I can’t begin to imagine the horror of those involved and affected by the explosions today in Boston. People running, for charity, having trained for such a long time only to have the day end in chaos and fear.
A lovely quote has been going around on Twitter and Facebook (attributed to @petemanning and also Fred Rogers – whoever said it, I love it) saying that when he was scared of the news as a kid, his mother told him to always look for the people helping. ‘There are always people helping.’
It’s easy to forget people’s inherent goodness as we traumatise ourselves watching (with many news stations showing such images on a loop) horrific events unfolding. This simply raises our stress levels and leads to overwhelm and hopelessness.
Personally speaking, after reading this quote, I turned the TV back on and put my attention on the people pushing those in wheelchairs, police officers, paramedics and ordinary people doing all they can to help.
Here are some other things you can do to help yourself feel safer anytime the world feels chaotic and scary:
• Notice your breathing. Whether watching or reading news updates, be mindful of shallow, choppy breathing which might raise your anxiety and stress. Consciously make your breath smooth and exhale for longer than you inhale to calm your whole system
• Place the soles of your feet on the ground and feel the earth beneath you. If you’re outdoors with bare feet, wonderful. But even if you’re in a high building, you can visualise roots going from the soles of your feet deep into the earth, connecting you with its nourishing energy and supporting you in this life
• Light a candle and ask whichever Higher Power (God / Goddess / the Universe / angels…) you feel comfortable with to help the people who need it. Remember the Chinese proverb that inspired the creators of Amnesty’s logo (‘Better to light a candle than to curse the darkness’)? Lighting a candle always helps me feel better when I feel helpless in the face of suffering
• Send some Metta (Loving Kindness) to all involved. This is the version I learned doing my Yoga Therapy training with Heather Mason at The Minded Institute:
Sitting comfortably, say: ‘May I be happy and healthy, peaceful and at ease. May I be able to take care of myself joyfully. May I possess the courage and wisdom, patience and determination to manage life’s challenges.’
Then, you widen it out. So if you’re affected by something you see on the news (like tonight for Boston or recently with Syria or any other area / group of people you somehow want to help but don’t know how), you think about them. It might be for people closer to home in which case you go from you to everyone in your building / neighbourhood / town… ‘May they be happy and healthy, peaceful and at ease. May they be able to support themselves joyfully. May they possess the courage and wisdom, patience and determination to manage life’s challenges.’
Then you widen it further out so it might be everyone on the planet who is suffering from _____ or a larger geographical area.
Then widen it out (each time, you may actually feel your own heart expanding with love for all involved) to everyone on the planet.
Finally, bring this Metta back to yourself and sit quietly letting it settle for a few moments.
When you feel grounded and calm, your energy will naturally become more loving than fearful. You’ll be better able to be helpful and supportive rather than adding to angst and turmoil.