop, country, etc. These are going to be the tools and practices that get us through this shit with more ease and grace. Accept the invitation to show up and step it up. Channel your pain into a healing art of your choosing. Choose to engage in an uplifting activity that helps you keep the joy alive amidst the pain. Allow yourself to feel the pain and be in the struggle, but don’t let it consume you and take over your life. Be kind, we’re all in this together. Let’s be the steady during the storm. Let’s be the laugh amidst the cries. Let us thank the shadows, and bow to the darkness that they bring. Let us see the system brought down to it's knees so that we can build it back up. Keep your light bright so we can help each other find our way home.
Some tips for navigating the madness;
-REST. Get plenty of sleep and rest. Stress taxes the nervous system, sleep rebuilds it.
-MOVE your body. Dance, yoga, workout, etc.
-BREATHE. Pause throughout the day for deep breaths.
-TRUST. This is a tough one. But trust that we are never given anything that we can't deal with. Yogi Bhajan has a quote that basically says that we experience stress and struggle because we haven't built the inner strength to meet the demands of our lives, and through Kundalini yoga we can build the caliber necessary for these times. (if interested in learning more about this please reach out as I teach a personalized Kundalini practice)
-LOVE. Self-love. Love each other. Small random acts of kindness. Be open and vulnerable. Don't shut down. Open up.
And here is a most powerful piece of writing that we all need to read;
My friends, do not lose heart. We were made for these times. I have heard from so many recently who are deeply and properly bewildered. They are concerned about the state of affairs in our world now. Ours is a time of almost daily astonishment and often righteous rage over the latest degradations of what matters most to civilized, visionary people.
You are right in your assessments. The lustre and hubris some have aspired to while endorsing acts so heinous against children, elders, everyday people, the poor, the unguarded, the helpless, is breathtaking. Yet, I urge you, ask you, gentle you, to please not spend your spirit dry by bewailing these difficult times. Especially do not lose hope. Most particularly because, the fact is that we were made for these times. Yes. For years, we have been learning, practicing, been in training for and just waiting to meet on this exact plain of engagement.
I grew up on the Great Lakes and recognize a seaworthy vessel when I see one. Regarding awakened souls, there have never been more able vessels in the waters than there are right now across the world. And they are fully provisioned and able to signal one another as never before in the history of humankind.
Look out over the prow; there are millions of boats of righteous souls on the waters with you. Even though your veneers may shiver from every wave in this stormy roil, I assure you that the long timbers composing your prow and rudder come from a greater forest. That long-grained lumber is known to withstand storms, to hold together, to hold its own, and to advance, regardless.
In any dark time, there is a tendency to veer toward fainting over how much is wrong or unmended in the world. Do not focus on that. There is a tendency, too, to fall into being weakened by dwelling on what is outside your reach, by what cannot yet be. Do not focus there. That is spending the wind without raising the sails.
We are needed, that is all we can know. And though we meet resistance, we more so will meet great souls who will hail us, love us and guide us, and we will know them when they appear. Didn't you say you were a believer? Didn't you say you pledged to listen to a voice greater? Didn't you ask for grace? Don't you remember that to be in grace means to submit to the voice greater?
Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach. Any small, calm thing that one soul can do to help another soul, to assist some portion of this poor suffering world, will help immensely. It is not given to us to know which acts or by whom, will cause the critical mass to tip toward an enduring good.
What is needed for dramatic change is an accumulation of acts, adding, adding to, adding more, continuing. We know that it does not take everyone on Earth to bring justice and peace, but only a small, determined group who will not give up during the first, second, or hundredth gale.
One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your soul. Soul on deck shines like gold in dark times. The light of the soul throws sparks, can send up flares, builds signal fires, causes proper matters to catch fire. To display the lantern of soul in shadowy times like these - to be fierce and to show mercy toward others; both are acts of immense bravery and greatest necessity.
Struggling souls catch light from other souls who are fully lit and willing to show it. If you would help to calm the tumult, this is one of the strongest things you can do.
There will always be times when you feel discouraged. I too have felt despair many times in my life, but I do not keep a chair for it. I will not entertain it. It is not allowed to eat from my plate.
The reason is this: In my uttermost bones I know something, as do you. It is that there can be no despair when you remember why you came to Earth, who you serve, and who sent you here. The good words we say and the good deeds we do are not ours. They are the words and deeds of the One who brought us here. In that spirit, I hope you will write this on your wall: When a great ship is in harbor and moored, it is safe, there can be no doubt. But that is not what great ships are built for.
By Clarissa Pinkola Estes
American poet, post-trauma specialist and Jungian psychoanalyst, author of Women Who Run With the Wolves.
You are held. You are supported. You have everything you need. You got this. We got this.