“Monsters come in all shapes and sizes. Some of them are things people are scared of. Some of them are things that look like things people used to be scared of a long time ago. Sometimes monsters are things people should be scared of, but aren’t.” ~Neil Geiman, “The Ocean at the End of the Lane”
With world events and social media people are triggered which gives rise to defensiveness and attack, causing devastating rifts in families and communities. Yet with all of this divisiveness, the truth remains that we need each other for everything that sustains us each day: food, clothing, cars, gas, electricity, services, education, medical care and more. We can’t avoid others, not even if we live on the land and off the grid. Even in the wild we need the “other’, we need the elements of water, fire, earth, air. We need plants and animals to nourish us. We need shelter for protection. We need.
At the fundamental level of our existence is the fierce instinct of survival and terrible fear that we won’t make it. In nature, the dance of predator and prey is an ancient exchange, life for death. Each of us consumes in some way in order to survive. It’s important to understand this primitive part of ourselves, and ask: What seeks to be fed? Should we feed it? If so, how to feed it with respect and compassion. If not, how to respectfully say no and hold the boundary.
In order to ask important questions and discern the answers with clarity, we must face our fear and quiet it enough to be able to hear. The suggested practices below are not about spiritual escapism and avoiding what needs to be done. They can help us to ground ourselves, calm the amygdala or fear centers of our brain, and engage our pre-frontal cortex; so that we can be patient in sitting with uncertainty, and determine a wise course of action rather than react from fear.
Ritual Practices to Calm Fear and Promote Clarity:
- Identify the fear and acknowledge it. Not all fears are necessarily true in the present reality, but they need to be heard and sorted through for better understanding.
- Work with energy medicine to heal and support our nervous system’s resilience. Good resources for this are “Energy Medicine” by Donna Eden and “We Are All in Shock” by Stephanie Mines.
- Do a simple release ritual to symbolically transform fears: they can be written on paper and burned in a safe receptacle, or ripped up and the pieces buried outside or flushed in the bathroom.
- Create an altar with meaningful pictures and objects that affirm your courage, strength and wisdom. Spend time regularly at your altar and reflect on these qualities for spiritual replenishment.
- Explore walking the labyrinth as a contemplative tool to ease stress, and engage intuition and creative thinking. Finger labyrinths are available if walking is not possible.
- Connect with nature. As Winter Solstice approaches in the northern hemisphere, darkness will increase until we reach the longest night. When darkness reaches its apex, it will flip over to increasing light. Solstice is a powerful time for tapping into what Taoists call “unmanifest potential”, to energize our intentions for a more compassionate and equitable society, and summon the courage to stand for these principles. Light a candle if you wish, write your intentions and state them aloud to align with this energy.
By first exploring our own fear with compassion and understanding, we can then offer the same to others. Rather than divide us, may our needs inspire a healthy interdependence, to co-create sustainable solutions for the good of all and our planet.