Skillful means

Skillful means for staying sane… this title occurred to me recently, now into our second week of Advent, and into almost a year of Covid, with the countless roller coaster restrictions and many people are at bending and breaking points, financially, physically, emotionally… and in many other ways.  

Those of you reading this note, as am I and my families, are probably among the very fortunate. Even so, it is challenging, and we do need to draw on skilful means for staying sane at this time. Despite our good fortune, we miss or have lost the ability to connect with people we love, our ability to support those in facilities who would need our personal contact; to participate in many activities, healthy and/or pleasurable, that nourish us.

Depending on where you are, your age, family situation, there are many other dimensions of life are restricted, changed, gone.   Still, we are moving together to come through this deeply challenging time. So here is a very incomplete and off-the top-list of skillful means for staying sane.  It was fun and helpful for me to compile it, and I hope it will be the same for you to read it.

• Meditation is at the top of many such lists. It invites calm, space, capacity. Here’s one of many current options.  Creating Peace from the Inside Out

• Way up on the list is also Gratitude… there are many ways to experience gratitude. Some keep a daily journal; make a morning and/or every practice to simply list three specific things we are grateful for; take a moment of silence at mealtime… whatever your practice(s), the benefits are legion. It actually changes our brains in many good ways!

• Vying for the top of my personal list is deep breathing. It continues to calm and nourish me though my most challenging times.

• Eat well, finding the balance of health and pleasure, supporting local busineses/farmers and making our own meals… Too many sites to even choose one!

• Listen to music, dancing along, joining in, feeling connected. One of my old faves, Where the hell is Matt?, And a new discovery, I Sing the Body Electric, from Fame. Music and dance always lead me to laugh and cry, and really feel, my body, heart, connectedness.

• Connect deeply to our feelings,…feel, allow, don’t judge, let ’em flow through. Yes!

• Make a list of people we care about, or who might be alone and appreciate a check in. Call or zoom with them, and really connect. Here’s a lovely suggestion for sharing a ritual to connect over the miles.

• Take long slow, or fast brisk walks in nature. Stop to look at leaves, rub some Evergreen needles between your fingers and savor the smell. Forest Bathing is a real thing!

Dancing and exercise

• And of course don’t forget some form of exercise… Tai chi, Yoga, Nia, calisthenics, stair climing… one that works for you. And vary it up. I’ve just come across a very flexible set of exercises that can be done at home, just with body weight. Pretty cool! 50 Best Body Weight Exercises. Check it out.

ˆ FInd ways to contribute to those less fortunate. Gift certificates for street people; food bank; $$s to some of the thousands of organizations doing such good work in these crazy times.

• Rest, take a break, be still, do nothing. Not easy for me, but oh, so good to have in the mix. I came across this Spanish Proverb recently, which says it all :-). “How beautiful it is to do nothing and then rest afterward”. 

• Last, on this incomplete list, but ever so not least is humor: laughter, jokes, riddles, comedy… There’s a lot of wonderful material making the rounds. Best is when it’s not too much at another’s expense. A stand-up who is a recent favorite of ours is Nate Bargatze. Here’s a trailer for his Tennessee Kid. If it tickles you, check our the whole show. I like that it’s clean, simple, unexpected, and I LOL often and long.

These practices make us part of the worldwide movement toward evolving our consciousness. We can actually do this specifically: here’s one of many paths.

we are in this together

I would love to hear some of your skillful means for staying sane, some links or tips that nourish you. We are, now as ever, in this together.

Jill Schroder is the author of BECOMING: Journeying Toward Authenticity.  BECOMING is an invitation for self-reflection, and to mine our memorable moments for insights, meaning, andgrowth.  Check the website for a sample chapter, or see the reviews to get a flavor for the volume.  Follow me on Twitter, let’s be friends on Facebook. 🙂

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