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  • Michele Rothkopf

How Deep Are Your Roots? Seven Practices to Cultivate Inner Resilience During the Storm

Updated: May 31


Have you ever observed a tree during a rainstorm? The leaves and branches whip fiercely about, but the tree stays standing because its trunk is sturdy and the roots go deep. The symbol of the tree has much to teach us during this time of the pandemic storm.


How sturdy is your trunk? How deep are your roots? How well will you weather this storm? Below are 7 practices to help you build inner strength and calm so that your tree won’t fall. In fact, it may even grow stronger and taller than ever before. 

Practice #1: Embrace vulnerability. 


A wide variety of uncomfortable feelings may be arising within you during this period of sheltering-at-home— fear, anxiety, grief, loneliness, isolation, anger, rage, panic, depression, boredom, guilt, frustration, overwhelm, etc. While we may be practicing social distancing from one another at this time, let us not social distance from our own hearts. Resist the urge to push your feelings down, “fix” them, or run away from them. They are part of what it means to be human and are especially normal during times of stress and uncertainty. 


Breathe into the feelings; welcome them in. Speak them to a trusted friend, family member, or counselor. Write them in your journal. Share them with That Which is Greater. Feelings are energies that either move through us and transform or get stuck inside our bodies (joints, tissues, organs) if left unexpressed. Remember: Every emotion has a beginning, middle and end. Allow it to flow through to its completion.


The other day, I struggled with boredom, and this morning I felt anxious as I faced a full day without any plans. Both times I noticed the internal discomfort, the desire to make it go away, the decision not to, and the movement of the feeling through me and out because I did not abandon it (or myself) by distracting or numbing. The act of staying with myself through the entire life span of the feeling served to deepen my roots. I literally felt stronger as a result of having weathered the “inner storm.”


Our feelings are opportunities to grow more resilient if we are willing to meet ourselves where we are with curiosity, courage, and compassion. 


Practice #2: Spiritual Practice


It is incredibly helpful to lean into your spiritual practice (or develop a new one), especially during times of crisis or change. I define “spiritual practice” as something you do regularly to connect with a Higher Power or expand you beyond your ordinary consciousness. Examples of spiritual practices include prayer, meditation, yoga, reading spiritual materials, listening to spiritual talks or sermons, focusing on the breath, doing service, communing with nature, awakening to the present moment, music, art and dance. Even parenting, marriage, love or friendship can be a spiritual practice if you use it as a vehicle to grow beyond the limits of your ego. I have recently begun the daily ritual of watching the sun rise and set. It spiritually nourishes me and connects me deeply with Mother Earth. 


While we may not be able to control the coronavirus, the politicians, or anyone or anything outside of ourselves, we can always turn to our spiritual practices to find refuge, wisdom, power, peace, joy and truth. We practice for ourselves as well as for the well-being of others.

Practice #3: Find ways to nourish and refresh yourself every day.


Do a jigsaw puzzle, watch an old movie, write a love poem, belt out your favorite song, sit under the shade of a tree with your back up against the trunk, learn a new language or skill, crochet an afghan, contact an old friend, run in the rain, listen to a bird sing, read a book, pull out your guitar or art supplies, try a new recipe, share appreciations with your friends and family, etc. You get the idea. Use this time to engage in enlivening and creative ways.


It is very helpful to incorporate regular movement and exercise into your life, especially during times of stress. The endorphins (feel-good chemicals) that get released into your body when you exercise help to counteract the negative effects of stress chemicals such as cortisol and adrenalin. Find movement you genuinely enjoy (i.e., walking, swimming, jogging, dancing, biking, yoga, garden work, jump rope, etc.).

Practice #4: Limit your intake of the news and your computer/cellphone use. 


Don’t lose this opportunity to be with yourself. You can fill up this “new normal” with more endless distractions and busyness, or you can take this time to slow down, reflect, and grow your relationship with yourself.

Consciously choose what and how much media you ingest. Discern between information that is essential to know and that which is perpetuating fear. Set time limits and boundaries such as “I won’t watch or read the news after 6 pm” or “I’ll only check my texts or emails 2x/day” or “No more than one Zoom call/day.”


While we should be extremely grateful for the ways that technology is connecting us all (we especially need each other at a time like this!), living endlessly on your computer and phone can have the negative effect of jacking up your nervous system and disconnecting you from yourself and nature.  Keep a healthy balance and notice when your balance is off. If you tune in, your nervous system will tell you when it’s time to shift. I have recently instituted a computer/cellphone fast every Sunday in order to bring me closer to myself. 

Practice #5: Gratitude


Gratitude is the practice of paying attention to all that is good rather than all that is wrong. Before you go to sleep each night, write in your journal a list of 3-5 “Thin Slices of Joy.” These are tiny moments in your day that you are most grateful for. They’re often something small and simple like “I ate the sweetest mango today.” Don’t just report it from your head. Rather, take the time to reflect on each item on your list, re-experience it in your imagination, and feel your heart expand.

Practice #6: Let your breath anchor you in the present moment.


Stop reading at the end of this sentence, close your eyes and take 3 slow, deep belly breaths. 


Now open your eyes. How do you feel? (Speak aloud your answer.)


Paying attention to our breath returns us to the present moment as our body and mind become one. This body-mind alignment increases our level of calm, clarity, awareness and power.


Practice focusing on your breath as you go about your day, allowing the breath to help you be fully with whatever is here right now. You might even set an hourly chime on your phone to remind you to stop whatever you’re doing to take 3 deep belly breaths. Imagine your roots growing stronger with each breath you take.

Practice #7: Seek support and connection.


Similar to Practice #1 (Embrace vulnerability), it is important to reach out for support from trusted friends, family or professional counselors, therapists and life/health coaches. There is no need to go through this alone. 


Many insurance companies are now covering tele-sessions (on-line counseling) and are often waiving co-pays. More than ever before, there are numerous virtual support groups, 12-Step meetings, and on-line communities of all kinds. If you are experiencing mental stress or strain, or if you want support for moving forward in your health or life, then take the risk and reach out for help. 


I am eager to support you as a certified life and health coach. You can call me at 

(305) 378-6133 or check out my website at www.daretodream.biz. I’m happy to work with you on a sliding scale at this time.


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Choose just one of the seven practices outlined above. Which one resonates the most with you right now? Practice it wholeheartedly. Once it is fully a part of you, then you can decide whether or not you want to incorporate another practice that resonates.


I wish for you the deepening of your roots as you weather this storm. 

Michele

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