5 Moves To Help Fix Your Low Back

A sore low back is a pretty common complaint for a lot of people. The reasons for the soreness are as varied as the folks who are experiencing it, but the bottom line with any soreness at all, is that the whole surrounding area likely needs some TLC.

Sometimes a sore back happens because a person’s hamstrings (the backs of their legs) are tight. A sore back may even be happening because of tightness or injury in their shoulders, believe it or not. It’s all connected. A sore back can be indicative of a weak core, or an unstable pelvis, among a thousand other things. 

Here I’m focusing on just 5 moves to help fix your low back, a little bit of everything, so you can get back to feeling great. Spend as long as you like with each move, but shoot for about a minute with each one.

#1 Knee circles

Lay on your back, draw your knees toward your chest and cup the knees with your hands. Gently move them apart and into nice big circles. Nice and slow, and both directions with the circles.

#2 Three way leg stretch

Lie on your back with your legs in an “L” shape, right leg up.

Put a strap or a belt across the ball of your right foot. Stretch the heel toward the ceiling, toes down toward your face. Keep both legs active; left toes point toward the ceiling. Let the stretch get as deep as you can, and hold for 10 long breaths.

Take the strap in your right hand and send the leg to the right. Now you are pushing the big toe side of the foot into the strap. This stretch is for the inner thigh, and can be intense. Just as with the first one, let it get as deep as you can, and hold for 10 big breaths.

Now take the strap in the left hand and send leg to the left, stacking the right hip on top of the left. Now the stretch will come into the outside of the leg. Push the pinky toe side of the foot into the strap, let the stretch get as big as you can, and hold 10 breaths. 

Take a moment to send that right leg down on the floor next to the left. Feel how much longer the right leg feels. That, is exactly why we’re here my friend.  

Repeat on the left leg.

#3 Around the world

On hands and knees, take the weight forward into the hands and then over to the right. Then hips back toward heels. Then take the weight over toward the left as you bring it back forward. Both directions with the circles.

#4 Pelvis stability bridge

Lay on your back with knees bent. Press your feet into the mat and lift the hips. Lift the right leg and left arm. Repeat with left leg and right arm. If you are working on building pelvic stability, you can omit the arms and just focus on the lift of the legs.

The intention is to not move the body at all. The body is supported by the core, the standing leg, and the shoulders. 

#5 30/60/90 legs

Lay on your back and send the legs straight up to 90 degrees. Your hands can be down by your hips, or even under your hips, if it helps your back feel supported. The more challenging version is to send the arms up overhead so they cannot help your core in the movement. 

Squeeze the legs together and lower them to 60 degrees, then almost to the floor, then back to 90 degrees. Slow and steady. Imagine your lower abdominals acting like a seatbelt, holding your low back against the floor. 

This will help strengthen the deep core muscles that can help support the low back. If it is too challenging to take the legs so close to the floor, go only so far as you still feel empowered and strong, only as far as you can still feel that “seatbelt”. 

Good luck! Need any help? Reach out! emily@thechangingroom.blog. 

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“It’s coming”

I was talking with a friend the other day about the power of our thoughts… how easily we can (and do) knock ourselves off balance just by thinking of what might happen, or how badly things could go. On some level, we all understand that our thoughts become things… we think to ourselves that we want coffee, so we make a thing called coffee. The thought became a thing.

Just as clearly as we manifest that coffee, the thoughts we have, the way we talk to ourselves, the things that go on in our head that no one can hear but us, they too become things. And others can perceive those things. If you tell yourself that you’re no good, you’ll never really feel good. In a very real way, others will sense this belief you hold about yourself.

Our Thoughts Become Our Vibe

Throughout life, people will treat you in accordance with what you tell yourself. If you don’t really believe anything good is on its way to you, then expect mediocrity to follow. No opportunity will impress you, ever.

We’ve got to be mindful of, vigilant about, and responsive to, our inner dialogue. It shapes our reality in so many ways.

A friend of mine is a waiter at one of my favorite restaurants. When someone places an order, he always says in his thick Spanish accent “it’s coming”. Antonio is a really positive person, and I just love the simplicity of this affirmation. 

It’s Coming

Now, when I catch myself thinking about how this thing isn’t going to work out, or that situation is never going to be any different, I change the thought to “it’s coming”. What I want and need in life is on its way, so I can just let it go. Dispense with the worry. That kind of thing really doesn’t look good on any of us anyway. 


Take a time out with me for an hour every Tuesday morning. We’ll stretch our bodies, breathe deeply into the farthest reaches of our lungs, and share a personal connection that’s so valuable and necessary these days. Register here for class.

“Practice, and all is coming.”

Sri K. Pattabhi Jois

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The 5 Best Stretches For Sore Necks

We all have that one trouble spot in our bodies. For some, like myself, it’s a “bad neck”. Something akin to the bad back, which you may be familiar with, the bad neck can be somewhat of a moving target in terms of the actual problem. It’s just sore a lot of the time. These neck stretches can help.

A sore neck can lead to headaches and other problems, not to mention they’re downright uncomfortable. If you find yourself in need of a little TLC, here are five different neck stretches to get some movement and range of motion back into that stiff and sore neck of yours.

The Five Best Neck Stretches

1. Simple Side/Side

Begin seated in whatever way is most comfortable. In the video, I am on my shins but you can be seated cross-legged or even in a chair. 

  1. Bring your right ear toward your right shoulder.
  2. Clasp your hands behind you and bring the back of your left hand to your right waist.
  3. Breathe deeply into the left side of your neck. Give it 5-10 long, slow breaths and repeat on the other side.

2. Fold & Push

This too can be done in any seated position that suits you.

  1. Interlace fingers in front of you and push your palms away. Concentrate on heels of hands pushing outward. It helps to imagine pushing right into a solid wall with the whole surface of the palms.
  2. Tuck chin toward chest.
  3. Suck the belly up, in, and back. Imagine someone behind you with a big candy cane, pulling you backward. Breathe deeply for as long as it feels good.

3.  Cat/Cow

Come to hands and knees, also known as “tabletop position”.

  1. Inhale: look up and send tailbone up.
  2. Exhale: round the spine, look at belly button, tuck tailbone.
  3. Flow up and down through the spine, making the movement smoother and smoother.

4. Simple twist

Sit in any way that is comfortable. Cross-legged works best in my body but this works on shins or in a chair.

  1. Keep hips stable while shoulders rotate to the right.
  2. Exhale and draw belly button toward the spine. Reach up through the crown of the head, and down through the tailbone.
  3. Try to twist the head, neck, and eyes all to the right. Hold for 10 deep breaths and repeat on the other side.

5. Chest Opener

Choose any seat that works for you

  1. Clasp your hands loosely behind you.
  2. Gently roll your shoulders up, back and down, drawing the shoulder blades together behind you. When you have a smooth glide through the shoulders, straighten the arms and send the knuckles straight down behind you. Just like you practiced with the heels and palms of the hands at the beginning, take care to reach the pinky knuckles straight down along with the others.
  3. Tailbone sends down, heart beams up. Take 10 long breaths.

Follow along with the video here:

Take A Moment To Breathe

Stretching your muscles is a great way to get some relief when your neck (or any part of you) is feeling stiff and sore. After you’re finished taking a few moments for yourself, pause and feel. Take note of the ways you feel better, and thank your body for the hard work it does on your behalf. Gratitude is a deep breath from within a contented soul. Cultivate as much of that goodness as you can.

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Practical Magic

I’m having a moment, really feeling my life’s blessings. Speeding through the jungle down a coastal highway in Puerto Vallarta, with a wall of dense green foliage on my left, and two different shades of blue to my right: sky blue and water blue. It is a glorious sunny morning, and I am in an Uber on my way to meet with a yoga client. The music is a little on the loud side, but with the windows down and the breeze on my face, the zippy beat of this particular music is actually kind of perfect. My mind stops to reflect on how great this moment is. How good it feels to be healthy and alive, on my way somewhere, toes tapping, with stunning views no matter where my eyes roam. 

Life’s Blessings Create Flow

I’m struck in this moment by how uniquely mine my life has become. In spite of its relative simplicity, how incredibly full it feels. How blessed I really am to exist in this jungle haven, far from a life that stressed me out so badly before. A life with too many parts that made it all feel like an ill-fitting sweater on a too-hot day. In this moment I feel so fortunate for the life I am living now. 

Of course my life is not perfect… far from it.

But I often have moments of magic that hit me this way, and I hope I always do. 

On this special morning, I had two yoga students instead of the usual one. My client’s neighbor had finally decided to join us after weeks of open invitations. 

I love teaching new people. There is an element of adventure in it for me, a level of surprise. Here’s this brand new body I have never seen before! I wonder how this one bends and moves. I wonder which pose is this body’s “gift pose”. As any teacher of any fitness modality will tell you, every body is incredibly unique. We all show up with moves that our bodies can inhabit brilliantly, and others that our bodies have no idea how to put together. That’s just one of the beautiful things about body work. 

Life’s Blessings Bring Abundance

I suppose it’s a funny thing that while the student is probably freaking out on the inside because of all the things they are worried they can’t do, I’m freaking out on the inside because of all the things we’re about to discover they can do.

I’m excited about the abundance that they’re about to unlock, available right in their own bodies. The empowerment that they are about to experience. The magic. Maybe it will turn out that they can do a great backbend. Or they love twisting their spine, or they have incredible balance. Sometimes they’re just really excellent breathers. It may sound funny, but a lot of people aren’t great at breathing. If you possess a deep, honest natural breath, your brain and bodily systems are definitely being nourished in a better way than many people’s. So don’t sell it short. That’s a gift.

There is no one like you. That’s your superpower.

The whole trick is to believe in your own magic. Believe in the unique strengths of your own body. Believe in the beauty of the life you’ve built, and how perfect it looks on you. Know that it looks so good because it fits you so well. Keep moving toward the things that feel good, disregarding the things that don’t, and listen to your gut when something feels wrong. As a favorite teacher of mine likes to say “if it feels wrong, it probably is”. Always go with your gut. There’s a reason it’s called a “gut feeling”. There’s magic to be found in following your intuition.

When people say things like “I don’t do yoga because I can’t touch my toes”, I cringe, because who cares if you can touch your toes? There’s a gift pose out there for you to find. An actual, physical pose, and a metaphorical one for your life, too. But you’ve got to believe it’s there to be found, that you already possess some measure of magic just sitting there waiting to be unlocked. 

The magic is in your essence. 

There is an empowering way to posture yourself, in places like exercise but also in life too, that will begin to give rise to your own magic… your own life’s blessings. This particular way that you feel the most empowered is uniquely yours, intuitive only to you. Just like our bodies, no two ways of being in life are exactly the same. Nor should they be. 

Finding your way is largely a matter of getting curious about what feels good, easy, and right to you. It’s about believing in your own magic, and putting it front and center in your life. That’s how you get more magic. By focusing on your gifts, and your strengths. The unique way that you shine. 

Don’t worry about your toes. They’ll always be there for you to reach for. And one day you will finally touch them, and you’ll think to yourself “well that’s nice”. Because nothing happens when you finally arrive. There’s no magic in touching your toes. The magic is in the journey that unfolds on the way there, in the moments that take your breath away. The ones that excite and inspire you, on your way to wherever home is for you. 

The magic is found in the curiosity that arises about your own unique empowerment. It is found in the perfection of inhabiting that empowerment, life’s blessings, even for just a few moments at a time.

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The Thing About Monday

One recent Monday I was wrapping up with a yoga client, and I said “I appreciate you, Namaste. Happy Monday!” And I noticed suddenly that I was genuinely sincere with that. Here it was, Monday, and I didn’t have a case of the Mondays. 

But I always have a case of the Mondays, even though I have no real reason to anymore. I no longer have to go into the office on Monday, I don’t even technically work for anyone so I don’t have a hateful boss I want to avoid. There is no reason for me to dislike Mondays, but until recently I certainly did. To me, they are a reminder of stressful situations and the end of fun weekends.

Monday represents the job I don’t want that doesn’t pay me enough to live high on the hog enough to make the job I don’t want even worth it. Monday actually represents a lot, when I started really looking at it. Or at least it did. I wasted years of Mondays, lost to nothing more than bad thoughts about Mondays.

But I realized at that moment as I was closing the session with my yogi, that I was genuinely happy that Monday. I really hoped she had a wonderful Monday too. I was free from that “boo Monday” club. Some time over the last couple of years, as I’ve worked to untie so many knots in my brain, I must have gotten to that one. I don’t seem to have a thing about Monday anymore.

Suddenly, Monday and I are amigos. 

What do I mean when I say “I’ve worked to untie knots in my brain?” To be honest I don’t know but that’s exactly how it feels. These days my brain doesn’t feel like such a tight mass of looped thoughts that don’t seem to have a purpose. Over the last couple of years, I have begun to place a lot of focus on the quality of my thoughts and making them happier.

I’m one of those people who will ruminate on something ad nauseam. Whatever has happened may be ancient history, but I’m still turning it over in my mind… replaying the exact moment when this person wronged me or that person said the hurtful thing. Over and over and over again. Maybe you do that too. A lot of us do. 

At one point a couple of years ago I had begun to notice I was always having negative thoughts, and they were making me completely miserable. There was so much stress happening in my life at the time that I had very few moments of happiness each day. I would wake up and immediately start stressing out about everything under the sun, from a meeting that wouldn’t even be happening for another three days, to an annoying event that occurred last week. It was just all dark thoughts from my first waking moments each day to my last. I was all over the place, and I had no peace.

It was very chaotic in my head.

It was about then that I joined a Facebook group where she offered several free gifts of recordings she had made. Loops of mantras, just uplifting phrases, recorded over a soundtrack that itself was recorded at the healing frequency of 528hz. This is said to be a frequency that resonates with the frequency of the human heart, and with nature itself (bees buzz at 528hz, chlorophyll vibrates at that frequency too, among lots of other things), so it is very balancing for us.

At the time I hadn’t done much learning about neuroscience, mental frequencies, or anything like that, but I knew it felt nice to hear her say nice things. So every morning, as soon as I woke up, before my thoughts even started turning, I pressed “play” and spent 10 minutes being spoon-fed the right kind of thoughts. 

The shift began almost immediately. I started feeling just a little better, all the time. It became so important and inspiring to me that I recorded my own set of mantras, with a soundtrack also recorded at 528hz, using my friend’s professional sound booth. I had determined at the time that I was feeling very anxious because of so much uncertainty in my life. So all of the statements in my recording are of peace and empowerment in times of struggle and uncertainty.

I made it a “freebie” for people who join The Changing Room’s mailing list. Periodically I receive a random message from someone who tells me they were helped by that little recording, and that makes me so happy. It really helped me too. It represents one of the first stepping stones on my way to meaningful contentment inside my own head, and it means a lot to me. I’m gifting it to you now, and I hope it does something good for you too… that it’s the spark you need. 

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B_ihQ7XtzIJ8eU12ekV1ZEJMZDNWeFBrZ3F6ay1uVmRuTEhR/view?usp=sharing

Our brains are negativity machines. 

Why are we always looking to latch on to the negative? Because back in caveman days, the negative is what got us killed. The negative is the tiger in the bushes that we see one second too late, or the snake hiding in the grass that we miss entirely. Back in caveman days, the one who wasn’t constantly on the prowl for the negativity in every situation literally got eaten alive. They didn’t get to reproduce, they didn’t pass on their genes.

So negativity, and being vigilant about it, is literally right in our genes. But since we don’t have any tigers trying to eat us anymore, we have moved our negativity patrol to things like Monday. How much it sucks, and all the threats that Monday brings with it. Thankfully we can circumvent our naturally negative minds. We can re-route our basic instincts. 

It’s really silly when you think about it. Even Garfield hates Monday. Sunday, for many people, is a tiny funeral for the weekend, every single week. Our thoughts start turning before the clock ever strikes midnight: tomorrow is going to suck because Monday. But Monday never did anything but be the first day of the week. We’ve made a villain out of Monday, and in so doing we’ve made it a stressor.

We don’t need any more stressors. 

Studies have shown that the average person has about 4,000 distinct thoughts each day. Of those, between 22 and 31 percent of them are considered unwanted, uncontrollable, and intrusive thoughts. Ninety-six percent of our thoughts are just repetitive thoughts about daily activities.

You know that loop I’m talking about. We all have one. We all come from the same cavemen. All of our ancestors were on the lookout for death at every turn. That’s how we got here. So it’s our natural propensity to keep all the bad stuff that could happen, right at the forefront of our mind. It’s self-preservation, basic instinct. But all that worrying produces a mountain of stress hormones, and a sustained level of those hormones really throws us out of whack. 

Don’t Worry, Be Happy

To me, the saddest part is that it doesn’t matter. No amount of worry makes any difference to what is actually happening. All that fretting is for naught, but our health really suffers under that sustained stress. The list of ailments that can be directly attributed to sustained stress and high levels of the stress hormone cortisol includes:

  • High blood pressure
  • Death of neurons in the brain’s memory centers
  • Heart disease
  • Accelerated aging of skin and joints
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Fatigue
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Slow healing
  • Reduced bone repair
  • Fewer stem cells
  • Reduced muscle mass
  • Osteoporosis

Imagined threats become real ones. There go our thoughts again, becoming things. 

The Monday Tiger

Our bodies suffer and our brain health suffers too when we experience constant stress. Cortisol is a hormone, and it’s released whenever there is a boulder rolling down a hill at us, or when a tiger is trying to eat us, or when tomorrow is Monday. What cortisol actually does is shut part of your brain down so it can send those resources to your muscles.

Now you can jump out of the way, or run for your life, or just sit there and freak out because you can’t outrun time. It’s the sitting there and freaking out that’s really bad, and doubly so because the freaking out has fogged your brain. You’re not thinking clearly because you’re trying to outrun a day, or a memory, or a hurtful comment. This means you’re not right here in the moment, and rarely do you have that luxury.

You’re running for your life, all the time. 

Over the years I’ve realized, and maybe you have too, that we’re always just reacting to what is happening around us. I’ve been doing this, I’ve been behind the eight ball, for as long as I can remember. Until quite recently I’ve been trying to pay the bills, impress a boss, move up the ladder, not lose my mind, play along, be likable, smile more, pretend I don’t see it (or pretend that I do), and think positively of course because that’s what they all say to do. Thoughts become things, so this thought too may become a stressful thing. 

But for me, the stress has finally begun to dissolve. I know it all started with a clean slate of positive thoughts, first thing every morning. It has taken a lot of commitment. But with those clearer, focused thoughts I’ve been able to begin directing my mood, and my attitude, more easily. 

Big Words With Big Meaning

One of the mantras in the above recording is “I make the rules, and I choose to let it be easy.” That was a profound statement for me to make at the time, as are a lot of those statements. You can actually hear my voice crack as I say one of the other affirmations. At the time of that recording, I’m faking it ‘til I make it. I don’t believe the statements I am making. But I do believe that I need to believe the statements, and that was enough for me in that moment. I could build from there. And I did. 

By seeding my day with positive affirmations, it began to propagate to other parts of my life. Mostly I just felt good. Right here, feeling good, enjoying the breeze on my skin in this moment. Over the last couple of years, I have cut a lot of people and things out of my life, or more accurately these things have simply fallen away.

I’m not vibing at that level anymore, so these things just don’t hold sway anymore. I have started getting really interested in herbal medicine, and nutrition. The science behind happiness. How our brains work, and how to leverage this incredible tool instead of letting it rule us. 

One of the neatest tricks our brain can do is travel through time.

We can reminisce on events from years ago. We can bring ourselves right back to that moment in time, and we can relive it over and over again. And relive it we do, particularly if that was a threatening event. We need to keep it alive so it doesn’t happen again. So we paint that picture in our minds vividly, and we live it over and over again.

But our brain can’t tell the difference between now and then, it only knows it is experiencing this stressful event, so it reacts with a shot of cortisol. It’s these constant, unnecessary shots that begin to mess with every part of us. It doesn’t just give us brain fog and make us fat, cortisol contributes to even more maladies than that list above. 

But we can take back our power, harness the immense capability of our brains by focusing it on the here and now. Training our thoughts on things and ideas that promote healing in our bodies, rather than irritation and inflammation. Meditation. Proper nutrition. Good thoughts, general merriment.

Monday The Thief

The thing about Monday is that it seems like it robs us of Sunday, but actually we do that ourselves. We give away our Sunday, and our Monday. We can, and should have a whole Sunday and a whole Monday… a whole day every day. We deserve clear minds and contented feelings. It begins by untying your own knots, one by one, whatever they are. Pick a spot and dive in. Find some uplifting thoughts. Watch them become things. 

The trick is to keep your eye on it. Stay committed, don’t be passive. You’ve got to take an active part in the evolution of those thoughts… you have to watch them become things. It’s in the watching that you rewire your brain, it’s there that healing happens. You are not your thoughts… you are the watcher of your thoughts. That is where your power lies.

Make your thoughts meaningful, delicious, nourishing, full of life and affirmation. You must, because the message is going all the way down into your cells… right into your genes… telling them how to express themselves. Give them a healthy expression, and watch your whole body come alive in a new way. 

Welcome to a whole new way of being. A truly happy Monday. I appreciate you. Namaste.

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Heal The World Through Awareness

A while back in one of the “feel-good” groups on Facebook, a woman shared a photo of two lunches she’d made. Along with it was a story about how she’d recently learned her son had been sharing his lunches with a friend at school, who was going hungry at lunch. So from a place of privilege and loving kindness, she had started sending him to school with two lunches. The photo showed two bagged sandwiches, two bags of chips, two sliced apples in bags, and two drinks. Her commentary on the post was how good it made her feel to help her son’s friend and to teach her son about sharing the abundance he’s been blessed with. 

Most of the comments were as expected: “Nice job, Mama!” and “Way to raise ‘em right!”

Then someone commented, in a firm but respectful way, that what she’d actually done was simply double the amount of single-use plastic she was putting into landfills. Her son was indeed receiving a message that his actions matter, but the lesson involving his actions toward the planet wasn’t there.

New Awareness Can Be Rough

It was shocking to read, frankly, and for a moment I bristled at the comments. The woman was just trying to do something nice, and here comes this person to burst her bubble. But that commenter was not wrong. Their awareness was simply broader than many of ours, and the ensuing conversation was fascinating. Watching people’s light bulbs turn on, including my own, was a different kind of communion with my fellow humans. Sitting on the internet, metaphorically looking at each other slack-jawed like “how is this so obvious and also such a shocker?” There was very little arguing. It was a whole lot of “Well, shoot. Can’t unsee that now.”

Two friends of mine are a married couple and they have a rule in their house: If you’re the one to see the cat puke first, you have to clean it up. There is no denying that you saw it. You simply take care of business because that mess needs cleaning, and you’re no better than your partner. You don’t pass the buck.

Expand Into Understanding

In life, there are so many ways that we can be aware. We can read books, do our own research, or gain knowledge through experience. These things help us with a deeper understanding of the world around us. Awareness can involve simply opening our eyes and paying attention to what’s happening. Or even closing our eyes, to become more attuned with certain internal and external subtleties. 

There are just as many ways to be unaware… many are equal and opposite to the ways we can bring about awareness. We can choose not to educate ourselves. We close our eyes, not so that we can tune in to the subtleties, but because whatever is in front of us is too hard to look at… or doesn’t agree with our agenda. Sometimes we close our eyes to tune out, but not in that blissful, meditative way. We’re tuning out the cat puke.

Metaphorically speaking, certain laws and societal structures sometimes make it so our eyes get closed for us… or more accurately, certain blinders are placed. The eyes still function, and that’s great news. So we can choose to heighten our awareness, remove the blinders, but first we must be aware that there even are blinders. That society is offering you one awareness, but in reality there are many.

Be Teachable

Many of us are finding a new awareness right now, in many different aspects of life. We are working through the finer points of a worldwide pandemic, for example. In the beginning, it was a little more “kumbaya” than it is now. More “we’re all in the same boat” kind of feel. But that idea didn’t last long, because it quickly became apparent that we are not all in the same boat. It’s more like we’re all in the same storm. Some of us have yachts, while others have rowboats. Some have a small piece of flotsam upon which to cling, and there are plenty more who don’t even have that much. We’re not all in the same boat, not by a long shot. 

It’s easy to come at things from our own perspective, and indeed that’s always going to be the default. But this is some of that awareness I’m talking about: Listening without judgment, without defensiveness, when people say “no actually, we’re not all in the same boat.” Or “all you did was double the plastic.” It is from this place where solutions can come. By becoming aware that my neighbor is suffering, I can help somehow. By sticking to the idea that we’re all on an even footing with this pandemic, I keep my eyes shut and my awareness blocked. I am not in reality, I’m in my own world.

Supportive Awareness That Matters

Racism is another area where my awareness is being blown wide open right now. This too is true for many of us. One of the hardest things I’ve had to learn recently is that none of this is new. This is not an escalating problem. This is how it’s been for a very long time, hundreds of years, except now we all have smartphones.

Just like the commenter about the single-use plastic, our fellow human beings are showing us, in real time, what’s up. How it really is, and how it’s been for a long time. Some of us will choose to avert our eyes, and some of us will not. I am firmly in the “will not” column. I will not continue to wear the blinders. Not the ones I put there myself, and not the ones that society put there for me either.

When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.

Every day, I meet a new teacher.

Sometimes they hold a mirror up to me. They make me look at my own actions.

Sometimes they reveal certain intricacies in the societal structure that I hadn’t noticed.  

I think it was George Carlin who did a bit about supporting the troops. His idea was basically that if all you do is put bumper stickers on your car, or wear a yellow ribbon on your lapel, you really don’t support the troops. Support involves getting down and dirty with it. It means voting for people who will care for our veterans in the right way.

It means taking their PTSD and everything else they’ve got going on, seriously. Supporting the troops means donating to causes that further the healing of our veterans. Or volunteering on weekends at the local vet center. But support is not passive, and our awareness shouldn’t be passive either.

It’s exactly the same with racism. If you’re just sharing hashtags and yelling into the internet, you’re not really supporting victims of racism. You need to do something. Educate yourself. Donate. Volunteer. Vote.

Awareness Is Incremental

Right now each of us is being invited to cultivate more awareness. 

Awareness of the science behind stopping the spread of viruses, and of how we’re not all in the same boat. What it really means to not be in the same boat. 

Aware of how horrifically those with not-white skin are treated and have been for hundreds of years. How our votes, spending habits, our perspectives, and societal conditioning all keep that system of oppression in place. 

Generally more aware of the blinders. All the ways we tune out, purposefully or not. The ways that, if we’re being honest, we don’t support the cause. We are not there, present and accounted for. The ways we perpetuate the hurt of others, through lack of awareness in ourselves.

Meaningful Work Ahead

I know I’m not perfect. I have a long way to go. So many of us do. I know that one reason this is bothering me so much, the blatant racism and utter hate that I see, is because I’ve had glimpses of it on multiple levels. I’ve always known racism is ugly. It has a palpable feel to it. Institutionalized racism is baked right into every aspect of the US infrastructure, and it is frightening when you start really seeing it.

One day you’re shopping at Whole Foods, and the next day you learn they use prison labor. Which you may not outwardly have an issue with until you see the numbers on incarcerated African-Americans. Until you learn how once they’re in, even for minor offenses, they often don’t make it out. Once you see how they are systematically oppressed, right from day one.

It’s kind of like the cat puke. You can’t unsee it, and if you just step around it and keep on walking, you’re the asshole.

So I’m not trying for “perfect”… I’m trying for “aware”, “not defensive when called out”, or more simply: “teachable”. I’m aiming to expand my awareness, constantly. To support black lives, and the lives of those who aren’t in my boat, in a meaningful way. In ways that matter to them, not that are convenient for me.

*****

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Meditation Makes You Happier. Here’s How.

This will likely come as no surprise to you, but our minds are all over the place, all the time. It’s something that science has long been aware of and even has a name for: mind-wandering. Mind-wandering is the act of shifting our thinking from whatever is happening now, to certain other self-generated thoughts, ideas, and feelings. All of a sudden we’re taking a trip down memory lane, or wondering how we’ll do in that meeting tomorrow, or what we’ll make for dinner tonight.

In 2010 the research team of Killingsworth and Gilbert looked into this further, and it turns out that our minds wander an incredible 46.9% of the time. This means that almost half of the time we are not focusing on the task at hand, or even mentally present. We are just out there somewhere, wandering. 

Why do we do this?

Our brains are a fascinating network of different regions with specific focuses. For example we have a section of the brain that is tasked with facial recognition, and another for language, one for memories, etc. These parts kick in as required when we are doing a set of tasks. But there is also a pre-set “default network” that kicks in when we’re not doing anything else. Interestingly, research also shows that this default network is actually very efficient to run, which may be why we default to it. It’s like our very own screensaver. 

Neuroscientists started noticing this default network when studying other things… which parts of the brain light up during facial recognition, language recognition, etc. They noticed that when test subjects were not given anything to think about, certain default regions always lit up. So we never go totally “dark”. Our brains are never 100% quiet, just in power-saver mode. About half the time.

Basic default mode – “task-unresponsive” regions

These regions that light up when we’re mind-wandering have been dubbed “task-unresponsive” regions… which is such a funny sciency name, but there it is. The default network is a set of regions that are responsive when you aren’t doing a task. 

Our default network has some incredible features, namely that it is a fast, efficient setup. Within a fraction of a second after completing a task, we’re already off mind-wandering, thinking of other things. Our screensaver comes on a mere nanosecond after we remove our hand from the mouse. We’re thinking about the past, the future, our next meal, about other people, and every time we slip into this place, it’s the same regions of our brain that light up. Our default network is where we go when we’re not in the here and now. 

We’re one of the only species (that we know of) that can wander into the past and the future like we do. There’s no argument that it’s pretty amazing that we can mind-wander, but is it good? 

Does mind-wandering make us feel good?

Killingsworth and Gilbert continued their research by looking at people’s levels of happiness when they were doing tasks and not doing tasks. This simple study involved quick check-ins at various intervals throughout the day. They asked questions like “What are you doing right now?”, “Are you thinking about the task at hand?”, and “Are you feeling happy?” The intent of the questions was to determine people’s level of engagement with their tasks. They found that around 30% of the time, in almost all the activities they are doing, people are mind-wandering. 

What’s more, their research ultimately found that mind-wandering can have a negative impact on a person’s overall happiness. Even when you wander to a pleasant thing like an upcoming holiday or the new friend you made, this kind of wandering merely keeps you steady. Otherwise even neutral mind-wandering, like what to make for dinner, tends toward making us more unhappy.

“The ability to think about what is not happening is a cognitive achievement that comes at an emotional cost. A wandering mind is an unhappy mind.” – Dan Gilbert, researcher

Is there any way to shut this thing off?

What can we do to stop our minds from wandering? If our brain’s default mode is wandering, how do we circumvent that? Turns out meditation holds a lot of answers here. Meditation, an ancient practice of turning attention away from distracting thoughts toward a single point of focus. It is life-changing, and that’s no hyperbole.

Can meditation make us happier? Hedy Kober is a Yale professor who wanted to know if the act of meditating can stop mind-wandering. For her study she used a group of expert meditators with 10,000+ hours of meditation under their belts, and another group of controls… non-meditators. The study was fairly simple: Put everyone in a brain scanner and do three meditations with them. A loving-kindness meditation, a breath meditation, and a “choiceless awareness” meditation in which participants simply note the thoughts that come and go, with no judgment. 

What happened to default network activation in each of these groups? The meditators, it turns out, use their default networks a whole lot less during meditation… they can actually override their default network and hold their focus on the present. 

The research showed something else that was really cool: The brains of regular meditators seem more connected, the regions seem to communicate. The data showed other regions purposely shutting down the default network in order to re-route the attention to them. 

As if all of that isn’t exciting and interesting enough, Professor Kober’s research confirmed that this connection, this ability to re-route focus, is happening all the time in people who regularly meditate. With a simple, easy meditation practice of a few minutes daily, we are literally re-wiring our default pattern to be more focused on the here and now. 

Can meditation actually lead to a happier you? 

You’re learning how to meditate. It’s an uphill battle, but you’re doing it because you’ve heard it’s worth it. Will you eventually report higher happiness? Research says yes. In fact in just 8 weeks, you’re already getting a big boost. With a regular daily practice, new happiness is almost guaranteed to be found. In a 2008 study by Fredrickson et al, non-meditators reported the same level of happiness in week 1 as in week 8, while new meditators reported more and more happiness with each week that went by. 

Research has also confirmed that meditation builds brain tissue, just like lifting weights builds muscle. In 2001, Holzel et al studied the gray matter of people who meditated for 30 minutes across an 8 week period. Across the board, meditators experienced a great boost in actual physical brain matter. You’re literally changing and strengthening your brain with meditation! Expect cognitive and physical performance boosts too. 

Meditation can build social connections too 

Loving-kindness meditation increases feelings of social closeness among strangers. In this experiment, researchers showed their subjects photos of strangers. They asked questions like “How close do you think you’d like to be to this person?” “Would you want to be this person’s friend?” Subjects then did a loving-kindness meditation for one of the strangers they weren’t fond of, and something incredible happened: The subjects rated their feelings of closeness toward that stranger quite a bit higher than before the meditation. Turns out the meditation increased warm fuzzies for everyone too, not just the person they did the meditation for. 

What about when subjects already liked the target stranger? There was a huge boost in how they perceive the person after the meditation. This implies that we’ll just keep feeling more and more love for our fellow man, as we practice more and more. We’ll even end up feeling kindness for the ones we don’t really like. All we have to do is do it.

Getting started is easy

Finding the quiet confidence needed to focus in any direction you choose, is the right kind of mind control! Becoming familiar with the default network you’re currently operating on, and then specifically tailoring it to vibe at the frequency you desire, is a pretty cool trick. 

There are so many wonderful online resources for meditation. A quick Google search should give you everything you need to get going. Whether you choose a loving-kindness meditation, breathwork, guided visualization, or any other, the method seems to be of little importance. 

It’s the act of keeping control of your mind, gently bringing your focus back to the present, that’s the ultimate key to promoting happiness. 

*****

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4 Ways Your Brain Is Sabotaging Your Happiness, And How To Stop It

Mostly, your happiness is under your control. In fact, only about 30% of your disposition is “inherited”, thought to be “unchangeable”. The rest is environmental factors and your own self-talk. So, if you think that part of you is just a Gloomy Gus no matter what, you may be right. But if you think you were just born miserable and that’s all there is to that, think again. 

Happiness: An Inside Job

A lot of your happiness has to do with the quality of the food you eat, the nature of your thoughts, the people you choose to surround you in life, and the way you spend your time and energy each day. But in some ways our brain, our motherboard, is wired to make us miserable. Comparing our lives against others, thinking that more stuff will make us happy, these are “features” that are built right into the circuity of our brains. Maybe the most annoying thing of all is that we don’t innately realize these things… we just think “the heart wants what it wants”. But it’s important to look out for these 4 things because they are important factors if you truly want to become happier. 

#1 We Don’t Want What We Think We Want

It’s Monday again, somehow, and as we grudgingly make our way to the office, we’re thinking if we could just make more money… or buy that new car… or get the latest iPhone, we’ll be happier. But that’s just not true most of the time. Why “most of the time”? Well, if you are not making enough money to survive, earning more money will indeed make you happier. But your happiness with that extra cash will level off surprisingly quickly once all your basic needs are met. 

To have “enough” really is enough… but we don’t ever seem to see it that way. We’re always striving for what we think we want, but our intuitions about what will make us happy are almost always wrong. 

For Happiness, Know Thyself

True, the new car or the latest gadget will make us happier in the short term, but we return to baseline pretty quickly. With rare exception, we think this thing is going to make us much happier than it actually does. 

We’re poor judges of what makes us happy, and it turns out we’re poor judges of what makes us sad too. This poor intuition of ours plays out in big and small ways all the time… it’s not just cars and electronics. Ask a college student how bad they will feel a week from now if they receive a poor grade today, and they may tell you they’ll be miserable. A week from now, life will still suck if they get a D in Biology today. But the truth is, they’ll get over it pretty quickly. We always get over it pretty quickly, whether the thing is good or bad.

Of course, it’s never a great thing when you don’t do as well as you hoped… but it’s not as bad as you think it is, either. 

A lot like that little red sports car isn’t as good as you think it is.

#2 Baseline Is Boring

Ultimately we don’t really know what we want, but we also get used to what we do have very quickly. The fancy stuff becomes run of the mill, and soon we want newer, fancier stuff. We’re always striving, but appreciating what we have does not come naturally to us. This is something that must be done consciously. If left to its own devices, our brain will always tell us we need more, new, better stuff. The marketing and advertising industries do everything possible to capitalize on this, to further your brain’s agenda. So does the media. And social media. Just about anything that wants your money, does what it can to capitalize on this inherent weakness of yours… that you bore easily. 

#3 Happiness is All Relative

Unfortunately, because we get used to things so fast, our baseline for happiness and what is acceptable is constantly changing. This annoying aspect of how our brains work doesn’t have a baseline for anything, actually… it’s all relative to what’s happening around us. 

What does this mean exactly? If you come home one day with a really great new car that I happen to believe is nicer than mine, statistically I’m more likely to buy a new car within the next year. Even if I can’t afford one, and don’t need one. (study: Kuhn, et al. 2011)

To Spite Our Face

What’s fascinating about this, is that we’ll even work to our own detriment just to one-up someone else. Solnick & Hemenway did a study that offered subjects two different options: $50,000 or $100,000. If the subject chose the $50,000, everyone else would receive $25,000 just for playing. But if the subject chose the $100,000, everyone else would receive $250,000 instead. Participants overwhelmingly chose the $50,000 so they’d be top dog in their own mind… even though they could have pocketed twice as much cash. (study: Solnick & Hemenway, 1998) Relatively speaking they had to be on top of everyone else, even if it cost them fifty grand to claim the spot. 

Similarly, as you might expect, our idea of a good salary isn’t based on any meaningful data such as the true cost of living, or what we really need to survive. Instead, it’s based on what we used to make at a different job, and also what Steve in Accounting makes. 

The bottom line is that we care a lot about where we stand, relative to other people. And we’re always working to maintain some kind of arbitrary “place”. But those reference points almost never hold real value in our actual lives, and don’t matter to anyone but ourselves.

I think about this quite a bit, with regard to everyday life. Our inability to stay in our own lane is the source of much sadness and strife in our individual worlds. What would our existence, collective and individual, look like if we each sat up and took notice of this?

#4 We Don’t Even Realize We’re Doing This

Bummer. We may be able to notice other people shooting themselves in the foot, or we can see in hindsight how a different action on our part could have yielded a different (perhaps better) outcome, but it’s very hard to catch ourselves in the act of actively disrupting our own happiness. Though we do it all the time.

I think one of the most important steps we can take toward building a happier “us”, is to pay heed to this one thing: We are wired with a kind of cognitive dissonance toward our own behavior: we don’t even realize what we are doing.

  • A week ago our world was coming to an end because of a D in Biology but now we’re out laughing it up and having burgers with friends. So dramatic!
  • We don’t recall how we swooned at the last iPhone, had to have it, and that we were over it within a month.
  • Our snarky comment in that meeting was really a strange attempt to stab at poor Steve in Accounting, because we heard he got a bigger raise than us. But we fail to see it.

Anti-Social Media

Social media is unfortunately a huge trigger for a lot of people. We look at photos of these people’s lives, Beyonce and our neighbor alike, and we paint a picture in our minds. We take those arbitrary reference points in our head and spin a “happiness story” about these people. But none of it is real. 

We try to rank ourselves somewhere in there, and though it’s not possible to do that, this is just another way we’re wired. We’re always making downward or upward comparisons. Subconsciously perhaps, though quite obviously, we rank ourselves against the people we scroll past. Some we look down upon, and some we look up to for some reason. Reality of course looks nothing like it does in our head… but we need to be wise enough to know that and stop the thoughts. Log off Facebook for a little bit and just live our lives, free of comparison.

Happiness, true contentment, is mostly an inside job. It’s largely within our control but also the kind of thing we need to make a conscious effort at. There are many forces working against our happiness, a surprising number of which are right in our own head. By simply knowing that this is how we’re all wired, then taking steps to actively counteract that in ourselves, we can make great strides toward meaningful happiness.

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Happiness Hack: Savor The Flavor

It’s so easy to get ahead of ourselves, isn’t it? Meetings all day, too much traffic, extracurricular activities for the kiddos, homework, and everything else has us go-go-going constantly. We’re over scheduled, pulled in too many directions, and this may come as no surprise to you at all but it’s not making us any happier. 

We all want to be happy. It’s not in anyone’s plan (well, most anyone’s plan… ;)) to be miserable. That’s why we always try for the promotion, buy the car we want, or have that second glass of wine. We’re always looking for ways to be happier in life, but it’s becoming apparent as more research is done in this area, that we go about it in the wrong ways. We think a better job, nicer car, or a little more wine will make us happy, and it does… in the short term. But ultimately we’re barking up the wrong tree. What we really need is more basic in many ways. For example, to just savor all the goodness we already have in our lives. Turns out if we look closely, there’s a lot of goodness. And when we recognize the goodness, we appreciate it. Here are 5 ways to savor life around you, starting right now.

Savor Your Food

Breakfast, lunch, snacks, drinks… there is so much to enjoy where sustenance is concerned. Look at the colors on your plate. Take a moment to acknowledge the fuel that this food will provide to your body. Notice the qualities of the meal that are the most important to you. If you’re eating a salad, perhaps the freshness or the solid nutrition are the most striking about the plate in front of you. Maybe you’re eating a double-size slice of carrot cake because cream cheese frosting is life. Recognize that life before you, savor every morsel of it. 

Savor A Stroll

It doesn’t have to be a meal that you savor… anything in life is savorable. What about that walk you take after dinner? You could turn that into quite a feast for the senses. Smell the smells, feel the sun on your shoulders, the wind in your hair. How does the ground feel beneath your feet? Could you take your shoes off and squish your tootsies into some grass, or sand?

Savor Nothing At All

Do you feel like you’ve always got to be doing something? Either you’re working, or you’re cooking, or you’re cleaning, or you’re Netflixing… there’s always an “ing”. What happens if you do no-thing? Stare at a wall. Listen to the birds, the whir of your refrigerator, the sound of your breath. Feel the air pass between your toes. Unclench your jaw. Ask yourself what you’d like to do next. Listen closely for the answer.

Savor The Sunset

Is there any more perfect end to an afternoon than a gorgeous sunset? Never the same thing twice, when Mother Nature feels like putting on a show, it’s always impressive. Whether you live in a place that’s famous for the sunsets or it’s more of a special treat, the next time it’s time to call it a day, stop and look west. Notice the colors, the clouds, and how the light looks different at sunset than it does at other times of the day. Drink it all in, and look forward to another one soon.

Savor A Melody

Few things can change our perspective quicker than music. Whether it’s a favorite song from way back in the day, or the latest hip hop tune on your workout playlist, music has the power to transform our mood and transport us to a whole other place. So savor the heck out of it! Dance like no one’s watching, if that’s what your heart says. Put in some headphones and turn it up to 11. Knock back some liquid courage and hit the stage at karaoke. However you like to experience your music, don’t just listen to it… really get into it. Savor every note.  

No matter what we’re doing, when we can choose to savor the moment, it becomes a tool for gratitude and a mechanism of happiness. When we consciously get into the moment… really savor it with all of our senses… the gratitude we feel can’t help but grow. The more we can keep ourselves in the moment – savoring the moment – the more present we will remain. That’s where the real goodness lives, in what’s happening right now.

Try this: Consciously savor one thing every day, and make a note of it before you go to sleep each night. Just keep it on your phone, or a piece of paper by your bed. Nothing fancy, the easier the better. Do it for a week and see how things shift for you.

*****

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Corona Coaster

I’m awake and it’s early, about 5:30am. The sun isn’t up yet but my dog is, so we snuggle in for an hour or so until it’s light enough to go for a walk. During this time my thoughts bounce from scary thing to scary thing… the pandemic we’re all facing, and all the unknown it brings with it… Will I have enough work in the coming months? Will I end up too sick to care? What about the people who have it much worse than me? The ones who have to go to work each day else they’ll lose their job, and what little stability they have. How will they be affected by this, and how will we all be affected by their inability to stay at home? Why don’t government officials seem to care, on either side of our border? Why are good luck charms a thing to lean on right now, Mr. President? Why do your ratings matter to you right now, Mr. President? This pandemic seems to have me feeling like I’m taking crazy pills, and the anger builds. With a heavy sigh, Ruby stirs next to me, grumbling that I’ve woken her with my own heavy sigh. I squeeze her tight and paste a smile on my face in the morning light. This is no way to start a day. I shake it off and take her for an extra-long walk.

Pandemic Analysis Paralysis

I can’t decide whether to go for a run. Some days it’s a harder decision than other days, whether to leave the house. You never know what’s going to happen these days. But I am able to talk myself into it, and soon find myself feeling a little more normal as I trot down the sidewalk, electronic music bumping in my ears. Several yards in front of me I notice a portly little dog leaning against a building, with a thousand-yard stare toward the ocean. Sitting “side-saddle” on her right hip, cute as can be in her pink collar, I immediately sense that she’s been abandoned and that she knows it too. That’s the look of “what am I supposed to do now?” I run past her and glance around to see if maybe her owner is near, but of course, they aren’t. At the end of the block, I double back and see a local woman approaching the little dog with some water. I know Irma, I’m pleased that she was there to help. I continue on my run but waves of emotion are hitting me one after another. Sadness for that poor dog, anger at people who abandon their animals, fear of what’s coming… that there is so much more coming… 

Big Emotions

There I am, knee-deep in a 4-mile run, having to stop because I can’t run and cry at the same time. I can’t catch my breath so now I’m panicking a little too, and all the while there’s a dance party thump thump thumping in my brain. I’m at a great place to just throw in the towel but I know I need the mood boost so I decide to finish my run. I do feel better by the time I get down to the Tile Park. The bright mosaics always make me happy, and since the city has been pressure washing everything, they gleam now. I sprint from one end of the park to the other, weaving in and out of shiny mosaic columns, and I’m glad I stuck with it. I feel great. And lucky that I can move my body, lucky to breathe so well. Thanks, body. I appreciate you.

I’ve been writing all morning and am starting to feel hungry, but as the thought is entering my brain I remember that I have no yogurt or almond milk to have with my granola. The dark pandemic cloud of “do you feel lucky, punk?” comes over me once again as I decide whether to risk my life with a trip to the local quickie mart. It takes some doing but I’m able to apply a bit of logic and form a plan, which helps calm me down. I’ll go, grab the almond milk right by the front door, take this 50 peso bill out of my pocket, hand it to them, and walk out. Go quickly and don’t touch anything, wash hands in boiling water for 20 seconds, et voila. Breakfast is served. Easy peasy.

Anger, Sadness, Uncertainty, Even Grief

On the way there I mentally chastise myself for even buying almond milk. The environmental impact is heavy, unnecessarily so, so why do I insist on contributing to the problem and risking my life for it too? That’s pretty dumb. Especially during a pandemic. Why are we so wasteful as a species? Why don’t we have any respect for our environment? I feel angry again. I get there and the manager is in, who I rarely get to see. He likes to practice his English on me so we chat a little. I’m deviating from the plan, and it’s making my anxiety rise. But he’s my friend, and he says he’s glad to see me. Not a lot of people are coming in these days but he’s so grateful he has a job when so many don’t. I feel a wave of gratitude wash over me. I too am so lucky that I still have work. As a writer, I can work from almost anywhere. With a minimum amount of expenses, I can make it in pretty lean times if need be. Though a lot of things are unknown, I’m traveling about as light as a person can. I recognize this as a gift and I feel humbled. Glad to spend these few moments talking with my friend. 

I ask him if he has any yogurt, and he does, but it’s Yoplait. There in front of the cold case, staring at the sugar-rich options, all I’m really jonesing for is some Fage Greek yogurt. I buy the fruit-in-the-bottom Yoplait. Strawberry. I cry all way home because I’m so lucky really, and because I deviated from the plan which was stupid, and because I fucking hate Yoplait.

An Unprecedented Pandemic

That was Monday, March 348th 2020, all before noon. In spite of the fact that I pretty much just sit around all the time lately, I’m constantly on a ride that I really wish I could get off of. We all are, to some degree. This pandemic we are experiencing is unprecedented. It is like nothing any of us have ever encountered before, and it’s throwing us all for a loop. There’s an explanation for it, in fact there are billions of them, if we take each of our personal perspectives into account. 

Our limbic system supports a variety of basic functions in our bodies like emotion, behavior, motivation, and memory. This is where our emotional life is contained, and where our memories are formed. It’s involved in the basic emotional processing of input and has a big hand in the fight or flight response. When something bizarre happens, like a pandemic where the entire world has to shut down and no one is allowed to talk to anyone anymore because we might die if we do, each of our limbic systems scan for evidence of something like this from our past. A way to react. But none of us have any memory of something like this, because we’ve never experienced it, so our limbic system just blows a big fat raspberry and leaves us to fend for ourselves. 

Fight, flight, or freeze… at an emotional level we start cycling through these basic options. Anger has worked in the past for a lot of stuff, but hmmm… maybe anxiety would be the right choice here? Oh! What about sadness… depression… some old standbys… that’s the ticket.

It’s OK To Not Be OK

Mood swings are normal for times like these, because none of these responses are really the right answer. Emotional responses that seem irregular or out of proportion are also pretty normal. Changes in opinions and feelings from hour to hour are all par for the course right now. Again, because we just don’t know what to do with a pandemic. So we try it all.

It’s not any fun to feel this way but it’s important to remember that we’re not wrong in the way we feel. We just don’t really know what to do right now, on a very basic level. Caveman level.

We’re all in this together and I think one of the best things we can do is give ourselves, and each other, the freedom to feel the feels. Make sense of them on our own terms. We’re all coming at this from our own perspective, and with the tools we have at our disposal right now. Those look different for everyone, so one of the best things we can do is just be mindful of that. Sometimes there isn’t much to do in a heavy storm but hang on tight.

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