March Meditation, 2011


Women finding their stance in the wash of disarray and change.

From Colorado:

The mudra for trust: Mudras are hand positions that are an ancient yogic art and science. By placing your hands and fingers into a certain position, and holding them here for 15 minutes as you meditate, a particular circuit of energy within your body will open to profound trust.

From a friend in South Africa:

With the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, the explosion at the nuclear plant there, and the larger effect on the world of these events (not just the effect on the people of Japan, but, for example, the fact that Japan has apparently shifted 8 feet from its prior position, the unavoidable likelihood that there will be increased radiation fallout, and the news that the earth's axis has shifted as a result of the quake), I have personally been really shaken. I am doing what is mine to do relative to being centered while still letting myself feel the effect of what is happening, and I would also request that we together consciously hold a space of quiet and stillness. Now, and in the days ahead, the world will need this.

Here are words from 2 women in Japan, working to find their own positioning:

Below are two passages that came through the web:

This is from a western woman living in Japan, last week…

As I write this, I am in Tokyo. It’s been 48 hours since the biggest earthquake that's ever been recorded in Japan. Ever since the sheer terror of those five minutes in which our building shook and swayed and groaned, and I didn’t know if my daughter and I would make it out alive, I have been glued to the public lens—tv, facebook, text messages, photos—with a surreal combination of horror and paralysis. The devastation north of us is shocking. The normalcy of Tokyo is shocking, too, except that water, rice, and batteries are disappearing from the supermarkets. And looming over everything is the very real chance that a nuclear reactor will melt down and release unfathomably toxic substances into the air, water, and land.

I have been afraid—terrified, really—for 48 hours.

People, I am here to say, that is long enough.

Here is where my fear got me: my head aches. My shoulders ache. My jaw aches, from clenching it. My breath is short and shallow. My heart aches at every sad photograph, and my nervous system is at the mercy of every authoritarian voice broadcasting worry.

In that condition, I am no more useful to the world, my family, or myself than a very anxious marmoset.

So here is how I am changing my frequency. If this stuff is working for me today, it will work for you too—whether you are afraid about your finances, your future, your failing left tail light, or your embarrassing flail in yesterday’s meeting.

1. I turned off the news. I can receive up-to-the-minute information via text, and my heart is already with those who are suffering. When I read information, it goes to my brain and not straight to my primal fight-or-flight response. The music and images of TV news are geared to trigger panic and an empathic flood; I’ve decided not to let myself get triggered

2. I cleaned my house. This grounded me, calmed me, and got me back into my body, which is a much more reliable navigation system than my shrieking reptile survival brain, what Martha Beck calls my ‘lizard.’ My lizard tells me that we are DOOOOMED. My body tells me that we need to stretch, to sing, to self-soothe with quiet rhythms. (Folding laundry works nicely.)

3

. I faced the worst-case scenario. My partner and I came up with a plan for what we would do if the reactor begins to spew, or if there is a serious food crisis in Tokyo, or any of the other frightening scenarios that have been haunting me. Now that I know what I will actually do if any of those events come to pass, I can dismiss them when they clamor for my attention. And the last line of every plan is: “And if none of that works, we wing it as well as we can.” This is actually a pretty good plan.

4. I questioned my scary thoughts. My underlying thought, the one that was making my heart palpitate and my fists clench, was: “We are in danger right this very second!” I asked, “Is this true?” And the answer is, Who the heck knows? We could be, for sure. But then any of us could be in danger at any minute of any day. But what I know right now is that I am sitting in my apartment with running water, electricity, heat, and very fast internet. My loved ones are safe. We are getting the best information we know how to get. So I choose to live in the blissful sense of safety that most of us inhabit when we’re not acutely aware that the sky could fall at any moment. Believing that I am safe is no more arbitrary, at this particular moment in time, than believing that I am in danger, but it feels a lot better and it makes me more insightful, more courageous, and more wise. It lets me think more creatively and compassionately. And all those things, paradoxically, will work to keep me and the ones I love safe. If I am in real physical danger, my system will flood with adrenaline and I will be able to act on the terror I’ve been feeling and suppressing these last two days. I will run, or fight, or negotiate, or do whatever I need to do. Until then, I choose to keep breathing deep, calming breaths (Thanks, Terry DeMeo) and asking myself, “Is that scary thought even true?”

5. I took constructive action. I made up a backpack full of emergency items and our important paperwork. Maybe your constructive action is making a phone call or getting something checked out. Maybe it’s opening the scary envelope or looking at your online balance. You’ll feel better if you just do it, I promise.

6. I let my body release. Because I was with my daughter during the most frightening part of the quake (lying on the floor of our 16th-floor apartment as it pitched and creaked like a ship in a storm), I spent significant energy holding it together for her. We talked a bit about how scared we both were, and she seemed okay, but later she had a major sobbing meltdown about something inconsequential. Then she was perky again. Little kids are very wise that way. I waited until I was alone in bed that night to sob and shudder. With each heave of my shoulders and shuddering quaking tremble, I let some of my fear and tension release. Animals tremble and shudder to shake off trauma; we need to do it too, even when the trauma is only visible to us.

7. I consciously flooded myself with beauty. I listened to music that makes me want to move my body and heal the world. For me this means Christine Kane, The Dixie Chicks, and other things too embarrassing to write here. I also bought flowers today, a big gorgeous bouquet of them, in a flagrant act of flipping the bird at fate. I am buoyed and nourished by their blooming faces as I make my way through my home.

8. I grounded back into my purpose. I had a brief panic about a class I’m teaching in a few weeks, The Queen Sweep. I wondered if clearing clutter would seem frivolous in light of global tragedy. I questioned its ultimate value in the world and the worth of the work I do. In other words, I freaked out. Many people are layering their immediate fear with scary thoughts like this about their future worth and their careers. Screw that. In a crisis like this, I’m more glad than ever that I know exactly where to find my passport; that my papers are in order and I’ve declared a guardian for my daughter; that we all have clean underwear and clean sheets to sleep on; and that my home is an oasis of calm and beauty. Whatever the crisis, the world needs people who are sharp, who know their stuff, and know what they can contribute. Be ready to bring what you can to the table.

9. I gazed at my daughter. She is so beautiful. She is so alive through her fear, her joy, her rage, her desire—she doesn’t shut any of it down. It’s all right there, messy and inconvenient at times, but gloriously awake.

10. Most importantly, I remembered that I am the boss of my own energy. I kept waiting for someone to make me feel better, to reassure me, to tell me what to do. Guess what? No one can declare dominion over my life besides me. I have to be the leader that I was waiting for. Chin up, deep breath, flowers on table. Here we go.

Anna Kunnecke

And an update from her March 15:

This morning I got very quiet. I lined everything up until I was still like a pool of water. I held my daughter in my mind, and my maternal lion roared. Not of danger, or a warning, but simply the clear knowledge of what I need to do to be at peace. So I am getting on a plane in a few hours with my girl.

And from a Japanese women, near Sendai, apparently written a few days ago…before the weather turned cold and snowy…

From my cousin in Sendai, Japan where she has lived for the past decade teaching English. Very moving!!

Hello My Lovely Family and Friends,

First I want to thank you so very much for your concern for me. I am very touched. I also wish to apologize for a generic message to you all. But it seems the best way at the moment to get my message to you.

Things here in Sendai have been rather surreal. But I am very blessed to have wonderful friends who are helping me a lot. Since my shack is even more worthy of that name, I am now staying at a friend's home. We share supplies like water, food and a kerosene heater. We sleep lined up in one room, eat by candlelight, share stories. It is warm, friendly, and beautiful.

During the day we help each other clean up the mess in our homes. People sit in their cars, looking at news on their navigation screens, or line up to get drinking water when a source is open. If someone has water running in their home, they put out sign so people can come to fill up their jugs and buckets.

Utterly amazingly where I am there has been no looting, no pushing in lines. People leave their front door open, as it is safer when an earthquake strikes. People keep saying, "Oh, this is how it used to be in the old days when everyone helped one another."

Quakes keep coming. Last night they struck about every 15 minutes. Sirens are constant and helicopters pass overhead often.

We got water for a few hours in our homes last night, and now it is for half a day. Electricity came on this afternoon. Gas has not yet come on. But all of this is by area. Some people have these things, others do not.

No one has washed for several days. We feel grubby, but there are so much more important concerns than that for us now. I love this peeling away of non-essentials. Living fully on the level of instinct, of intuition, of caring, of what is needed for survival, not just of me, but of the entire group.

There are strange parallel universes happening. Houses a mess in some places, yet then a house with futons or laundry out drying in the sun. People lining up for water and food, and yet a few people out walking their dogs. All happening at the same time.

Other unexpected touches of beauty are first, the silence at night. No cars. No one out on the streets. And the heavens at night are scattered with stars. I usually can see about two, but now the whole sky is filled. The mountains are Sendai are solid and with the crisp air we can see them silhouetted against the sky magnificently.

And the Japanese themselves are so wonderful. I come back to my shack to check on it each day, now to send this e-mail since the electricity is on, and I find food and water left in my entranceway. I have no idea from whom, but it is there. Old men in green hats go from door to door checking to see if everyone is OK. People talk to complete strangers asking if they need help. I see no signs of fear. Resignation, yes, but fear or panic, no.

They tell us we can expect aftershocks, and even other major quakes, for another month or more. And we are getting constant tremors, rolls, shaking, rumbling. I am blessed in that I live in a part of Sendai that is a bit elevated, a bit more solid than other parts. So, so far this area is better off than others. Last night my friend's husband came in from the country, bringing food and water. Blessed again.

Somehow at this time I realize from direct experience that there is indeed an enormous Cosmic evolutionary step that is occurring all over the world right at this moment. And somehow as I experience the events happening now in Japan, I can feel my heart opening very wide. My brother asked me if I felt so small because of all that is happening. I don't. Rather, I feel as

part of something happening that much larger than myself. This wave of birthing (worldwide) is hard, and yet magnificent.

Thank you again for your care and Love of me,

With Love in return, to you all,

Anne

And from another friend in California:

I am following with concern and with care in my heart what is happening in Japan for those affected and in the Middle East as well, but I also do not, at my very core, feel that the survival of the human race is l mandatory and therefore not ours to really 'hold' (although I do wish at times that I could believe in that being important, so as not be such a 'freak').

So a part of me feels that the most we can really do (other than helping in any direct and indirect ways via aid and policy influence) is live our own precious experiments of evolutionary lives as well as we possibly can (whatever that means for each of us) - and for me, more and more it is simply about finding those places where I can be expressing my Self with love and fullest integrity in all of my direct interconnections. Easy to say, harder to live out, for me.

#2011

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