This post is written for MaddyMoon.com from a guest writer.
The brilliant storyteller and Jungian psychoanalyst Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés once wrote about moments of difficulty: “The fact is, we were made for these times.” Buddhist nun Pema Chödrön wrote in her book When Things Fall Apart, “To be fully alive, fully human, and completely awake is to be continually thrown out of the nest.”
When the crisis or catastrophe comes (whether it be a virus, a divorce, a book deal falling through), it can be easy to forget the tools in our toolkit that deliver moments of breath, grounding, and reassurance. It can be hard to even open the toolkit in the first place.
Here are some additional strategies you might turn to in moments of transition or upheaval, when you feel “thrown out of the nest”:
1) You can honor empty space and silence, though the “problem-solving” part of your brain wants to make plans, create deadlines, routine, and structure. Yes to all of those things— but underneath the structure and the deadlines, there is an emotion— of fear, of restlessness, of appreciation for sunlight or blueberries. When your mind fills with questions, when you feel that shivery feeling of fear and uncertainty, you can let those feelings come, and lie on your mat, for ten, twenty, forty-five minutes, and say, to what arises, “you are welcome here.”
2) You can turn to herbs and plant allies for nourishment, especially because making something, even just a cup of tea, can momentarily make the world feel in order. Chamomile, kava, passionflower, skullcap, nettle, milky oats are some especially good ones. The ritual of tea, heating up water, and watching the steam unfurl, can remind you to attend to both yourself and something beyond you.
3) You can walk (as long as you stay six feet apart from anyone else, at least in these times). “Walking . . . is how the body measures itself against the earth,” wrote writer Rebecca Solnit. New places unfurl slowly when walking, which means you can unfurl your own grief or fear, and find language for it, if need be.
4) You can check in with the words of your guides, through their writing and online platforms— check out Chani Nicholas, Glennon Doyle, Elizabeth Gilbert, Robin Coste Lewis, Jennifer Pastiloff, and Rachel Cargle, just to name a few. We were not made to move through times of pain and difficulty alone (and oh, how those times come). Books, too, are voices that offer soothing, especially poetry: Hafiz, Rumi, Mary Oliver, W.S. Merwin, and Aracelis Girmay.
The word upheaval has geological origins, heave: to lift up. An upheaval is a rising of land to higher elevation. It’s mountain building, a completely awe-inspiring event— but how can something so large, so infinitely heavy, be pushed from the ground? Transition is from Latin, transire: to cross over. We were made for climbing mountains. Right now, we are in the midst of a crossing. Hope, as in, hop, as in, “leaping with…expectation.”
Hope, as in: surely, we will land.
Do you want access to Madelyn’s Quarantine Cocoon Stay-at-Home-Resource Guide? Grab it here before we’re back out into the world and the guide disappears till the next global stay-at-home quarantine. 😉