• Leona Evans

Transcription "Coping with COVID-19: Keys to Self-Care"

Leona: 0:06 Hi. Welcome to the first edition of the Get off your affirmation podcast. I'm Leona Evans, and I'm here with my son and co host Matthew J. Evans. Matthew: 0:28 It's great to be here and great to be recording this podcast with you. Leona: 0:32 I know I'm really excited, So let's get started. Get off. Your affirmation is a call to action. Each week will challenge you to take an in depth look at your old habits and beliefs and find out whether they're helping you or blocking you from achieving your highest goals will provide loving support and innovative tools to guide you toward greater levels of creative fulfillment, self acceptance and inner peace. Well, we were set to launch a couple of weeks ago, but since the Coronavirus has been identified as a global pandemic, we wanted to connect with you about this really important topic. And look at some ways we confined to use our inner strengths and wisdom to deal with these issues as effectively as possible. Matthew: 1:21 Yeah, there is a lot of anxiety out there, a lot of fear and a lot of change in people's lives. Our lives have certainly changed a lot. My life as a student at CSU Long Beach has changed drastically. We the campus is effectively closed entirely. We're switching toe all online classes and as a music student, you know, so much of it is performance based. So all of that is being suspended. And as a musician, all of our performances and gigs air being suspended and and we've been dealing with it it at Unity of San Luis Obispo as well. Leona: 1:55 Yes, I've been ministered unity of San Luis Obispo for more than 26 years. And for the first time ever, we're being asked to close our doors because we're following the recommended guidelines of the state of California, asking us to close our doors to gatherings of over 10 people and to stay at home as much as we possibly can. So we will be doing ah Facebook live stream on Sunday mornings, which we've been doing for more than a year, but never away from our facility. From now on will be meeting out of our dining room, and this could represent some financial challenges for us. A cz well, a cz logistical ones. But you know what? We're going to make the best of it and we're gonna be okay. Matthew: 2:43 Yeah, we're gonna be there doing the Lifestream, singing the music, and you're gonna be there giving the talk. I really think it's gonna be, ah, powerful way to help maintain our sense of community through all this. Leona: 2:56 Now, we don't know a great deal about the particulars of this situation of this Corona virus pandemic, but we know this. It's an international crisis involving great anxiety and great fear of the unknown. And right now, as we record this podcast businesses air shutting down, Matthew: 3:16 everyone is really that I see, at least is taking this really seriously. Leona: 3:21 Well, I appreciate that, and I agree that we need to take it seriously and behave responsibly to inhibit the spread of this virus. However, what we want to address today is panic and depression and all of the feelings that can come up when we're faced with a crisis that were totally unprepared, for Matthew: 3:43 It's really hard to be faced with something of this magnitude and and not know what to do about it. Leona: 3:49 We're actually being called to change the way we live our lives now to distance ourselves from one another to be careful of what we touch to take nothing for granted, to use extreme caution and everything we do every day we hear the news of more people dying. Every day we hear politicians being contentious with one another. Now, unless we find an access, a higher level of our inner strength and power, we risk becoming overwhelmed and not being able to function at all. And so right now I respectfully challenge everyone within the sound of my voice. Thio, get off your affirmation and choose to call forth earthy, overcoming power within you again. I respectfully challenge you to get off your affirmation and choose to call forth e overcoming power within you. Now let's talk about four key ideas to help us access and strengthen our inner power. The 1st 1 is cultivate a solid support system number to practice the art of acceptance. Number three express Gratitude number four generate peace through spiritually practices. Now, at first these ideas might sound simple or even obvious. But as we listen to the rest of this podcast, most of us will find that up until now, we've only tapped the surface of these life altering concepts. So let's take the first key to self care. Cultivate a solid support system now, although it seems obvious for our mental and emotional well being, This is truly an underrated practice because most of us feel we have to be independent and handle things on our own. Now, in many ways we are, and in many ways we can. But it becomes obvious if we really look back that there are times in life where we need one another and this is not dependence. It's called interdependence. It's a realization that there are times when needing one another is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength and emotional maturity. It's part of our growing realization that were all part of this wonderful human family and that were stronger together. Then we are on our own. And so if you're struggling with the belief that you should do everything on your own, or that you don't want to bother anybody or that you're embarrassed to admit your vulnerabilities, please do everything you can to let that go. It Matthew: 6:34 can seem kind of hard to be interdependent, though, when we're in a state of quarantine or or lock down or not able to really get together socially. But they're many examples around the world of people creating that interdependence and experiencing that even from their bedroom windows. And we can see in Italy and Spain their videos that got really popular last week with people singing together in Italy and banging on pots and and creating all kinds of joyful noise together. And then in Spain, there was a really moving video that we both saw at eight o'clock every night in Barcelona. Everybody leans out their windows and thanks, the doctors and the nurses and the medics. And the first responders really, really beautiful, showing that sense of community that, you know, even though they can't get together, they can't hug. They can't do any of the things that they would normally do in a social environment. They're still finding that community and giving each other the love and support that they need. And so many other countries air following suit Leona: 7:41 it. It's so beautiful to witness, and it strikes us at a very core level of our being. It fills us with a sense off wonder at the beauty of life itself and of the inventiveness and the originality of the human spirit to be able to find ways to come together in love, even when there is very little physical evidence to suggest that we can do that Matthew: 8:12 and what an era that we live in to be able to prove that with all the video conferencing facetime, Skype livestreaming, we can have that sense of interdependence with anyone around the world, not just people in our immediate environment. Leona: 8:28 Yes, and being successfully interdependent requires a healthy balance between our ability to give and our ability to receive. Most of us most adults are much more comfortable when we're in a giving position. We can be magnanimous. We can be in control when people come to us and ask for help, were often very gracious and are generous with our time and our resource is. But when it comes time for us to ask for help, we find ourselves becoming defensive and closed off and frightened. Our memories of being rejected by others are triggered and suddenly all we can think of is people turning away from us, telling us that we're too needy, exposing us for not being strong enough or powerful enough and so we walk around looking and sounding very independent and very in control of things. Remember, the ego is frightened of losing control, and so we carry this facade. Other people need help, but I don't. Other people need to unburden themselves. I'm strong, I can handle things and I don't need help from anybody. That's such Matthew: 9:44 a difficult place to be in feeling so locked up inside, wanting toe ask for help. But being afraid of appearing Leona: 9:51 needy now, I'm not suggesting that we take a pendulum swing and start pouring our hearts out to everyone we see. But I am saying that there are great advantages to recognizing that we are both givers and receivers. We lift ourselves from that ego centered facade of invulnerability, and we become wonderfully and beautifully human. Matthew: 10:16 That's that's been something that has been a challenge for me in a real gold toe, work toward as someone who's more introverted, I'm not prone to naturally want to go out and talk about my feelings, and I have a tendency to fall into some of those traps of of kind of being more ego centered and feeling invulnerable or feeling like, Oh, I just want to take care of this myself. Leona: 10:38 Yes, I think most of us are dealing with those issues on one level or another. But the really important thing about having a support system and being a support system is that were developing community were developing authentic relationships. We're feeling free to be who we really are and to realize that who we really are is enough. And so the first key to self care is cultivate a solid support system. In this way, you develop your ability to give and receive and connect authentically and lovingly with others. Uh, okay. The second key to self care is practiced the art of acceptance. Now, true acceptance is an act of non resistance. It's beyond approval or disapproval. It's a practice that allows us to come to terms with what is, rather than trying to fight it or deny it. And when we come to see how important acceptances for our well being, we realize that so very much of our stress and anxiety come from the fact that we don't accept what is. We try to block it, we try to deny it. We fear that we don't have the resource is to overcome it. That's not acceptance. That is serious denial. Here's an example of what I mean. We don't know hoe to count on to tell us about the Corona virus. How lethal is that? How long it's going to last, when we're going to go back to work? We don't know any of those things, but it causes us anxiety. We feel like we have to know because we can go on unless we do know. And so we fixate on an object of much less importance, like toilet paper, something we can control. And we feel we can alleviate some of this anxiety if we get enough toilet paper. But no matter how many rolls of toilet paper we get, we're still anxious. We still don't know what we don't know, and we're not okay with it. Matthew: 13:08 And that's when we start to see all the panic buying and all these conspiracy theories going around on social media and people really, really getting upset. Leona: 13:19 Oh yes, we lose our sense of perspective. We believe that we're either totally in control of everything and need to get all the toilet paper there is, or we believe that their conspiracy theories, and they're way beyond our control and there's nothing we can do. It's a really, really difficult place to be acceptance. True acceptance is a is a spiritual act of non resistance without altering the facts, exaggerating the facts or pretending they don't exist. It allows us to see reality as it exists in the world at any given moment. It doesn't make dire predictions about the future or try to make sense out of it in any way. The facts are, we don't know what we don't know, and for us to come to terms with that gives us the opportunity to make wiser and more sophisticated decisions and tow handle our time as effectively as possible. It's Matthew: 14:25 that idea of accepting, really accepting the reality of the situation, but still maintaining that we're going to do everything that is within our control, to keep ourselves as well and whole as we can, but not have any delusions about how much control we have. Leona: 14:44 Yes, acceptance is not the same as apathy. It doesn't mean that just because we see that there is a pandemic and a corona virus, that there's nothing we can do about it. No, it's not about that at all. Acceptance is a reality check that empowers us to do what we can do and not waste precious time in anxiety and depression about what we can't do but will understand why we feel stress and anxiety and see it all around us without judging ourselves or others too harshly. When we admit that we don't know how long we're going to be sequestered as a result of the Corona virus will let go of the physical anxiety that has taken over us because our imagination has gone out of control. Acceptance contains, within it a way out, a way out of desperation away, out of confusion away, out of apathy. Acceptance leads to a state of mind where we can actually think rationally and figure out how to help ourselves and those around us instead of catastrophe, izing with others. We can brainstorm with one another and and make plans and think of solutions that we never would have thought of when we were too busy living in fear and denial. Acceptance moves us forward from the level of the problem to the level of the solution. This doesn't take away the problem, but it does put it in perspective. And so when you find yourself off balance really, really frightened, angry, anxious, accept the fact that you're in a negative space and want to get back to center, take a moment to get off the anxiety train and put yourself back in reality. Accept who you are, where you are and what is yours to do. We're working today with keys to self care. Our first step is cultivate a solid support system. The second step is practiced the art of acceptance. The third step that will discuss right now is express gratitude. You know, gratitude is highly underrated. Most of us think of gratitude is a response to a kindness. Someone does us a favor. We say, Thank you, we express appreciation. But the gratitude I'm talking about now and inviting us to experience is much more than a polite response to the actions of another. Gratitude is a spiritually power. It's not just a response to the action of someone else. It is a catalyst. It's our ability to recognize and acknowledge that spiritually nature in everyone and everything. See, most of us only feel that kind of gratitude during special times in our lives, especially during a crisis. Believe it or not, as we've said before, so many of us have stepped forward during this crisis to help one another and express love and gratitude for one another. Four. Not only what everyone is doing but for life itself is though we wake up from our small, ego centered world and see life is it can really be. And I remember some critical times in my life. The New York City blackout in the 19 sixties, the New York Public Transportation Strike, a monsoon that I survived in the Philippines. All of those deeply challenging times made even more extraordinary by the love and the selflessness of the human spirit. Matthew: 18:37 Gratitude is so important, and I've noticed a lot more gratitude lately. I've seen a lot of videos and posts online with people thanking doctors and nurses and first responders, and it's been so inspiring to see so many expressions of gratitude, you know, really inspiring to keep it going in my own life. Leona: 18:57 Now I'm not saying everyone will respond from the highest level of awareness. There will always be some in our world who will take advantage of the discomfort of others, and I acknowledge that. But I believe that most of us will respond in love. Matthew: 19:16 Yeah, I agree. History shows that in these times of crisis there have been many who tried a oppress others or make a profit. But man, today there are literally hundreds of thousands of examples all around the world of people responding with love and gratitude. Leona: 19:34 But what happens when the crisis is over? Well, we begin to fall asleep again slowly. Our gratitude for life is replaced by our daily complaints and criticisms of ourselves. Our our world becomes smaller and slowly but surely, our gratitude is replaced by dissatisfaction and we fall asleep again. Yeah, that's such a Matthew: 19:59 pattern. I can think of so many times around the world when we've had crises that really bring people together. But things always go back to normal. Afterward, everybody goes back to the same conflicts in the same sort of more self centered thinking, you know, then we do during these crisis times. Leona: 20:18 Yeah. And the word normal in this case doesn't mean healthy. Yeah, the word normal means the norm. And most of us are asleep during our daily activities, and we don't even think that there's much more to us than we're currently experiencing. So this time after the Corona virus crisis passes, this time, we need to focus on staying awake. And one of the best ways to do that is to practice gratitude. Now, practicing gratitude is like any other train of thought. When we get on it, it might start slowly, but the more we are grateful, the more we have to be grateful for Matthew: 21:04 right. But sometimes it can be hard to get that train of thought started Leona: 21:08 exactly. One of the biggest reasons for that is that we're not in the habit of generating gratitude were in the habit of believing the gratitude is a response. And so when someone says, What are you grateful for? It almost takes us by surprise. It's not that we have nothing to be grateful for. It's just that we're not used to generating that thought. Process for ourselves were much more used to criticizing ourselves, where much more used to finding fault with ourselves than we are with generating this idea of gratitude. It's all about perspective. Even in the most challenging times we can find something that we can be grateful for. Matthew: 21:56 There are things to be grateful for, even in this Corona virus we talked about before the doctors and the first responders. But they're even things that I've been thinking about that I didn't even hear about until very recently. Things like pollution levels being down, air quality being improve, rivers being clear that haven't been clear for years because people aren't out doing anything. People aren't driving, people aren't flying. So there's so much less pollution in the air and in the water. So even if it's only a temporary thing, maybe it's something that we can see and be grateful for now and try to preserve more in the future when we go back to regular life. Leona: 22:40 And I'm grateful because once we're able to see the difference between when we pollute the air and when we don't, it can give us tremendous incentive to doom or after this is over, to do more to protect our planet and to keep the air cleaner. So I'm not suggesting by any means that we be grateful for the Corona virus. I do think, however, that as spiritually beings learning how to be fully human. We need to take the responsibility for finding something of value, not something pleasant or something lovely when people say, Look for the good, you know, that's always a bit confusing because we don't want people to think that we're grateful that people have been ill and have died. What we are grateful for is our inherent ability to find something of value in the situation. Matthew: 23:40 Finding value is another form of gratitude. Leona: 23:43 It ISS it is another form of gratitude. So our goal is to practice gratitude every day to put balance into our lives, to keep from permitting the negative to take center, staged to nurture ourselves, to nurture our relationships, to realize how often we take a negative view of things, a limited view of things. This idea of practicing gratitude is far more valuable than I can put into words. And so let's begin with keeping a gratitude journal and to write in it at least three times a day to take a moment in the quiet as a form of meditation and find yourself in a place of abundance rather than lack. The more re practice gratitude, the more we have to be grateful for, huh? And so let's move on to our fourth and final key to self care. And that is to generate peace through spiritually practices. Matthew: 25:12 So by spiritually practices, we're not just talking about religious traditions specifically, but we're talking about any practice that will help create a state of mind where we can experience inner peace Leona: 25:25 and the term spiritually practice does not imply that we're learning how to be spiritually. We already are spiritually beings, created by the one universal, omnipresent spirit of life, love and wisdom. What we're talking about here is stepping away from our normal routines and taking time each day to breathe deeply, to relax in body and mind, and to focus on that which connects us to nature and the universe itself. Again, these practices won't make us more spiritually because we're already spiritually beings. These practices will awaken us to the reality of our spiritually nature and allow us to be more fully human, more fully ourselves and part of everything around us. Matthew: 26:22 Yeah, this is really important. And one that I had some experience with recently when my school closed, we were all sent home and and all of our rehearsals were canceled, everything was shut down, and it really put me and and a lot of my friends in a big funk. And I know I sat on the couch for several days and and was feeling kind of lost and feeling kind of lonely and and not very inspired. But, man, I woke up one morning and I was determined to get myself out of this. I When I'm at school, I almost always practice outside because there's a beautiful campus there and I love to stand outside with my bass and hear it resonate outdoors. It's lovely, and I was determined to recreate that at home on hopefully not disturb any neighbors. So I got up early in the morning just like I do for school, and I got my warm clothes on and I stood on the front porch and I played bass there for several hours, and it was so comforting to me to recreate that that feeling of being at school and being in that comfort routine that I'm used to being in sort of recreating that at home. And then after I practiced and I got all my music out that I wanted to get out for the time. I went in and did exercise and got myself all worked out and ran on the treadmill on really gotta sweat going more than I have honestly since before the semester started. So it was really good for me. I felt so good afterwards to get all of that anxiety. All those nerves kind of worked out of my system, both through the routine of playing music through an artistic expression of playing bass. But also, the physical activity of exercising was so cleansing not just physically but mentally and emotionally as Leona: 28:11 well. This is the reason why I'm not going to be specific about which spiritually practices each of us should engage in. We've got to understand ourselves so well that we know what it is that our body needs that our soul needs and go ahead and do those practices and feel the desired results. They're not the same for everyone, but the fact is that the Internet is filled with all kinds of stress reducing techniques. We need to keep searching until we find the ones that work for us. Matthew: 28:49 This reminds me of ah, project by the famous cellist Yo Yo Ma called hashtag songs of comfort. He's encouraging musicians from around the world to upload videos of them playing uplifting or inspiring your comforting songs toe help people all around the world and also nurture themselves in their own spiritual practices. Since musicians don't have a venue to perform in right now due to the Corona virus, it can be really discouraging as an artist not to be able to share that toe, have that response from an audience. So toe have this venue now digitally of this hashtag songs of comfort project. It's really, really important that that anybody who wants to perform and share and has something that nurtures not only themselves but anyone who listens, that they get that out there and share it. Leona: 29:43 And you're doing that right now. You're in the middle of a project that should be finished by the end of the week. And, of course, when it is and Matthew: 29:51 you a bloated, we can share it with all of you who are listening. I'm really looking forward to it. It's it's putting me kind of out of my comfort zone, playing playing instruments that air not just base and voice. Not my primary instrument. Six. Expanding into guitar and piano. So it's been challenging, but also really rewarding and gratifying. So I am very grateful to yo yo Ma for coming up with this great project. Leona: 30:16 And so let me share once again the keys to self care cultivate a solid support system, practice the art of acceptance, express gratitude and generate peace through spiritually practices. Remember, these ideas are only powerful when put into practice. So once again, I respectfully challenge you all thio Get off your affirmation and choose to call forth the overcoming power within you friends. Although we're deeply saddened by those who have been affected by this Corona virus, we continue to extend our love and prayers for brighter days ahead. We can overcome this and we will please. In the meantime, stay home and stay safe. Thanks so much for listening. Your support means a great deal to us. Please get Matthew: 31:14 in touch with us. We're looking forward to building the get off your affirmation community we're on Facebook at Get off your affirmation. Please get in touch with us there. We look forward to hearing from you


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