Watching CNN yesterday morning, coverage focused on the terrorists attacks in Paris. There was commentary, facts, and discussions about how to move forward and what options are available. I caught the beginning of Fareed Zakaria’s GPS show. He provided an overview of what highlights the show will cover and then went into “his take” on the current events. A compelling question he asked, which gave me moment to pause, was “What does ISIS want?” And he respond with his take. The attacks are actions representing a desire to divide. To create fear. And this resonated with me.
When we come from a place of fear, we focus on our differences rather than our similarities. We are unable to dialogue about the facts and our perceptions, as tunnel vision rarely allows this to happen. We cannot think clearly. We react rather than respond. We strike rather than critically determine what is truth and what is a generalization. And of course, this is not a space that allows us to feel safe or secure.
Fear manifests as a stressful space. When we are fearful, our bodies go into flight fight mode and loop into the part of the brain that carries most of our negatively charged experiences. So not only may we experience fear from the current situation, we may loop into past fearful experiences that make our present worse. This becomes a challenging place to get out of the darkness and find light. So in these times, what can you do? How can you restore yourself and find your stillness?
Breathe. It sounds simplistic, I know, yet when we are fearful, defensive, anxious, and panicked, breathing goes into this shallow, fast paced place, aligning with how our mind works (fast, surface thoughts, etc.). When we breathe using the diaphragm, that muscle we don’t often talk about within our chest cavity, we bring in more oxygen to our bodies, and thus, our brains. When we open our chest and diaphragm up, we are actually opening our ability to love and think clearly. We come from an intuitive and wise place.
Do something physical. When we are stressed, panicked, fearful, we accumulate additional toxins in our bodies. These infect how we think, feel, react. By burning off these excess toxins, we can clear the mind to think effectively and clearly about actions we responsibly want to take rather than actions we may regrettably react with.
These are only two ways to challenge how the body interprets a situation and systematically reacts. And it can be with most things, not just something as dark and looming as acts of terrorism. Yet when we can start with the smaller things in our lives, not reacting to the comment a friend made, not reacting to not getting our way one time, this opens up possibilities for change. These are subtle shifts which create massive changes over time. And that may be something worth working for.
And I'm doing that as I send my positive thoughts and words to Paris.
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