This Hurricane Sandy thing has me doing laps around the house.
This loss of control thing makes me uncomfortable. So I notice that. And I think, what can I learn from this?
What do I do to prepare for the impact of a storm like this?
What do I do to prepare for the impact of anything in my life---is it different?
What do you do?
From everything I've learned the past few years about fear, bracing against it--steeling yourself from a place of ego, doesn't lessen the impact. It doesn't make it hurt less. It doesn't reduce the damage--in fact, in many instances, it can increase it. My favorite spiritual teacher, Pema Chodron, shares this beautiful story where she talks about our many attempts to avoid pain by putting up walls. The more walls we put up, the more frightened we feel if they don't seem to be working--or if we feel like they won't. Instead of being present with the fear, pain, vulnerability, anxiety, powerlessness--we try to construct emotional and often physical walls to protect us. Instead of bringing us closer to healing and peace, they just isolate us even more because there we are, hidden behind something that doesn't make us feel more protected and calm. In many ways, in our attempts to be safer behind these walls, (defense mechanisms, boundaries, and habits) we end up creating the exact experience we didn't want: we become the target for the arrow.
Here were some things I saw myself and/or other people doing in anticipation of this impending storm and the comparisons I made to what we do in other situations where we feel scared, threatened or out of control.
Hoarding food Making jokes to lighten the situation Taking things personally Making excuses Procrastinating Worrying (out loud and to self) Lashing out/reacting Blaming Stockpiling Eating when not hungry Avoiding Running away Hiding Speeding up Working faster/harder/more Rushing Being in constant motion
this is my short list.
Here's a perfect example:
I had some chicken in the freezer that I bought on sale. I thought, hey, I better take that chicken out and cook it before the power goes out. I tried microwaving it while I was rushing around doing a few other things. I got impatient. I said, "I don't know how long this should take, it looks fine." Threw it in the oven. Fire alarm sounds. I check the chicken. Not cooked. I put it back in and turn up the temperature. "What temperature do I bake chicken at?" I have no idea. I check the updates about Hurricane Sandy's location. Text a few friends in NY/NJ. Smoke alarm sounds again.
are you feeling anxious? If you are, you get it. That's the energy I had when I was doing this. See how my attempt to "prepare" wasn't making me feel any more relaxed, calm and prepared?
The chicken---we won't even go there.
I don't cook meat well because I took too many years away from it when I was a vegetarian. It stresses me out to prepare it so I am sticking to cooking some vegetables. That I know how to do. It's in my comfort zone.
Boil up some sweet potatoes and onions in some water and chicken broth, add some kale, spices and call it "Hurricane Sandy Stew".
And now I'm going to go meditate. I'll prepare for the impact by not doing one more damn thing to prepare for it.