By Serge Beddington-Behrens Ph.D

Gateways to the Soul

Gateways to the Soul

Author of Gateways to the Soul: Inner work for the outer world by Serge Beddington-Behrens, published by Inner Traditions, is available online and in all good bookshops from August 6 2020 priced at £14.99. 

1. The first thing is to accept that stress is in the air everywhere, as with this virus, there is great uncertainty and all our insecurities and vulnerabilities are being amplified or accelerated. Will we still be able to work, pay our mortgages? Therefore, not to experience some degree of anxiety at this time would be strange. That said, there are certain things one can do to mitigate it.

2. Address all the loose ends in your life. Realise that in these challenging times, one needs to be proactive – take the bull by the horns - find out if one can get a loan, make sure one is clear what is going on in one’s own profession, discover how to operate Zoom or Skype to see if one can do some part of one’s work online. The worst thing is to give in to victim consciousness, to the idea that everything is doomed and there is no way out. Remember the truth of that old adage that ‘where there’s a will there’s a way!’

3. Make sure you eat healthily, as our diets radically affect how we feel. In other words, plenty of green veggies and fruit, and watch one’s tendencies towards any addictions – i.e. alcohol or drugs. In the short term, these certainly serve to mitigate anxiety but in the long term, they only exacerbate it and make one feel more helpless. None of us can escape what is going on around us. We have to accept it and work with ‘what is’ and ‘what is’, is that our world is changing rapidly and we don’t know what will happen a year down the road!

4. Keeping physically and spiritually fit by doing plenty of exercise – swimming, bicycling and jogging – and doing techniques like yoga or tai chi is highly recommended, as these assist our health at emotional and spiritual levels. I also highly recommend that one learns to meditate as this activity serves to quieten the mind. It is also important to get out into nature as much as possible, as green trees and open fields also have a wonderfully soothing effect.

5. One of the detrimental effects of lockdowns is that they cut us off from the nourishing effects of being close to our fellow human beings. So make sure you remain in good contact with your friends and even try and create a support group where you can meet – online or out of doors – and where you can discuss openly together all the things that frustrate and upset you, as ‘getting our feelings out into the open’ is so important.

6. In these tumultuous times, I think we all need to stand our own ground and be clear in communicating our personal truth regarding whether we choose to go out and meet friends, attend a birthday meal or other social event. Yet, social guilt is becoming an issue for many people as we navigate our way through stop-start lockdown situations. Not pleasing someone is not rejecting them and is no reason to feel guilty. It is honouring who we are and is being appropriate. By honouring our own intuition, as I did by refusing the invitation, we can feel empowered as opposed to guilty.

If despite all these activities, you still feel anxious and/or stressed, perhaps you need additional help, in which case you should obtain the support of a good psychotherapist – someone you feel confident in and in whose presence you feel ‘seen’.