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Being with Strong Emotions & Letting Them Go

Please check out this regularly updated post on Coping with The Impact of Covid-19 if you are in need of support.
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Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh on Being with Emotions from The Mindfulness Bell:

“We should not be afraid of our feelings and emotions. Sometimes an emotion can be very powerful, like a storm. It makes us suffer a lot. But we should remember that an emotion is only an emotion. Not more than an emotion. Sometimes we think that we are only our emotion. That is not correct.

…When we observe a tree in a storm, if we focus on the top of the tree, we feel a lack of safety. The tree seems fragile, unable to withstand the storm. But if we focus on the trunk of the tree, we see its firmness. We see that the tree is deeply rooted in the soil and that it will withstand the storm. When we are overwhelmed by strong emotion, we should not focus on the level of the brain or the heart. We have to bring our attention down to the level of the navel. This is our trunk. We know that to stay in the storm is dangerous, so we go down and embrace the trunk. We practice mindful breathing, and focus all our attention on the rise and fall of the abdomen during the storm of strong emotion. Breathe in and out deeply, and nourish your awareness that emotion is something that comes, stays a while, and goes away.”

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For me, the rising and falling of emotions during this storm feels like being by the ocean watching the rising and falling of the waves, the moments of stillness and the moments of turbulence, while staying rooted in my practices of mindfulness, compassion, and joy.

I welcome the various sensations and feelings, allowing them to stay, and asking do you need anything? Offering a gentle touch, resting my hand on my heart and belly, noticing the rising and falling of my chest and belly with my breath. Sometimes, humming or rocking helps or the offering of a kind phrase, Darling, I’m here. I know it hurts. It’s okay. I’m here.

For instructions on a meditation practice that can be helpful for being with difficult emotions, please visit here to learn about RAIN from Meditation teacher Tara Brach.

I find it important to discern the difference between being with emotions as they come and go and holding onto certain emotional states such as fear or despair. A practice I try to do daily is shaking. It helps me to release anything extra, anything that I no longer need to carry, any energy that is stuck or stagnant. Here’s an example of it offered here by Kim Eng.

I also find it helpful to connect with moments of joy and levity as well. For example, listening to a gentle song like the one below brings me ease and helps regulate my nervous system. Engaging in yoga or qigong practice, finding things that make me laugh, or being with forms of virtual connection and joy such as a virtual dance party are all supportive activities that I schedule into my day to help me find balance.

 

What helps you to stay centered and rooted right now? What helps you be with strong emotions and what helps you let them go? What brings you joy and levity?

 

–lissa

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self-care -> community care

Please check out this regularly updated post on Coping with The Impact of Covid-19 if you are in need of support.
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There is nothing selfish about self-care. Self-care is a foundation of community-care and a form of community-care. By allowing space for our own healing and care, we support community’s healing and care. We all are interconnected.

What are some ways to find self-care practices that are supportive for you?

-Checking in. Noticing how you are right now. How’s your body, your heart, your mind?

-Allowing space for the feelings, the sensations, and states that are present in the body, heart, and mind.

-Noticing if the feelings, sensations, and states feel familiar to you. Have you felt this way before? When have you felt this way before?

-If you have felt this way before, what have you done in the past that has been supportive and what have you done that hasn’t been supportive?

-What can you do right now to support feeling taken care of and nourished?

Engaging in this type of mindful reflection practice can allow space for you to honor your current state and offer yourself care that will support your current needs. This is a way of offering the care that the body, the heart, the mind, the spirit is asking for and will most benefit from rather than allowing an external source to guide your own care.

Be aware of when judgment takes space in this reflection process or in your self-care activities too and see if there’s space to relinquish that judgment and allow care to take whatever form feels most resonant in the current moment. Care can take many forms. Resting is care too.

In case challenging or difficult emotions arise during this process, it may be helpful to engage in a self-compassion practice if that feels of support. Here are phrases that resonate with me from Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh:

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Self-care can take a lot of forms ie. being outdoors, exercise, stillness, music, creativity, connecting with loved ones, cooking, comedies, resting a palm on your belly and chest noticing your breath, etc. Find works best for you in each moment.

When you take care, you support the care of others as well. That care radiates out and a collective care begins to form. Thank you for all the ways you’ve taken care of you, of us.

—lissa

 

 

 

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here for you: coping with the impact of covid-19 (regularly updated)

 

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Resources for Coping with COVID-19:

Offerings from Lissa ~ Embodied Heart Mind:

~Blog Posts every Friday offering reflections on radical embodied care approaches like this post on Being with Grief or Healing Intergenerational Trauma

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~Virtual Qigong/Yoga/Improvisational Movement 30-minute sessions by donation

Virtual integrative psychotherapy or wellness and embodied mindfulness coaching.

Rates and more info here. Online scheduling here (under new client tab)

***

~Online Group Offerings of Embodied Play & Meditation — Forms of Care, Compassion, and Pleasure in Community
When: 7:15-8:45p EST on Mondays, 4/6, 4/20, 5/4, 5/18, 6/8
Cost: $5-10 donation is greatly appreciated to support Lissa via paypal/venmo to @embodiedheartmind. No one will be turned away for lack of funds.
RSVP:here

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~Online Group Offerings for One Love Sangha, a community for those who identify as Black, Indigenous, and People of Color and Their Comrades which will include guided meditation, check-ins, embodied practices, and dharma teachings
When: 7:30-9p EST on Thursdays, 4/2, 4/16, 5/7, 5/21, 6/4, 6/18
Cost: $5-10 donation is greatly appreciated to support Lissa via paypal/venmo to @embodiedheartmind. No one will be turned away for lack of funds.
RSVP:here

***

May the rooting and grounding, the flowing and adapting qualities of trees be with you.

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Reflections from Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh about practicing with difficult emotions from his book Fear: Essential Wisdom for Getting Through the Storm:

 “It is in moments like this that we stick to our mindful breathing and gently recognize our afflictions, whether anger, frustration, or fear. Suppose we are feeling worry or anxiety. We practice, ‘Breathing in, I know that anxiety is in me. Breathing out, I smile to my anxiety.’

Maybe you have a habit of worrying. Even if you know it’s neither necessary nor useful, you still worry. You’d like to ban worry and get rid of it, because you know that when you worry you can’t get in touch with the wonders of life and you can’t be happy. So you get angry at your worry; you don’t want it. But worry is a part of you, and that’s why when your worry comes up, you have to know how to handle it tenderly and peacefully.

You can do it if you have the energy of mindfulness. You cultivate the energy of mindfulness with mindful breathing and mindful walking, and with that energy, you can recognize and tenderly embrace your worry, fear, and anger.” — Thich Nhat Hanh

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Home Practices

~Extensive List of Online Dharma and Meditation Offerings 

~ BIPOC Meditation Communities

~Tara BrachJack Kornfield: Pandemic Care, Mindfulness, Compassion Resources

~Kaira Jewel Lingo: Compassion Practice in a time of the Corona Pandemic + Article: In Times of Crisis, Draw Upon the Strength of Peace

~Ten Percent Happier Meditations & Coronavirus Sanity Guide

~Eckhart Tolle and Kim Eng Video Resources

~Iyanla Vanzant: Structured Venting Invitation & Healing White Light Meditation

~Meditation Apps such as Insight Timer or Liberate Meditation by and for BIPOC 

~Dharma Talks and Guided Meditations via Dharma Seed 

~Online Health and Fitness Classes from the YMCA

~Online Trauma Sensitive Yoga Classes by donation

~Music/dance parties: 4/4 4pm PDT – DJ D-Nice on IG live

~Global Meditation 4/4 1045pm EDT

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Home Retreat

Reflections on Creating a Home Retreat article by Dharma Teacher Jack Kornfield

In the article, Jack Kornfield shares how to set up a schedule for a home retreat and offers a number of online resources one can use for the retreat. He writes: “The purpose of a retreat is to follow a formal rhythm of practice that allows you to center yourself, tend your body, quiet your mind, see the present circumstances with clarity and freedom, and open your heart…Though initially a home retreat may feel unfamiliar or hard, you will gradually find yourself settling in and feeling grateful for the rewards. Now is the perfect time to draw on the inner strength of meditation and deepen your capacity to live amidst it all with awareness and compassion.”

In addition to the resources for home retreat offered by Kornfield, perhaps you may resonate with Soto Zen Teacher Zenju Earthlyn Manuel’s Finding Sanctuary— A Self-Paced Retreat Guidance. 

“What happens to a hurt people? We forget that we are butterflies bearing up in the wild winds. We forget that we are tender from the suffering.”~ Zenju Earthlyn Manuel

Take amazing care of yourselves where it hurts, where there’s fear, where there’s anger, grief, uncertainty, despair, loneliness, scarcity… and know that you are not alone.

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Wellness Resources

~Crisis Text Line (Text HOME to 741741 if in crisis)

~Mental Health and Self-Care Kit with Crisis Hotline information by Bokyung Kim

~Recommendations on navigating physical distancing from the American Psychological Association, from Dr. Goldberg, a psychiatrist, and from Dr. Stephen Porges via video 

~Explaining Covid-19 to Children document

~That Discomfort You’re Feeling Is Grief article by Scott Berinato

~Nine Simple Interventions for Depression by Janina Fisher

~NAMI offers many mental health resources and virtual support groups

~Managing Stress and Anxiety Recommendations by the CDC

~Virtual AA Meetings 

~While at Home tool, resources, and supports

~Spiritual Tools to Relieve Anxiety About the Coronavirus article by Gabby Bernstein 

~Video: How to Attend to Intergenerational Fatigue by Shirley Turcotte

~Emotional Freedom Technique/Tapping app 

~Shaking qigong video to release stress and circulate energy by Kim Eng

~COVID-19 Immune & Respiratory Herbs Resource

~An Herbalist’s Reflections and Recommendations

~DIY face mask instructions + video (both no sewing) 

~A letter from the virus, a video by Darinka Montico

~Rick Hanson on Resilience

~Brene Brown’s podcast

~Music playlists for example DJ D-Nice’s Homeschool playlist & parties, Tom Schnabel’s Music for Troubled Times playlists, and Emily King’s So Fresh and So Clean playlist 

~23rd Psalm song by Bobby McFerrin and friends

~Jai uttal psalm song

~Snatam Kaur song: The Angels are Listening

~Alvin Ailey live performances

~Coloring Coronavirus Reward Stickers by Gemma Carroll

~Free Resources for Schools

~Free E-books from North Atlantic Books

~Free books via Audible, Libby app, Scribd

~Lists of free resources from NPR & Chatterpack 

~Free Coursera courses including The Science of Wellbeing via Yale

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Collective Care Resources

~Free Resources for HealthCare Providers + 10% happier, headspace, tapping solution free subscriptions for healthcare professionals

~Resources for HealthCare Providers with Covid-19

~COVID-19 Resource Document for HealthCare Providers

~COVID-19 Resources for Mental Health Providers

~Covid-19 healthcare workers’ Facebook group 

~NYC COVID Worker Care Network & Support Group for Medical Providers

~Managing Health and Nutrition NeedsVisit 211 for assistance with finding food, paying housing bills, and other essential services

~PSA Safe Grocery Shopping in COVID-19 Pandemic Video

~Resources for Domestic Violence & Abuse Victims and Survivors in NYC and nationally

~Collective Care: Resource List by Cindy Milstein & Covid-19 Mutual Aid List

~Additional Resources by adrienne maree browngenerative somatics 

~How To Get On: A self-advocacy guide for folx with disabilities

~A Disability Centered Response to Covid-19

~Queer & Trans Resources in the Time of Covid-19 web site by Max Zev Reynolds

~Know Your Rights Guide for Trans & Non-binary Folx by TLDEF

~Resources for Challenging Times from the Gender Spectrum

~Covid-19 Sex Worker Harm Reduction Resources

~COVID-19 Resources & Healthcare Access for Undocumented Communities

~~Tips for Countering Stigma and Racism and Stop AAPI Hate Incident Report Forms for COVID-19 related hate crimes towards Asian American and Pacific Islander folx

~COVID-19 Racial Equity & Social Justice Resources

~Anti-Oppressive/Anti-Racist Home School Options During Quarantine

~Resources for Educators and Families

~Decolonizing Community Care by Jade Begay

~COVID-19 Decarceral Guidelines by The Justice Collaborative

~COVID-19 Freelance Artist Resources & Freelanders’ Relief Fund

~COVID-19 Relief for Small Businesses

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***This list will be updated regularly to continue to be a source of support for you.

May you be well

May you be happy, peaceful, and at ease

May you be safe, free from inner and outer harm

May you be free from suffering

With love, 

lissa

In closing, I wish you love song from Miumiu:

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heart-centered living

Please check out this regularly updated post on Coping with The Impact of Covid-19 if you are in need of support.

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13th-century poet Rumi wrote: “Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”

What if instead of finding all the barriers we have built against love though, we find all the barriers that we have built against becoming love and let them go?

When I think of a world where everyone engages in a practice like that, I imagine a world where everyone embodies kindness, generosity, and compassion and genuinely cares about the well-being and happiness of all beings. 

In Buddhism, mind-heart qualities like loving kindness, compassion, sympathetic joy for the happiness of others, and equanimity are called divine abodes or the four immeasurables which are said to be the only mind states that arise once one becomes liberated.

I imagine Buddhist masters the Dalai Lama and Thich Nhat Hanh as beings who emanate the divine abodes.  The Dalai Lama describes his practice as a peaceful path of kindness, love, compassion, and not harming others that has become a part of him.

Quotes from the Dalai Lama on these qualities include:

“The basic fact is that humanity survives through kindness, love, and compassion. That human beings can develop these qualities is their real blessing.”

“Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.”

“Compassion is the wish to see others free from suffering.”

“A truly compassionate attitude toward others does not change even if they behave negatively or hurt you.”

“Love is the absence of judgment.”

“The more you are motivated by love, the more fearless and free your action will be.”

“Take into account that great love and great achievements involve great risk.” 

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Supportive phrases and prayers we can offer ourselves from Thich Nhat Hanh:

Four mantras:
“1. Darling, I am here for you.
2. I know you are there, and I am very happy.
3. Darling, I know you suffer.
4. Darling, I suffer. Please help.”

Nine prayers:

~May I be peaceful, happy, and light in body and spirit.
~May I be free from injury. May I live in safety.
~May I be free from disturbance, fear, and anxiety.
~May I learn to look at myself with the eyes of understanding and of love.
~May I be able to recognize and touch the seeds of joy and happiness in myself.
~May I learn to identify and see the sources of anger, craving, and delusion in myself.
~May I know how to nourish the seeds of joy in myself every day.
~May I be able to live fresh, solid and free.
~May I be free from attachment and aversion, but not be indifferent.

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Certainly a heart-centered way of living has its risks and can be the polar opposite of the way many of us are raised to engage in the world and yet the opposite of it isn’t safe either. My upbringing prepared me to be in full body armor at all times and I wasn’t safe. I wasn’t protected. I was just hiding, not truly living life. Over the years of practice though it seems like that armor has slowly dissolved on its own.

Along with being with practices such as the divine abodes so frequently that they become a part of our nature, heart-centered living entails a radical self-love and care. That kind of care is expressed beautifully in these pieces by poets Khalil Gibran and Nayyirah Waheed:

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What does radical self-love and care look like for you?

For me, I feed all of my wounded parts jam and stroke their hair, deeply listening and nourishing them, and loving them as I love all the parts within me. I work with the resistances I have built to protect myself from getting hurt that have in actuality kept me from love. I relinquish my baggage, my stories, my dwellings on the past and projections of the future. I love myself in my entirety in a world set up for me not even to love the smallest aspects of myself. With a love like that emanating through my day, what could I have to fear?

 

—lissa

 

(This is an updated version of a post that first appeared on lissabliss.com)
above photo by ilsebatten
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Holding and Letting Go

Please check out this regularly updated post on Coping with The Impact of Covid-19 if you are in need of support.
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I have a love to garden deep in my roots.
I breathe in flowers sacredly tended to by divine mothers
hoping they blossom throughout this lifetime.

I wake up unexpectedly sometimes
during that late-night, early morning space
where my dreams seem both near and far
and words that don’t speak flow within me
if I just stay awake a little longer
and press my senses gently
against my soul to hear them.

Tonight there was a melody of rain and crickets
just outside my window and I decided to stay
and listen. My hand reached outside the window
to both embrace and release the rain drops in my palm
interchangeably, and I wondered if this is what I should
be doing with each moment here:
both holding and letting go.

—lissa

(This poem originally appears on lissabliss.com)