One reason I've been feeling so good is because of establishing a sense of continuity and normalcy in my routine--as much as possible. And the biggest example of that in my life is that as soon as I found out my in-person classes were cancelled, I moved forward with setting up online classes for Sheng Zhen meditation and qigong.
There are many things we cannot change or control. But this was something I could do to create a sense of continuity and normalcy both for myself and for my regular students. And I knew that would be just as good for our physical and mental health as the practices themselves.
So, after getting the email about class cancellations on a Thursday night, 12 hours after having just taught a class, I emailed some of my students to say stay tuned. And the next day I set up the online classes. I didn't wait for permission. I didn't wait for where I usually teach to come up with an online plan. I knew that on Tuesday I would still be teaching. And I'd teach every Tuesday and Thursday no matter what.
I felt proactive. Of service. And crystal clear.
In addition to it being my joy, I knew, without a doubt, that my regular students would want this. And I knew others would benefit from it too, so I put the word out to the general public.
And it's been amazing. The place I usually teach at on Tuesdays and Thursdays even got their own online plan together and so now even more people are showing up via Zoom!
And students are sharing about how it makes them smile, brings calm, and just how helpful it is now. For my regular students, I'm sure part of the benefit is that sense of continuity, and even "normalcy" even though we're online rather than in person.
So back to that idea of continuity and normalcy in times of big changes and uncertainty....
Like I said above, it's helpful for our health. Especially our mental health. We can't control everything, but there are some things we can control. There are still ways in which we can exercise choice in a way that serves us best.
The truth is, for me, life isn't all that much different because, in addition to being a homebody, I mostly work from home anyway. But the other day while walking my dog, I was thinking that if I were somebody who commuted each day, not just twice a week, this whole "stay at home" thing would probably feel hard and strange.
So, here are some ideas if you're struggling with staying home, especially if you used to work away from home:
1) If you normally commute, consider taking a drive if you have a car, even just a short one during at least one of the times that you're usually on the road. Or go for a walk or bike ride at that time. Or go out into your yard if you have one.
2) As much as possible, maintain the same kind of schedule you had before. If your kids are home, too, maybe this is not fully possible, but hopefully at least somewhat possible. Or maybe you adapt your schedule so that you can fit in some of your "normal" activities before the kids get up or after they go to sleep?
3) If you're not already participating in online group activities (ie meetings, dances, my classes, etc.), consider participating in some group online activities--especially at the times that you used to, before things changed. For example, if you used to attend yoga classes, find a yoga class online, or just practice on your own at that time. Or if you always went out for dinner or a movie or a walk with a certain friend or group of friends, set up some sort of virtual hang out. And if you don't like the group idea? Video call a friend or family member. Reach out. Find ways to connect and interact with others.
I'm going to just leave you with that. I might have some other ideas, but I also am considering rewriting and expanding this to submit to an online journal, in which case it's best not to write it all here first! ;-)
Just get creative. This is a great time to learn how to adapt and think outside the box. It's also a great time to slow down and do some self-reflecting. And it's also a great time to feel your feelings. It's okay if you're feeling sad, scared, anxious, bored, lonely, frustrated, etcetera. I just don't want you to get stuck in those emotions.
And I'm here if you need some support.
A couple weeks ago, I posted a blog called "When in Doubt, Go Outside." For years, I've also often said, "When in doubt, practice Sheng Zhen." If we're Skype contacts, then you've seen that message there under my name.
And as I sit here to write this now, I'm thinking about how it's not just about doing the actual moving and non-moving practices of Sheng Zhen that helps in times of doubt. It's also just simply Sheng Zhen, which is defined as sacred truth, or unconditional love.
In times of doubt, yes, Sheng Zhen's meditations in motion and in stillness help by opening the heart and relaxing the body and mind, taking you into the Sheng Zhen state, bringing more peace, joy, and clarity. But even if you don't know the Sheng Zhen forms yet, summoning within yourself a feeling of unconditional love can help. Asking your inner wisdom or a higher power what's truly True can help.
I have more to say about this, but my newborn niece is sleeping nearby, and I gotta wrap this up soon. I just wanted to keep a recent promise I made to myself: post a new blog entry at least once a week. So here it is! ;)
Perhaps I'll expand more on this another time. But for now, just remember that Sheng Zhen helps in times of doubt. And if you don't already know any of the Sheng Zhen practices, consider learning them. In the meantime, remember love. Love without conditions. The pure, generative, creative energy of love. And ask yourself or a higher power for guidance; ask for Truth. And then be receptive and courageous enough to listen, to hear what's coming through. And then follow through.
Happy February! Or is it?
Here in Seattle, February may not feel so happy. This month, from my perspective, can be a bit challenging emotionally and energetically. It's grey and cold and wet and blah. Plus, sometimes by now the momentum of January-- the "it's a new year, and I'm gonna kick ass doing all the things I said I'd do this year"-- has reached a temporary pause or plateau. And this particular February, with Mercury retrograde in full effect, some of what we were giving our attention to in January is now up for reconsideration and revaluation. Am I right? Have you been feeling any of that?
Now if you're feelin' great and still chugging along just fine, congrats! But if you're feeling a bit down or discouraged, frustrated, or like things are sort of on hold or up in the air or not falling into place, not clear, here are a few tips:
1) First of all, feel your feelings. All of them. Do not get sucked down into the abyss, but don’t spiritual bypass here either. I used to be a big fan of spiritual bypassing, such as by "choosing joy" and trying to only focus on the silver linings. Now I know that it's essential to honor and feel the pain and the hurt as well. It’s essential to feel into the depths of your sadness, anger, frustration, fear, and shame, to cry your tears, to yell and scream (not at others, but in a private and safe space), and to let yourself simply feel like crap for a bit if that's how you feel. Allow, allow, allow, and feel. To heal. And trust in the process as it unfolds. Be present with the process, with the ebbs and flows, the highs and lows. Know everything is going to be ok, already is ok, and about to get even better, one way or the other. Feel your feelings, and keep on breathing.
2) Commit to starting your day off right. Did you know that spending 10 minutes, or even just a few minutes, in the morning to think about who and what you love, to envision your goals, to think about what's good, what you're grateful for, can set you up for an awesome day? Trust me. This works. When you first wake up, before getting out of bed, give yourself several minutes for focusing only on all the yummy, juicy, goodness in your life. And as long as you’re also allowing yourself to feel your feelings as they come and go throughout the day, this doesn’t qualify as spiritual bypassing. Since the human brain has a tendency to focus more on the negative, we must retrain it with techniques such as this, to redirect your attention and mindset to focus more on what’s good, to remember what’s good. So go ahead and try it!
3) Morning pages. First thing in the morning, WRITE. By hand. In a notebook. 3 pages. Non-stop. Write before you are awake enough to really think or censor yourself. Just let it flow. Write honestly about how you feel, what your stories are, what your fears are, what your truths are, what your questions are. Be open to the answers coming through. Ask for them to come through. Then listen as you continue to write. Not only will this be like a detox, getting it out of your system, but clarity and peace and healing can come through this process. You just might write yourself out of that rut or bad mood!
4) Move it or lose it. Exercise. Dance. Run. Hike. Whatever gets your heart rate up. I could write much more on this, on why cardio is so helpful for stress and especially for anxiety, so stay tuned for more. But for now, just get moving. Break up the stagnation. If you're feeling physically depressed, it might be hard to get started, but as soon as you do start moving and breathing and sweating, you're going to feel better. Even if only in the moment.
5) Be in the moment. Speaking of the moment, yes, be in it. Be in the present moment. Distract yourself from any nagging or tape loop thoughts about the past or the future by being fully present with what's happening in this moment, with what's right in front of you. I mean that; look at what's right in front of you. Look at an object in front of you. Focus on it, and if possible, pick it up. Look at it closely. Allow yourself to be mesmerized by it. Take in every detail. If you're touching it, feel how it feels. Be here now. And delight in the simplicity. Relax into the peace of presence.
Alright, folks. That's all for now. So give these a try, and comment below on how it goes. I'd also love to see if you have any other tips. What works for you? What doesn't? If you're willing to share, please comment below.
 Spiritual bypassing, a term first coined by psychologist John Welwood, is the use of spiritual practices and beliefs to avoid dealing with our painful feelings, unresolved wounds, and developmental needs.
 Morning pages is a practice from Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way.
Rebecca Clio Gould is a Certified Sheng Zhen Teacher and Holistic Wellness Coach. Her specialties include self-love, embodied joy, women's sexuality, spirituality, surgery preparation, and trauma recovery. She is also a Supreme Science Qigong Instructor, Essence vs Form Coach, and Award-winning Author of "The Multi-Orgasmic Diet: Embrace Your Sexual Energy and Awaken Your Senses for a Healthier, Happier, Sexier You."