Meditation: Escapism, Snake Oil or Essential Tools for Trauma?

What IS Going on

Art or images as a meditative practice-Mandela by Karin Krog

Out There…In There…?

Life seems to take us on its own journey lately and we’re left feeling very powerless. In the midst of the storm many New Age mindfulness, consciousness and snake oil salespeople have desperately tried to sell us “trauma tools” that we don’t understand and may or may not need. We have #resiliencefatigue from being bombarded by resiliency-building seminars from HR that we don’t have the focused energy to learn. “Take this meditation and mindfulness course online and you too can coast through global pandemic and economic collapse.” Well you can escape from it, I am sure. Like anything, we can desperately grasp onto simplistic answers for times that are pulling the rug out from all the material stability our global economy taught us we could depend on. We were serious students of 20th-21st century economic survival skills and now we are dropped on our collective asses on the sidewalk. What’s Up!?

We are going to need a bit more of the spirit in the mind-body-spirit connection to stay afloat while addressing systemic problems that lead us into traumatic societal and environmental collapse. But for now, we just struggle for Coping 101 between virtual meetings, job searches and un-masked encounters of the worst kind!

“Take this meditation and mindfulness course online and YOU TOO can coast through global pandemic and economic collapse.”

I’m sure the universe, God and all the deities are really sorry about all of that. I’m also sure that the political and economic gods have more learning to do. I can’t say what we will decide together. What I can say is that we need some help to turn inward, and although we have many gurus for resiliency-building skills, we don’t have to choose pricey instructors to fill our toolbox if we don’t have the means. Many expert instructors offer a few free demos and online instruction through institutions and organizations. A quick search on YouTube, Eventbrite and a “Free mindfulness meditation” search in your favorite search engine can turn up a lot of valuable, free and low-cost content. I have taken free trials and classes from around the world and traveled on virtual adventures with NAMI, Health Departments, Universities and The National Network of Libraries of Medicine (sign up for free). Search your local library catalog for stress reduction, music for meditation, books and free online events.

Racial & economic emergencies require focused attention Hope on a Tightrope by Dr. Cornel West

Healing in Action

Is it worth the effort? Maybe it is better to ask “What does it cost you to not know how to calm your nerves and find inner strength in the most nerve-wracking time in our collective modern history?” For those of us with high Adverse Childhood Experiences ACEs scores we are either more adept through this period, or traumas are experienced more acutely. ACEs or no ACEs, resilience building, muscle calming, relaxing shoulders where we carry our worries; emptying the mind, however briefly, can produce positive effects in the endocrine system, brain activity, digestion and reduce overall anxiety. I love scientists and educators that bridge traditional spiritual tools and practical-secular understanding for everyday use.

It is important to consider spiritual practices across religions and indigenous cultures, as well as how the scientific effects and benefits of mindfulness, contemplation and prayer serve our modern bodies, minds and spirits. From cross-cultural spiritual learning centers like The Garrison Institute or The Fetzer Institute, to scientific studies at Brown, Harvard Sara Lazar Study, UCLA Free Resources and other institutions, we can grasp how and why mindfulness and meditation can be effective. We literally have no excuses or barriers to the research and tools if we have access to a library or the internet (equitable access is an entire blog topic for another day).

University of Washington: Social Justice Mindfulness
Center for Child & Family Well-Being

The risk of searching the wide range of offerings is that we may get sucked into “teachers” and disciplines that take more than they give, or give unhealthy ideas or information. Pauses and discernment are essential when you are vulnerable and helps you if you are unsure of a practice or a teacher. You don’t want to throw the meditation out with the instructor if a contemplative or mindfulness practice can help you through racial and social injustice battles, economic instability, long lines at the food pantry, loss of healthcare, and a heaping portion of care and concern for family, friends or community. It is an easy time to fall for the 3 easy payments of $19.99 and the “Act now and you get a free meditation gong and a set of Ginsu knives”. You might need the knives, though.

NYPL Books on Mindfulness & Meditation

Escape from this reality? You bet! Permanently? Sorry, that clause is not included in the 30 day warranty. Best to use meditation and mindfulness for their tangible benefits to you and not as a permanent escape from the material challenges we face. Staying grounded yet comfortable in silence a little bit each day or using a guided meditation from a voice you enjoy…or can tolerate…will help you in some mild-to-meaningful ways. Five minutes: Pause. Reflect. Breathe. Still. Silence. Pray=thoughts of intention for the positive. Continue.

Do what works for you, when it works for you, as often as it works for you. Pause in the shower, while washing your hands (SDI) or doing dishes, parked in a parking lot, after a long Zoom call…take five.

“Do what works for you, when it works for you, as often as it works for you.”

Your life and my life and many lives are absolutely unstable. We just can’t escape that. But we have one another in our collective isolation, wired-up to encourage each other. We have hope…and effort…and concern…and a heart for change. We also have free and low cost tools for learning and helping each other while we surf, sink or swim. Find an instructor or author that speaks your pandemic trauma language. I know there are wonderful educators with good intentions ready to share, help and support our inner well-being if we need them.

Out There and In There-May you find peace

May you find resources that respect you

May you find a new way forward, mindful and hopeful, as we pause together…from a distance…in the storm

#mindfulness #resiliency #mentalwellness #socialjustice #meditation

#blacklivesmatter #covidcare #resiliencyfatigue #wellbeing #resiliencytoolbox

#coastthroughcollapse #escapism #traumatoolbox #freewellnessresources

#librariestransform #listensharetransform #theconversationpeace #coping

Published by The Conversation Peace- Danielle Henson SD

Collaboration Specialist, Discussion Facilitator, Presenter & Spiritual Director

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