With the events of this global pandemic unfolding, I wanted to share with you some useful tips and practices on how to maintain good mental health as the crisis and lockdown conditions continue.
This includes a simple and easy to follow Meditation, practising Gratitude, How to embrace Love when fear takes over, the power of associating and dissociating, and questioning our own thoughts.
I also discuss why I have made a massive price drop to my online meditation training program Deep Relaxation Meditation and how I want to offer this free of charge to all the first response emergency workers, medical staff and those who are working through overwhelming conditions to keep us safe. If you are one of these people and would like to help me get this program into your workplace, please reach out and contact me here.
32 minutes 31 seconds
Managing stress and anxiety during a crisis.
Video Chapter Timecodes:
(*using the following timecode links will open the video within YouTube)
00:00 - Introduction
00:41 - The veil of reality
01:55 - Fear of the unknown
05:08 - Love meditation
09:00 - The language of what you want
11:03 - Questioning thoughts
12:06 - The power of gratitude
14:16 - How to practice gratitude
15:23 - Gratitude for the negative
17:05 - Who will you be?
19:16 - No excuse for boredom
19:28 - The illusion of certainty
21:18 - The world is changing
22:02 - Be like water
22:33 - Associate dissociate
24:43 - Howto associate completely
25:18 - The power to dissociate
26:33 - How to dissociate
27:50 - The importance of meditation & mindfulness
28:36 - Deep Relaxation Meditation program
29:13 - My gift
30:10 - A request for help
30:24 - Find the fun
30:58 - It's all about perspective
31:42 - Reach out
To learn more about my Deep Relaxation Meditation online program and easily learn how to meditate, follow this link: https://EmpoweringMeditations.com/DRM
Hi, I’m James Cole and this is Empowering Thoughts.
In this video, I’ll cover some thought processes and practices that I’m doing to maintain a positive outlook, sound mental health and survive these confronting times. This will be a bit of a longer video than normal so I’ll put timecodes in the description if you want to come back and skip to specific points. So here is my mental health guide to surviving the current events.
The Veil of Reality
“The veil of reality is so fragile. When we hold on so tightly to its projection, the slightest disruption that occurs causes immense struggle. Let go of rigidity and accept that reality is fluid, constantly changing; ebbing and flowing with the currents of thought.”
These are indeed interesting times.
I’ve avoided addressing the issue at large as I haven’t wanted to add to its energy. However, I can now see that it isn’t going away any time soon and we need to adapt as we come to terms with this new world that is being created.
It’s not my place to speculate on what’s happening in the world. I feel that without absolute knowledge, it would be wrong for me to share thoughts and ideas on possible outcomes that may or may not end up being right. So for this video, I’m going to focus only on what each of us can do to navigate the path which has been laid out in front of us, in the healthiest ways that I know and use myself.
Fear of the Unknown
With any situation like this, one of the biggest issues to confront, is the unknown, or more to the point, FEAR of the unknown. Fear is an absolutely justified response, especially when we don’t really know what’s going on. Fear is part of the fight or flight response which is designed to keep us safe. And when faced with such uncertainty, our fear response can go into overdrive.
As justified as it may be, there are consequences to fear. First, our ability to think rationally is severely limited. If you think back to our primal days, fear was there for one reason, to get us out of trouble and fast. Usually by running away or fighting through. Either way, the need to think of anything else in these moments is non-existent. If we stopped to rationalise why the bear was running at us, we’d be eaten before we could even think the thought. In this scenario, fear helps us to run faster than we thought we could, to get away.
Later, around the campfire, we could laugh about it with our friends while rationally thinking, “oh the bear was scared because she had defenceless cubs nearby.”
In the modern world, we don’t need to deal with bears so much, but our fear response is still stuck in the primal way of life. We are seeing this play out today with all the panic buying that’s going on around the world. Somebody somewhere said that “Toilet paper was made in China and we’re going to run out because none of the stock is getting delivered.”
This seemingly harmless comment threw the world into survival mode and rational thinking was out the window. As soon as it began, it was inevitable that the panic buying would spread to other products as so many of us lost faith in the supply network with thoughts like “They couldn’t meet the needs for toilet paper so we better stock up on everything just in case that fails too.” and down the spiral we crashed.
If rational thinking was in place we would have stopped, checked packaging and realised that the majority of toilet paper is actually made locally and wouldn’t be affected by any issues with imports.
As I wrote in my book, Empowering Thoughts, “The empowered person knows the more they feel the less they think.“
“The empowered person knows the more they feel the less they think.“
Now is there any feeling more potent than fear?
Actually, there is.
And I know for many of you this will sound like hippie new-age nonsense but stick with me.
The opposite of fear is love.
Whenever you feel fear rising within, Take a moment to ponder these questions and do this little meditation.
- What do you love?
- Who do you love?
- Where does love sit within you?
- How does love feel to you?
- If love had a colour what would it be?
- If love had a vibration how would it feel?
Now close your eyes for just a moment and focus on your answers.
Allow that love to grow inside
Allow it to fill every part of you and to encompass you completely.
And now allow that love to reach out and connect with that thing or that person that you love the most.
And fill it with light until all there is, is love.
And while you’re feeling this way, imagine carrying this feeling with you into your tasks for the day.
And imagine carrying it with you into all you have to do for the coming week.
And imagine holding it inside you as you walk forward into the unknown.
And come back to now, eyes open and holding onto that feeling of love.
And I’m sure that you feel better, don’t you?
When practising this you’ll find there is no room for other feelings, allowing you the space required to think things through rationally and with greater perspective once again.
The Language of What You WANT
Next is an exercise in language and thought.
It’s about focusing on what you want, not what you don’t want!
This isn’t just for what we’re facing now but is something that will help you in every aspect of life.
It is natural for us to focus on what we don’t want. I’m not sure of the ancestral reasons for this and it’s something I’ll research more in the future. Whatever the reason for it, it’s something we are all guilty of.
I’m sure in recent times, you’ve heard or even used, phrases like this…
“This is a global disaster”
“I don’t wanna get sick”
“I’m scared of what’s going on”
Whenever we say things like this, we are focusing on the negative, even though the statement is most likely true. By focusing on the negative, we are keeping it forefront and strong in the front of our mind. Giving it the energy to transform into conditions like stress, anxiety and fear.
If we become our own thought police and develop an awareness of all the negative focus we are conducting, we can then make a conscious decision to change it.
Instead of saying “This is a global disaster” we could change it to “The world is changing”
Instead of saying “I don’t wanna get sick” we could use “I want to stay healthy”
Instead of saying “I’m scared of what’s going on” which is essentially a fear of the unknown, we could say “I’m curious to learn what’s going on”
When thoughts are forming, take a breath and give yourself a moment to ask these questions,
What is the purpose of this thought?
What energy is it feeding?
What do I really want instead?
How can I make this a positive focus?
Write these questions down and keep them handy so you have them to remember when you need them most.
Simply by changing the language we use around a subject, both internally and outwardly, we can change our perspective on it. The more it is practised, the better we become.
The Power of Gratitude
The one thing I hear so many spiritual types harping on about is gratitude gratitude gratitude! Write in your gratitude journal every day and all will be good.
To be honest, I’ve never been into journaling and the thought of writing in a gratitude journal daily makes me cringe. It seems totally inauthentic for me yet I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve been told that writing one will make everything better.
As much as the journalling doesn’t work for me, the idea behind it does. Gratitude is an incredibly powerful and positive state of being that can override almost anything else you are feeling.
If journaling works for you then do that. If not, find another way to be grateful. And most importantly, feel grateful.
For me, it’s about being grateful in the moment at all times. When somebody does something to help me, I feel gratitude and I thank them with absolute sincerity. If I see something I like, such as a butterfly, I allow myself to feel grateful in the moment for seeing it. When I gaze upon the full moon, I feel overwhelmed with gratitude for being struck with such awe. When I drive to the shops, I feel gratitude for not having to walk. And when I feel the cold nose of my dog Saffy nudge my arm when I’m trying to write, I feel so much gratitude that we get to share this journey together.
Find gratitude in all the little aspects of your life. Whatever your circumstance, there is something to be grateful for.
How to Practice Gratitude
If you’ve never done this before, start by making a list of ten things you are grateful for. Force yourself to come up with ten and don’t stop until you have all of them. You may stall after two or three but push through. This is the time that you are reprogramming your brain to become aware of things to be grateful for. They don’t have to be giant things either. Even if it’s something small like, I’m grateful I can breathe clearly, or I’m grateful that I still have all my hair when some of us don’t…
Once you adopt this practice into your life, either by journaling, being grateful in the moment like me, or some other way, you’ll be amazed at what a positive effect it will have on you.
If you have other ways to practice gratitude, I’d love to hear them in the comments.
Gratitude for the Negative
Now once you’ve got this practice of gratitude on the way, we can take it to a much higher level. We can be grateful for what we perceive to be negative aspects and events in our lives. For it is these that lead to greater learning, understanding and wisdom.
So let’s all do this little exercise together right now.
Think of the events that are happening in the world and how they affect you negatively.
Now write down three things to come from it that you can be grateful for.
Pause the video until you’ve done it.
So what did you come up with? I’d love it if you would share your gratitude in the comments so we can all read the many things to be grateful for. I’m sure there will be plenty that many of us would never think of.
For me, I am grateful for the current events because they are giving the Earth time to heal while we aren’t polluting as much, I am grateful for the extra time I now have to share my knowledge with you and I am grateful for always having an incredibly strong immune system that I have built up throughout my life.
Who Will You Be?
Over the coming days, weeks and months, we all have some big decisions to make. One of the biggest is what kind of person are we going to be in this situation?
If we isolated in our homes or wherever, voluntarily or otherwise, what are we going to do?
Are we going to act selfishly or take advantage of peoples fears and situation for our own gain?
Are we going to be the kind of person who feeds ourselves all the negative news and media stories, and overthinks and over analyses everything feeding panic, stress and anxiety?
Are we going to numb ourselves with drugs or alcohol to try and ride out the events in ignorance doing untold damage to our bodies and possibly those around us?
Are we going to see this as an opportunity and make something productive and meaningful out of it?
The choice is each of ours to make and of course, there are many more options than these examples.
Just know that the person you are is a choice and it can be changed at any time.
I know what my choice is. To use this time to create content to help others, to help you. To spend time learning new things, and if the power goes off I have pens and paper to continue writing and creating and many books that I’m excited to read. There will be much time for extra meditation and opportunities to work through my own emotional stuff. Whatever is thrown at me, I know I’ll be a better person because of it and I hope you choose to make the most of your time too.
No Excuse for Boredom
"We live in an infinite Universe of which we know almost nothing about. There is never an excuse for boredom."
The Illusion of Certainty
Now I want to talk about certainty and the need that so many of us have for it.
I remember when I was in college learning about life coaching, we were taught about the Anthony Robbins core needs, one of which is the scale between the need for certainty and variety. At the time, and probably still today, my need for variety far outweighs my need for certainty. One of the reasons for this is that I simply don’t believe certainty exists in any form other than an illusion.
We have the illusion that things are certain but in reality, they are not. We live in a volatile Universe of which we know very little. We like to think we know a lot but every time science unlocks a puzzle, ten more present themselves.
The Sun could rise tomorrow, it probably will, but are we absolutely certain of it? Only someone who doesn’t understand the larger nature of the Universe would say yes.
Of course, if it doesn’t rise tomorrow, making this video is kinda pointless.
I think hope is a better word than certainty as the only thing that is certain is that everything changes. And if I wanted to get into an even deeper philosophical debate, I’d question if that is actually certain but that’s a topic for another day.
The reason why I’m talking about this is that those of us who are fluid to change will handle the current events the best. Those who are rigid and set in their ways are going to find the coming months and years ahead very uncomfortable.
The World is Changing
The world is changing. Evolving into something else. Something different from the world in which we have lived until now. If you’re old enough, you’ve already lived through one or two of these world-changing events. The one thing our politicians are promising, that once we are through this we can go back to normal, is the one thing that absolutely will not happen. Of course, I can’t be certain of that 😉
The world will be different on the other side of this event and that is okay. We will adapt, we will learn, and we will evolve. As a species, we will be better because of it.
I am reminded of a quote from the legendary Bruce Lee
“Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless - like water. Now you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup; You put water into a bottle it becomes the bottle; You put it in a teapot it becomes the teapot. Now water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friends, be water.”
I want to give you one more tool to help you in these times or any time really.
It is the power to associate or dissociate completely.
When we are completely associated within our own self, we are completely in the moment. There is little to no awareness of thoughts and what has been and what will become are irrelevant. Another word we use for this is being mindful.
At the other end of the scale is to be dissociated. This is when it is as if we are separated from the events and experiences we are having as if we are watching from some higher platform. When we are in this state, we can observe our actions and reactions, our thoughts and emotions, without really experiencing them or judging them. This is a great skill to have if we have to go through something we don’t like.
For most of us most of the time, we sit somewhere in the middle. We are associated into what we are doing but also there is an element of distance that allows us to think and analyse. If we were to stay at one of these extremes all the time, it would be greatly detrimental to our wellbeing. Living in the moment all the time would result in us having no forward-thinking or ability to plan for the future, we would simply exist. Being dissociated all the time gives us no connection or emotional experience. Yet when used as tools that can be turned on or off at will, both extremes of this scale can be incredibly useful to help us deal with a variety of situations. And practising both can strengthen our mind and build our resilience significantly.
Howto Associate Completely
To practise being completely associated, when you are doing something, be so involved and so attentive, that the rest of the world seems to disappear. This is essentially what being mindful is and it can be practised with anything we do. Simply get rid of distractions, turn off any devices that may hold even a little bit of attention and just commit to doing with all your heart whatever it is you are doing.
The Power to Dissociate
Becoming dissociated takes a little more effort.
When I was 11, being the curious child that I was, I wondered where the bubbles came from when water boiled. So one morning, the curiosity got the better of me and I stood on tippy toes to look in the kettle to try and figure it out. Moments later, I stumbled backwards pulling the kettle and the boiling water all over me. It was so hot that my pyjama top melted to my chest and arm and when I ripped it off, well, I’m sure you can imagine or possibly don’t want to. Horribly scolded and burned, the next few months being in and out of hospital, taught me a very valuable lesson. How to dissociate. In this case, from pain.
It’s a skill that can be looked at negatively as it is considered a trait of sociopaths. However, when mastered as a skill that can be turned on and off at will, it can get us through some truly horrible experiences seemingly unscathed emotionally.
How to Dissociate
The technique is simple yet takes some practice to master. In any given situation, simply imagine yourself floating out of your body and looking down upon yourself and the events that are taking place. I would highly suggest doing this in meditation to start with and until you have truly mastered it, for safety reasons, never do it in situations that require your full attention. Once you are able to imagine looking down on yourself, observe what is happening. Observe the thoughts, emotions and processes that are occurring and flowing. And allow them to be without judgement, censorship or trying to change them. Over time, you’ll become better and stronger at this and you can use it for your mental wellbeing.
I now practice this several times a week in meditation to just allow my emotional being to do what it needs to do to work through anything that has happened in the previous few days without getting caught up in the emotion of things.
The Importance of Meditation & Mindfulness
Hopefully out of all this you can find the tools to help ease your way through these times.
I would also like to add the importance of meditation and mindfulness in times like this. There is so much scientific evidence now that meditation helps reduce stress, anxiety, and helps us to work through emotions. There have also been a number of studies showing that people who meditate regularly have a much stronger immune system. Now I’m not going to state that by meditating you won’t catch anything. However, having a higher immune system could help any effects be considerably less severe.
Deep Relaxation Meditation Program
With this in mind, I want to help as many people as possible to start meditating as a way to help all of us in the best way that I can. For this reason, I’ve dropped the price for my online meditation program Deep Relaxation Meditation, from $97 to just $14.95 in an effort to make it affordable for everyone. At this price, it barely covers the running costs but I really do believe that it is important for all of us to start meditating and gain the benefits.
I also want to do my bit to support those who are supporting us. Those who are always there, on the front lines to pick us back up when we fall. After the recent fires we had here, I’ve already been in touch to get this program into the hands of the CFA, which is the Country Fire Authority here in Victoria with no charge. Now I want to get it in the hands of all front liners, emergency service personnel, and medical workers. It is important, now more than ever, to offer our support to these people who put their lives on the line for our safety. If you work for any of these services and know who I would need to talk to, please drop me a message and together we can make this happen.
A Request for Help
So I’m asking for your help by sharing this video, you can help others learn the tools I’m teaching here and hopefully get the message out to those who need to learn meditation.
Find the Fun
I’ll leave you with this thought. Just because things are serious and dark, doesn’t mean there can’t be fun. There’s a reason why nurses have the darkest humour of anyone I’ve met. If you hear people making dark and twisted jokes about what’s going on, let them have it. More than likely it’s just their way of dealing with it. I know a dark sense of humour has gotten me through tough times in the past.
It's All About Perspective
And remember, perspective is everything.
This is a moment in human history that will shape our future from this moment on. And we get to live through it and observe it first hand. How amazing and exciting is that? It’s all in how we look at it. Every experience we ever have can be a negative or a positive depending on our perspective. Find a way to see the gold.
Wishing you all safe passage through these times. And know that if you are struggling, you are always welcome to reach out to me in the Empowering Thoughts Facebook group or through my website Empowering Meditations.com
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By listening to this audio, you accept all responsibility for its correct use or misuse because this meditation will place you in a deep trance, it’s important that you do not listen to this if you are driving, operating machinery, or doing anything that requires your full attention. If an emergency should arise that requires your attention you can be instantly alert and awake energised and able to deal with whatever is required. Even though this meditation is designed to maximise internal physical, mental and emotional healing, it is not a replacement for professional medical advice and treatment and should be used in conjunction with any treatment or therapy you are receiving.