“The Chinese character for ‘crisis’ is also the same character for ‘opportunity,’ “explained a *counselor for a community health center. “When our world is shaken up, it is an opportunity for growth and change,” the counselor responded to my quest for how to keep our spirit rich while we watch the world’s economy slip further into the gutter and our battle to keep afoot is like fighting with one leg and one arm.
“Don’t take (these circumstances) personally,” the counselor continued, “even though it affects your life. This (economy) is an indication of a system out of whack, not a reflection of our ability. It is happening to many people.”
It’s happening to so many people, in fact, that my counselor friend confirmed, “Almost every day I’m over booked. Many of these people are not what I would normally see for mental health counseling—they are seemingly healthy men and women who need to talk about the loss of their jobs, how to care for their families, and a good many that have now lost their homes.”
So how do we keep our spirit rich when reduction and deprivation lay siege?
1. Upon waking each morning prior to engaging in conversation or activities take a minimum of 10 minutes in silence (ideally 30 minutes). Connect with your breath; use a mantra ‘mind tool’ to keep bringing your mind back to the breath. A great mantra is SO- HUM. Repeat it silently. Cultivate silence.
2. Set an intention for the day – keep it simple. Example: My intention today is to bring closure to projects, or my intention today is to cultivate harmonious relationships by smiling and listening more.
3. Offer compliments to people, make eye contact, listen without interrupting, and be present when others are speaking to you.
4. Disengage from the computer and television at least an hour prior to going to bed.
6. Connect with nature – dig in the dirt, talk to a flower, appreciate trees, walk bare feet in the grass.
7. Listen to music that inspires you. Dance – sing.
8. Make a list of five things you are grateful for – especially the things you most take for granted like sunshine, good health, freedom.
9. Look in the mirror smile and say, “You are worthy, you are valuable, and you make a difference.” Do this for 28 days to insert new empowering beliefs.
10. Prior to going to sleep while lying in bed recap the day. Begin with the first thing you did that morning moving throughout your day. Notice anything that could prevent you from being joyful and peaceful and see it being released, forgiven, healed and let go. This cultivates ‘witnessing awareness’ which allows you to more conscious choices.
My counselor friend added:
- Spend time every day doing something you love that enriches and nourishes—like walks on the beach, mediation, or playing with a child.
- Volunteer to help others in order to say busy.
- Take an inventory of skills. Instead of listing job and job descriptions, list the skills you have developed and used. (i.e., a housewife: you managed money, organized activities, creatively decorated, were a chef, etc.). Be creative.
- Contemplate what a job means to your self-image, sense of self, sense of being a man or woman. Or are you more than just a job?
- Consider what is important in life. Where does a job fit in?
- Make a list of what is good, positive, important and meaningful, and cultivate gratitude.
- Ask for help. Put aside pride. This could happen to any of us.
- Prioritize what you need to work on in order to get back what you need to live. Food and shelter come first.
- Accept what you cannot change. Worrying about what you cannot change leads to unhappiness and stress. Worrying about what you can change leads to the same.
Personally, laughter and jest help me through. The same for Debi Dreksler, a writer, businesswoman, and entrepreneur, who recently wrote about her frustration with trying to supplement her income during these times. When I asked her what she does to keep her spirit rich she said, “I write and perform comedy to keep my spirit uplifted (higher than my boobies) during these tough economic times. Laughter is ridiculously healthy and doesn’t cost a penny!”
“wei1 ji1” are the two Chinese words represented in the characters for crisis and opportunity. This presents two choices. Losing a job, home and honor creates a crisis. There are times when it all piles on. Another friend who practices family law told me that her business flourishes now because of a poor economy that also rips apart families through divorce.
This is when we must put on the brakes, come to a complete stop, look both ways and make an immediate turn at Opportunity and drive directly to our new home: Rich Spirit.
* I interviewed a licensed social worker who presently practices in California. This person requested anonymity for confidentiality reasons.