Human nature is remarkably simple when you realize that feeling comes first. Therein lies the secret. Take covid.
Relative to covid – and all things – Homo sapiens live in three places.
- Homo sapiens look back to: Facts to see-think: 800,000 deaths in the US. Untold suffering and loss. Disruption. Here’s the simple part of looking back: Feeling(s)! For homo sapiens, this look back evokes sadness. You will feel that sadness if you allow it up (past Kubler Ross’ denial, anger, etc.) Intense sadness for those with close familial ties. Sadness for all.
- Homo sapiens look forward to: Facts to expect, e.g., Omicron is spreading with incredible speed. I am likely to get it (I’m on 2 plane rides on Sunday, intimately close with 10s if not 100s of my fellow, masked homo sapiens). Here’s the simple part of looking forward: Feelings(s): Fear!!!! Need I say more?
- Homo sapiens feel this instant: I can feel breath through my nostrils. I am alive. I can easily depart this instant and go to past sadness or future fear.* Or, I can stay here. Do it with me, if you dare: With this breath in, through my nostrils, in my expanding chest. I feel. I can in the next instant, hold that breath, and savor that feeling of full lungs. “I am alive.” In the next instant I can feel that breath go out. Now, I get to do it again!
The secret is hidden in our midst. Every second an opportunity to breathe in life – oxygen! Gift of the trees that were in turn gifted by the sun, water, and earth. Every instant each of us is alive – apart from and a part of – this miracle ecosystem. How does that make you FEEL?
Every second an opportunity to savor. And every second second: an opportunity to give your breath back to life.
Breathe in: Learning, kindness, the smell of good food, even obstacles that challenge and strengthen you, even losses that help you savor this gift you have in this instant.
Breathe out: You!
Your attention to others. Your insights. Your gratitude.Sometimes your deep sadness, in huffing cry-out. Sometimes in an inbreath gasp in of fear as you look ahead.
And then come back – a new breath now, a holding for an instant to savor, an outbreath to give to others. Literally breathing oxygen back to those trees and plants that fed you (and to release the poison carbon dioxide your body needs to let go of – just as your spirit needs to release the fear and the sadness – about past and present).
Make no doubt: we are in – and facing another round of – a plague, a pandemic. It creates great sadness and fear – as we look back and forward. We can trap most of our germs behind our masks, but we share our spiritual outbreath. Will you accelerate the spread of sadness and fear? Or, will you choose to be present to receive love and to learn, to give love and to teach?
So, here we are again: one more holiday season when we can frantically shop, move to escape our sadness and fear, or just be present to the amazing gift of life, here and now,
Leading with our best self.
*I am NOT saying “avoid fear and sadness.” Quite the contrary. When real sadness or fear arises in this moment, it’s best to feel them here and now. My lived experience coincides with what I’ve read from people smarter and better researched than I is that feeling the feeling allows your body and mind to work through it. Sometimes – especially with some of us – we can just “let it go” mentally. Others of us – and probably all of us at some times – have to feel it. Cry. Fall to the floor. Run and yell out the pain. It’s when we never let the emotions live in our body/feelings that they infect us and others. But the secret is the present.
Plenty to think about here, Dan – for me linked to having started to study both yoga and tai chi (over Zoom in both cases but in real time) with instructors who both emphasize breathing. I hope your Christmas is a joyful one!
Thanks Dan truly a great reminder of feeling particularly during the Holiday season. Happy Holidays and Thanks again
Thanks, David. Happy holidays to you as well.