If you're anything like me, within seconds of turning on the TV you are overwhelmed by the images of violence, destruction and conflict you see. Watching the news is out of the question if I hope to maintain a sense of calm and centeredness in my brain. But even in the most benign of television shows it can feel like we are bombarded with negativity. Apart from the occasional inspiring viral video about puppies who save their owners' lives or orphans who create a charity to feed other poor malnourished orphans, social media may be the scariest place of all. We live in trying times my friends. With all the war, hunger, famine, drought, disease, terrorism, corruption, death, strife, natural disasters, refugees, politics and conflict. Sometimes all the noise can get so loud that it is easy to forget that things have always been this way. Actually, if you study up on your history it probably won't take long for you to find a time in human history admittedly more trying than the present. For as long as human beings have existed on this planet, problems such as these have existed.
I am not trying to suggest that our time isn't plagued with ills of its own. Nor do I wish to downplay the grave struggles that a great deal of people are facing. The struggle is real people, this we know. Just maybe not as cataclysmic as we may believe in our fear addicted minds. Frightening world events and local tragedies are not happening on a more frequent basis. We are just exposed to them exponentially more in this day and age. The availability and cosumption of mass media is so pervasive that many of us in the developed world are dizzied by the horrors we are met with each time we tune in, log on and connect. This constant connectivity and unceasing coverage of events near and far leaves us in a mental tailspin, susceptible to anxiety, depression and great depths of despair. At times I am left wanting to bury my head in the sand. I even feel hypocritical telling my son he has no reason to be afraid of bad guys. Heck, sometimes I'm really afraid of the bad guys. Just like anything else though, I have to choose sanity over insanity, faith over fear. Seeing as the status quo won't be changing any time soon, I've borrowed a line from the serenity prayer and learned to accept that which I cannot change. How do I do that? Well I've contemplated the process and broken it down into 3 easy and repeatable steps.
1. Maybe I'm weird...okay I am definitely weird. But I find comfort in allowing my mind to go to the worst case scenario. So I am stuck in a movie theater with a gunman on a rampage. A mass pandemic sweeps the nation and I contract the deadly disease. There's an Earthquake and my house is sucked down deep into the core of the Earth. In 2020 Miley Cyrus runs for president AND wins. What is the worst case scenario? I die. Or even worse...a loved one dies. Or worse still, Miley Cyrus becomes president. (I kid, I kid...figured the post just needed some levity after all that tragedy) The point is, all of these travesties have no power over you when you confront the real fear behind the tragedy--death and suffering.
2. So how to overcome the fear of death and suffering? Faith! Have faith that no matter what bad things may happen, as long as I keep connected to God, He will give me the peace, comfort and strength to withstand anything. I know this because He has. He has always lived up to His promise, even beyond anything I could have asked for or believed possible. The key is in having an intimate relationship with the Creator. Not sure how to do this? Talk to Him, Her, It. Whatever feels natural for you. Once you have the relationship thing down, God can then act as the Great comforter, the redeemer, the healer, provider of peace that passes all human understanding.
3. Looking for a more practical application here? Good, I've got that for you too. Come back to the present moment. Where am I right now? Am I safe? Am I hungry? In pain, or comfortable? This is most certainly easier said than done. The human condition is such that we are constantly wallowing in our past and anxiously anticipating our future. A simple tool we yogis use to come back to the present moment is focusing on the breath. Bringing awareness to the breath not only cultivates mindfulness, but it can also be used to calm your senses, or heighten them, depending on how you breathe. Even when the present moment is uncomfortable, it is the only one that truly exists. When we dive in and surrender to each present moment, that is where our true life lives.
We no doubt live in scary times, but we do not need to live in fear. Any time I feel fear and insecurity creeping in I remember these words: "So do not fear, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." Isaiah 41:10
If you are struggling with what to make of this mad world we live in, I encourage you to reach out to a counseling professional, or at least the comfort of a good friend. I am also available for yoga infused lifestyle consultations to ease your struggle. Leave a comment or fill out the contact form to schedule yours today. Blessings to you and yours. Namaste (Originally posted January of 2017)