There Is Always Good!

 

I was reading a poem this morning which touched me deeply and wanted to share it with all of you. It came to me by way of the Meadows.

“And the people stayed home. And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still. And listened more deeply. Some meditated,some prayed, some danced. Some met their shadows. And the people began to think differently.

And the people healed. And, in the absence of people oiving in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal.

And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and greamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed.”

Kitty O’Meara

I know these are stressful times and if you need to seek help of a professional I am available through telehealth. All be well and stay safe.

The Darker the Times the Greater the Opportunity for Transformation – Milarepa

For many of us dealing with uncertainty the times we are living through can be very difficult. We don’t like feeling powerless and it is tempting to remain passive. Going within ourselves is one way to empower ourselves. If we don’t feel empowered, we can’t stand together. If we can’t stand together, we can’t take meaningful action concerning the difficult circumstances we are facing and we miss a vital opportunity to connect with this most critical moment. How can we create spiritual meaning of this unfolding experience for ourselves? How are we taking responsibility for our part in this chaos?

What we believe about this situation influences how we will act in response. How we respond co-creates the results. We are living answers to the question. The exact same situation can cause one to respond with fear while someone else will respond with compassion. How we choose to respond impacts how we feel and live our lives.

What purpose are we sharing with our words, actions and responses to our family, friends and neighbors? The act of creating meaning begins with interacting with others. Our feelings, words and actions have significant impact on those around us.

Of course, we need to take responsibility and self-isolate as much as possible and that doesn’t mean we can’t ask for support from family and friends. Remember to take time each day to reach out to loved ones and remember we are all in this together.

When you do need to leave your home remember to smile at others, it will help everyone feel better. Thank the people who are working so you can get what you need and turn to strangers and ask how they are doing.

This is our time to think about our values and to remember to align them with our actions. If we can embrace our own feelings of vulnerability and share love with all those around us this will give us meaning and purpose and help us deal with anything with dignity and grace.

Love, Not Fear During These Challenging Times

We are going through some trying times which is creating a lot of uncertainty, lots of challenges and yes, opportunities. We are the ones who will make the choice of how much fear or how much love we will experience at this point in time.

As a psychologist I have been asked by many of my clients how to weather this event. Having to change our patterns gives us the greatest opportunity to rethink our lives. We are forced to focus on what our lives are really about. What do we really want to live for?  What gives our life meaning? This is a chance to let the healing energy of love permeate our lives. We can’t be consumed by fear or deny the reality of the pandemic, but we also need to allow ourselves to feel the love that surrounds us.

Whatever physical and social actions we must take to ensure moving successfully through this challenge, we should do so as acts of love and mutual caring, not acts of fear. We need to stand in love, cooperation and connection with each other and see this as an opportunity to feel a sense of our interconnectiveness. When we can stand together, we break the chains of fear and ultimately strengthen the bonds of community which will sustain all of us.

Here are some things we can do to help ourselves feel better during these challenging times.

  1. Remember to Breathe. This will calm your nervous system and lessen feelings of anxiety.
  2. Take one day at a time and focus on being calm
  3. Create meaning in your life.
  4. Do things that help you feel normal. This can have a positive impact on how you feel.
  5. Have a plan for the day. Organizing will give you a sense of security and control.
  6. Nurture your relationships – Connect with people but don’t focus on the coronavirus!
  7. Live a healthy lifestyle – Exercise, eat well and get plenty of sleep.
  8. Meditate – You may want to begin your day with an inspiring thought and meditate on that for a few minutes.
  9. Remember to be grateful throughout your day and appreciate what you do have. That will also give your day meaning.
  10. Create rituals. This too will give you a sense of stability.
  11. Watch your thoughts. During times of stress we may engage in more negative thinking. Thoughts will affect how you feel. The more positive you can be the less stress you will experience.
  12. Develop a positive philosophy as to what we are really dealing with. This is an important time to get in touch with your personal spiritual beliefs and to deepen your spiritual practice.
  13. Remember to be joyful. There is always something to be joyful about!
  14. Appreciate yourself!

You may want to put some of these tips on your refrigerator door or a place where you can readily see them to remind yourself of the things you can do. If you can follow these tips, cut down watching the news and stop following social media you will have far less anxiety, be much more resilient and feel a lot better. For those of you who feel you need extra help feel free to contact me. I am available for telehealth sessions over the phone. I can be reached at erborris@cox.net. Together we will all be fine.

 

The Arizona Educational Crisis and the Promise of Dialogue

With schools back in session after the #RedforEd walk-out, and the summer vacation just a few days away in most districts, the intensity of the Arizona education movement has relaxed into a steady hum of hope for the future and a grateful sigh for the respite of summer break.

On May 1, during the heat of the #RedforEd campaign, Thunderbird School of Global Management’s Dr. Eileen Borris facilitated a dialogue sponsored by Athena Valley of the Sun which was a collaborative effort of Arizona women’s groups concerned about the future of education in Arizona.

The goal of the dialogue was to discover the opportunities and apprehensions people have concerning what is happening to the education system in Arizona. Dr. Borris, a licensed psychologist and expert in peacebuilding and political forgiveness, was called on to help members of the community express their feelings on this very controversial issue and share their perceptions of the problems that affect the future of education in Arizona. The purpose was not to come to a consensus of agreement nor to determine which viewpoint was “right.” Rather, the purpose was to discover the richness of diverse perceptions that emerge from group discussion and create a shared meaning through inquiry and reflection.

“I wanted to make sure everyone in the room felt safe, had a voice and listened deeply to one another,” Dr. Borris says. “It was important that everyone learned something new, something they never thought about before. here is a big difference between a debate and a dialogue—and with this dialogue, the participants really heard one another and were affected by one another in a very positive way.”

The dialogue was as diverse as the participants who attended. People agreed that the issue about how to restore funding and improve education in Arizona was more complex than they thought. Some felt there was a lack of inclusiveness in solving the issue, while others felt that a lack of respect for the teaching profession was why more was not being done. Concerns were also expressed about retaining and developing passionate teachers when, under the current paradigm, teachers and schools are not being supported financially and otherwise. Participants called for strong leadership who demonstrate passion and vision that can drive change.

Dialogue participants also discussed several systemic issues which impact education, such as the economic future of the state, housing, poverty and the need to look at the situation holistically. The greatest concern raised was that individuals who need education the most are being left behind.

“I was very touched by the care and commitment around the room–and that it wasn’t just teachers speaking,” Dr. Borris says. “The dialogue involved concerned citizens from all walks of life.”

The group spent a great deal of time focusing on the issues of finance, as well as the fact that there are no businesses supporting education and there is a constant fight every year for funds. Participants agreed that there was a substantial need for more transparency involving budgets, goals and funding. What people were really hoping for is a more inclusive and positive political experience between politicians and educators, particularly so that teachers wouldn’t have to work multiple jobs to stay in the classroom.

The participants also wanted to see psychologically safe environments for learning where no child is lost to violence. They hoped that businesses would step up and adopt a school or take up other kinds of partnering with public schools to make them a better place for learning. The overall hope was that the classroom would produce lifelong learners so, as they grow into adults, children’s learning would continue to grow beyond the classroom.

“The question is, do we want to pay now or later,” Borris says. “Our society is changing and the needs of our children and youth have changed. Schools are not keeping up with the social, behavioral and technological changes taking place—and this is hurting the educational system. Our youth are incredibly important; they are our future and we need to invest in them. If we don’t invest in them now, our society will have a higher price to pay later.”