Coping with Disaster Christine October 13, 2017 Be Resilient, Personal Growth These big fire and flood losses (think Northern California, Houston, Puerto Rico) will be difficult for anyone, and can be especially activating and triggering for people with root chakra issues, aka core security fears. Root level fears often stem from early abandonment, chaotic imprinting, or other insecure attachment or early traumas. Those big fears will be up and screaming: Will I be provided for? Am I safe? Is there sanctuary? As any routine or safe space is upended, a person with this profile is at risk for an extra spike in anxiety, anger, and/or depression. Losing a home is not “just stuff” for these people. Even when the conscious analytical mind might understand “it’s just stuff”, the underlying feelings can be very intense, a despair or panic that can be hard to handle. What’s worked for people: 1. Establish “temporary normal” While there are many things you won’t be able to do because your house is gone, or your equipment or clothing is gone, there are still things that you can do: walks, dancing, family meals. Study hours. Public spaces. A new daily routine. Craft a platform that isn’t based on material goods but on a reaffirmation of your own agency and ability to exert control in your life. Especially with kids: quickly establishing a base for education and work. Some fun/play/humor. Some daily inspiration. It’s ALL always happening, the good and bad. Don’t let the good be masked. 2. Invite the Phoenix Once immediate health, housing and transit (for a couple of weeks at least) are established, begin to frame up a plan based on an honest evaluation of your true desires and realities. We all get into ruts, even if we like them a lot. A disaster can also be a clean slate, a time of incredible creativity and new green growth. The seedlings can really come in. Maybe something wants to be born that you weren’t considering prior to the disaster. Realistically, clean up, insurance processing, planning, rebuilding will be a good 2 year process, maybe more. The people I’ve talked with today are in shock – but already they are thinking about whether to stay local, or go somewhere else. For many, staying in the community is often most desirable, with an intent to rebuild together, yet this requires rental inventory that wasn’t there before in Northern California, and the many hundreds of family size homes that will be needed just aren’t available. People’s creative responses run the gamut….should we take a leave of absence and return when rebuilding is over? Or bulldoze the place and sell the lot and move on to a ready to go home so we can continue our work in the world uninterrupted? Is this the time to pursue that dream of a year in South America? Another said maybe this forced downsizing will be a blessing….”we will probably stay put and experiment with simplicity”. In any case, let the outcome be better than what you had before. It’s possible. 3. Direct the mind Talk directly to the fear. Identify all the times you’ve been resilient, capable, figured out a solution, made a home when you had none, received help when it wasn’t expected, asked for help and got it. It really works well if we combine personal responsibility for our emotional state and daily actions, with the willingness to lean in to the collective for help and guidance- physical, financial and emotional. It’s also helpful, when you’re ready, to explore a growth oriented framing: what can we learn from the tragedy? How does it connect us to our better selves and the rest of humanity? How do our values get realigned? What is the blessing? How can we be both strengthened and softened by this? If you’re super triggered, use all the self soothing techniques you’ve got, and try to stay conscious of the fact that your early experience may lead you to a disproportionate negativity bias, that you may only be seeing the catastrophe, when there might be other things available to also see. 4. Direct the spirit All of human existence at all times in history contains loss. Ego mind personalize this. But it’s not personal. It’s just the cycle of things: creation- stasis -destruction – stasis… everything is always moving. You are one piece of a dynamic vibrant universe. Stars explode, winds come. Fortunes come and go. You’re up sometimes, and sometimes not so much. Yet the core of your beingness never changes. The still expansive loving place behind the noisy thoughts is always there. In that space you’re connected to all of creation. That place is available all the time, and with practice or grace you can drop in faster and faster. If you have an existing faith based practice, use that fir all it offers. If you don’t, then join me (or others) in guided meditations and see if starting a practice feels good to you. (PS If you are of the mindset, double down on singing or chanting or praying with others: it opens up a portal of sorts for that connection.). 5. Lean way in At some point most of us will experience some devastating illness in the family, or some major loss. People really do desire to help, as you do when you’ve got it to give. Empathy and mirror neurons are real things. Don’t be embarrassed or shy. Say it straight: These are the things our family needs, that I need. Who can help? Be explicit: e.g., we need dishes and silverware. We need a carpool to work. We need a dog foster. A babysitter. Treat it like a wedding registry- a Phoenix registry. If, like many people, you don’t have a lot of friends, lean into community organizations, faith communities, let the net work for you. That’s the social compact, and it doesn’t mean you’re weak. There may be logistical difficulties, financial issues may make it extra hard on people, getting a home together again is a lot to deal with. But you’ll be surprised. The beauty is always there too. You can give yourself sanctuary, a place to rest, even in the most challenging of circumstances. May the healing and rehoming be swift.