Monday, May 2, 2011

Staying Calm

Right after Hurricane Fran wreaked havoc on our neighborhood, I became a mild hoarder. My children will attest to the fact that I stocked water, batteries and canned goods until the shelves sagged. I didn't want to use any of them because I was afraid we'd need them in a crisis.

That was 1996. It has taken me many years to be able to go into a grocery store and only buy what I need for the week or the month. I can only just lately let go of my fears for my children who live in big cities and who travel freely by plane, train and car. I don't worry obsessively when I get on a plane to go somewhere. I feel safe with money in banks and a few stocks.

I don't feel glad about the death of Osama Bin Laden. As a fellow blogger said, he was a cockroach, and if you kill one, there are ten more skittering around in the background. And the weather does seem to be more volatile lately. So it is very difficult for me, with the recent devastation caused by earthquakes and tornadoes and the increasing tension in the world, to keep my former unhealthy feelings at a distance. In my most worried moments, I think of survival again: moving away to a place where I can homestead (where though?), cashing in, going off the grid.

I love the interplay of life so much though that I think I would be miserable. Even if I felt safe.

I try not to watch too much world news, I steer far away from fear mongering bloggers, I meditate and breathe deeply. I go to my yoga and writing classes and distract myself by reading novels and magazines about psychology and spirituality. I go to work, live day by day without thinking too much about the future. It's a conscious effort.

I would love to hear how some of you deal with your stress over what happens around us. Fear is one of the things that keeps this world in turmoil. I don't want to participate in that.


Virginia S. Wood, Psy.D. said...

I go to work, live day by day. . . oblivious. If I really thought about it all, I'd surely go mad.

I almost never watch network news, although I will read some of the paper, now and then. Firstly, as research demonstrates, too much news will make you depressed. And paranoid. But secondly, and perhaps more important for me, personally, it is hard to maintain a thoroughgoing obliviousness and be well-informed at the same time.

I meditate, assiduously living in just this present moment, for about 40 minutes a day. I try to live mindfully throughout the day, but I'm less good at that. And I try to remember the principle embodied in the Serenity Prayer that there are some things I can do nothing about. I especially try not to let those things rent space in my head.

These principles are embodied in Woods Rules, one of which states, "If you don't have a problem right now, you don't have a problem." There's a corollary to that one, to wit, "If you do have a problem, but there's nothing you can do about it right now, then for all practical purposes, you don't have a problem!

In application to real life, that means that if, right now, there is no hurricane bearing down on us, I'm cool. And even if there were, once I've stocked up and prepared as best I can, and there's nothing else I can do about it right now, then I'm cool.

It works for me.

mamie said...

Va, Thanks for treating this subject with such respect and responding so completely and honestly. It's nice to know, by your answer, that I'm not alone in either my avoidances or my practices. And yes, you're cool. I'd really like to get together now that we're grownups.