Every month I set an intention at the new moon. It is a practice that supports my choice to sync with natural cycles as well as a practice that makes me accountable to my vision. I find the new moon is a wonderful, visual reminder to start small and to build slowly and steadily.
I need the reminder. My nature is to be impatient – to want everything yesterday. My impatience most often stems from a strong desire to alleviate suffering. Because it is so hard to witness pain and to feel it, I want to rush in and immediately implement a solution.
Unfortunately, most of the pain which we see broadcasted daily will not be fixed quickly. This heart-wrenching suffering is rooted in systemic issues that require long-term solutions: solutions which can only be reached when we listen more than talk, when we reflect more than project, and when we work together instead of apart.
I completely appreciate the urge to tune out and to shut down. I also appreciate the hypervigilant desire to watch the news in the hope of understanding what is happening. Neither of these choices support wellbeing. What is the answer?
How do we cope with the pain, both collective and personal, while seeking solutions to the root causes?
Below is a quick start guide to navigating suffering based on my training as a mental health counselor as well as my work as a social justice advocate. I encourage you to take what works and leave the rest behind. I also welcome any suggestions you may have to creating wellness.
Please know you are not alone. Every client and friend with whom I have had contact has expressed grief, rage, and fear about recent tragedies. Each person wants things to change and most people realize change needs to occur at a systemic level. Have hope and keep reaching out. I believe there are more people who want peace, equality, and love than greed, violence and hate.
Sending love to all,
Quickstart Guide to Navigating Suffering
Go on a media diet.
Limit your intake of news to ten minutes, or less, a day. Believe me: ten minutes is plenty. This short amount of time will allow you to catch the highlights without being bogged down by pundits’ opinions or by becoming overwhelmed with details. Seek out different media sources to avoid bias.
Seek out sources of goodness.
Unfortunately, the average news outlet focuses more on what is not going well rather than what is. As Mr. Rogers’ mother told him: “Look for the helpers.” Share your discoveries with others. Let’s spotlight the helpers and inspire each other to acts of kindness.
Commit to one action step a day.
It may feel like there is nothing one person can do to stop the suffering. This feeling of helplessness stems from wanting to solve the entirety of the problem in a short amount of time. (Rome wasn’t built in a day nor did Rome in collapse in one day.) Pick one thing to do which is value aligned, meaningful, and kind. Perhaps you bring flowers to a friend. Maybe you volunteer at a nonprofit. Perhaps you work in your garden. Each minute you spend doing something value aligned, meaningful, and kind is one less minute tuning into the sources which feed off our pain, rage, and fear. That is victory.
Spend time creating.
When we feel stuck in our pain, our ability to imagine solutions is compromised. To prevent feeling stuck intentionally engage in creative acts. For some of us, this suggestion means traditional artistic endeavors such as painting, drawing, or sculpting. Don’t worry if that is not where your talents or desires lie. Being creative means many things. Writing prose or poetry, weaving, knitting or crocheting, making delicious meals and baked goods, landscaping, designing, sewing, jewelry making, dancing, storytelling, and music-making are just some of the ways humans create. Think outside the box. Pursue what you enjoy. It is not about the final product, rather it is about enjoying the process.
Move your body.
Look, I know you hear this recommendation all the time and there is a reason why you do. Because moving our body makes us feel better – even old, arthritic bodies feel better when they move. Moving also serves the purpose of completing our stress cycle and helps us release the stress hormones which accumulate in our system. When we move our bodies, we remind ourselves that we are not stuck and that we do have power. If your goal is to sustain a social-change movement, then you have to move your personal body.
Kim Bushore-Maki is a soul-driven entrepreneur who understands the undeniable urge to create a business and a life filled with meaning and purpose. Her vision of opening a center where women could heal and grow led her to open Shakti in the Mountains in Johnson City, Tennessee: a place where the creative, feminine energy is nurtured and valued.
Since 2010, Kim continues to build and to support a healthy, vibrant community and now guides retreats, teaches yoga, and provides one-on-one services for women who want an immersion experience into the life-affirming, Shakti energy.
Kim’s training as a therapist and yoga teacher allows her to safely and compassionately guide women on a heart-centered journey to Self, where women re-connect with their beautiful, authentic spirit.
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