It’s Wednesday August 12th. New Zealand just found four cases of community transmission after 100+ days with none. Auckland is going into Level 3 Lockdown. The rest of the country is in Level 2 Lockdown. Those four cases are all within one family, traced to a man in his fifties. But it’s not yet known how he got it. He hasn’t been overseas. He hasn’t had contact with staff of isolation centres. It’s a great unknown.
When the announcement blared out of my phone at 8am this morning, it instantly triggered an intense fear response. Possibilities flashed through my mind.
- What if it spreads?
- What if the rest of the country goes into Lockdown?
- What if it impacts my September 28th Residential Training, again?
Immediately, I got out of my mind and reorientated back to the felt-sense of my body.
There was strong sensation in my belly. I could feel the amygdala had been turned on. I deliberately slowed and deepened my breathing. I imagined softening around the amygdala and holding it tenderly, inviting it to turn off. I acknowledging that there was no immediate threat. I reminding myself that even if the Training was impacted, I would deal with it.
Through all of this, I noticed an immediate shift in my experience of the physiological signals in my body. I went from feeling afraid, to feeling excitement. There was a thrill, a sense of being in a game, of stepping up. My mind switched to thoughts like:
- Can I master my amygdala?
- Can I release all attachment to this training?
- Can I find the joy in responding to this unfolding?
Now I felt energised, in my power, ready to assess the situation and take the necessary action. It felt good. It almost felt… dare I say it… fun.
My attention shifted to the Team of Five Million. How is everyone else feeling? What are they going through? What do they need? How can I support my Team?
This article is a response to that. We’re all in this together, and the more we can be kind, and support each other through the challenges, the more we can decrease the suffering and find the joy of life despite it.
Here’s my suggestions on Five Steps to Dealing with the Fear and Uncertainty of Covid-19 and Lockdowns.
1. Notice what’s happening in your physical body and do what’s necessary to shift out of fear.
This is the FIRST action to take and the most important. Tune into your felt experience and see if you’re experiencing fear. If you are, that means your amygdala has been turned off. It’s your job to turn it off. Use whatever tools or practices you have to do this. Make it your priority. Don’t do ANYTHING else until you’ve attended to this.
This means that any following actions come now from fear, but from a relaxed state of being. This is critical. If the amygdala is turned on, it will over-ride the neo-cortex. This means you makes decisions based on fear, not on what is actually needed. This is why so many people immediately hit the supermarket when the announcement was made. Did they need food? Is there any danger of supermarkets running out of food? No, not at all. But from a fear-based, instinctual place… going out and getting food feels like safety and feels necessary. It feels like doing something, which feels better than doing nothing… and feeling all the feels.
But feeling all the feels is what leads into real power. And that starts with learning to master your fear response. It’s critical, and could be one of the biggest gifts of Covid-19. Here’s some practices that may help.
Use these practices, and get out of fear, and back into the parasympathetic nervous system.
- Video • Conquering Fear and Anxiety with Kylie Rook
- Video • Anchoring into Presence and Feel what’s Present with Kylie Rook
- Audio • The Golden Column Meditation with Kara-Leah
2. Make a list of all the aspects of your life that could be impacted by Lockdown
Now that you’ve turned off the amygdala and you’re back in a restful place, it’s time to get practical and strategic. Get out a pen and paper and write down all aspects of your life that might be impacted by a Lockdwno. It made be helpful to divide this into categories: Work, Home. Health, Family for example. Your categories will depend on your life.
Once you’ve written down all the things that will be impacted, highlight the things that you need to respond to. Notice if you get triggered into a fear response again, and if you do, IMMEDIATELY stop, and go back to whatever tools or practices switch you from fear into relaxation. Do that again.
It may be useful to start by ONLY focusing on what’s impacted NOW, and then focus on what could be impacted if the Lockdown Levels go up again.
So have two lists.
What’s impacted now, and what could be impacted in the future.
Focus on the NOW list first.
Step 3: Write down the actions you need to take because of these impacts.
Start your Now list, and start with the small easy things, and then move on to the big difficult things.
On my NOW list, that’s small, I need to buy masks for my son and I.
Other than that, I’m not facing too many changes in my day-to-day reality. However, if Auckland remains locked down, then the people who live in Auckland who are scheduled to come to my Sept 28th Training will not be able to come. Therefore, I need to put in place a strategy for this potentiality.
I also need to look at the possibility that in the future, no one will be able to travel, in which case, the Training will need to either be cancelled, switched to online, or postponed again.
Doing the thinking around this now, from a relaxed state of mind, means that if and when these things unfold, I already know what to do. It becomes much easy and more logical to handle rapidly changing external circumstances. I’ve got my plan in place. If that, then this.
The more you’re able to fully accept what is happening, the more likely it is what you can find a creative response that can yield surprising results.
When flights were cancelled in March, and I couldn’t go to Mexico to lead the Training I was running there, I immediately turned it into an Online Program. That was a huge success, and I’m now into my second Intake of students. I never would have gone online with this Training if it wasn’t for the cancellation of flying, and yet the results my students are having is amazing. It turned out that responding to what was happening with flexibility and creative started something new and powerful.
Doing this strategy work now will also help you identity any fears, weaknesses or attachments that need to be addressed.
For example, I’m currently living in a household with just my son and I. If we were going into a Level 3 or 4 Lockdown, my preference would be to have another person in the house with me. Identifying that now means that I can take steps to make that possible, and easy, if necessary.
Make sure that as you’re creating the list of actions you need to take that you are relaxed the entire time. Remember, if you notice that you’re going into fear (sympathetic nervous system), IMMEDIATELY stop, and do whatever you need to do to soften back into relaxation (parasympathetic nervous system).
Step 4: Ask yourself how you can enjoy, or gamify this process.
Yup – that’s right. Shit’s going down, it sucks, fear may keep popping up… but your job is to find the fun, find the joy, find the game in it all.
Remember that 1997 movie Life is Beautiful about a man who turns being in a concentration camp into a game to protect his child? If you haven’t seen it, go watch it. That’s a technique. It’s powerful. It demonstrates that YOU’RE taking control of your experience of reality.
You’ve already started this process by noticing when the sympathetic nervous system is triggered and using your tools and practices to shift back into the sympathetic nervous system. Now you’re going to up the ante, and bring in the joy.
For example, I need to buy masks for my son and I. Instead of buying disposable (hello landfill) masks in bulk, I’m going to head down to a local store, where a local person has been sewing cloth masks. Sure, they’re $25 a pop. But that money goes direct into a local store, and supports a local creator. And, they’re beautiful. That’s what I want – I want to see and feel the beauty of life no matter what, so that’s what I’m going to do.
When you look at the actions you need to take, including Steps 2 & 3, how could you bring more joy and fun into that process? What music makes you feel amazing? What movies make you feel amazing? How could you turn this into a game that you’re winning?
Step 5: Ask yourself how you can contribute to the Team of Five Million.
Once you’ve sorted out your own needs, identifying the impact this could have on your life, detailed the actions you need to take and found ways to make it fun and joyful… then it’s time to ask yourself what you can do to support your community.
Contributing to others makes us feel GOOD. But it’s important that you put on your oxygen mask FIRST because otherwise, helping others is coming from an unstable foundation.
In my life, I recognised that many people might feel afraid, or blindsided by the uncertainty this latest turn of events triggers. Dealing with fear and uncertainty is a super power of mine. So I identified that I could support the Team of Five Million by sharing a detailed process and strategy. I know that having a structure and a framework helps people relax and feel more safe. And that’s what this is all about ultimately – recognising that we’re ok. We are safe. Everything is going to be ok.
Yes, some people are sick, and more people may get sick. Yes, it’s possible that some people might get very sick, and experience on-going health challenges, and some people might die. Yes, businesses will be affected, and people may lose money. All of this is true.
And, we’re alive. We have each other. We have our friends, and our family. Life is still happening. The sun still feels as amazing on our skin as it ever did… if we allow ourselves to drop into our felt-sense of reality and notice that.
Which is what it’s all about. Get out of your head. Get out of fear. Connect with your body and your felt-sense of reality. Relax your system. And then act from that place.
Life is always uncertain, it always has been and it always will be. This is a fundamental truth of the nature of the importance of all things. It’s just that it’s being thrust right into our face right now. If you can see that, and you can be ok with that… all else flows from that place.
Oh, one last thing… be VERY mindful of how you’re engaging with social media right now. Fear is highly contagious, for real.
If you’re focusing on staying our of fear, you may want to stay off social media completely. And, also pay attention to what you’re bringing to social media. Are you adding to the fear? Or are you contributing to the Team of Five Million?
This doesn’t mean that you put on a false front. If you’re feeling fear and you need to express, do that by all means. But own your fear, and be clear about what you need from posting. Notice if there’s any judging, or blaming coming out in your posts. When we judge or blame external circumstances, we’re giving away our power. Don’t do that. Full acceptance of the unfolding is the game. This is what is happening, how do you need to respond. That’s what to focus on.
So maybe share your successes in the face of fear and uncertainty. Share your wins. Share the beauty and the joy in your life. Share the practices that help you relax and shift into the parasympathetic nervous system. Share the creative ways you’re responding to the challenges. Share what’s working, what’s winning, what’s awesome.
And maybe you’ll inspire and lift other people up because of it.
Five Steps for Dealing with Covid-19 and Lockdown
- Notice what’s happening in your physical body and do what’s necessary to shift out of fear.
- Make a list of all the aspects of your life that could be impact by Lockdown
- Write down the actions you need to take because of these impacts.
- Ask yourself how you can enjoy, or gamify this process.
- Ask yourself how you can contribute to the Team of Five Million.