Before I get into my piece today, I want you to know that when I am called to write, I write. The inspiration always comes from somewhere — something I’m reading, listening to, or watching. Something that expands my context for living. Something that invites me to reconsider notions of what I’m holding as true and real. Something that opens the space for me to reconsider the blind spots in the process from which I live my life. Usually, it’s something Louise LeBrun is talking about (honestly, as a woman in a call today pointed out “How is she not the most famous person in the world, right now?!”. I wholeheartedly agree. And the answer, from where I stand, is that the masses are profoundly committed to denial, status quo, conventional living, habituated thinking, repeating that which they already know…even if it’s killing them. So be it.).
Lock. It. Down.
And so, with that in mind, I’d like to share my current thoughts about the strategy of lockdown…A strategy we have become all too familiar with this past year, no doubt. A strategy we have seen hold us hostage on a collective level. A strategy proposed to be in place “for our own good”. A strategy that is literally policed to “protect us” (I guess we’ve misbehaved and must be managed).
I’ve always wondered why we, the capable, smart, resourceful adults that we have the potential to be, have accepted this narrative so readily, so easily, so mindlessly…
Of course, I don’t have THE answer. And, what I know for certain is that …
Fear, of course, is mind killer. That’s a no brainer.
Not respecting the voice of authority is a punishable offence.
Coercion is often presented as “choice”.
Double Speak is real.
Double Think is real.
Big Brother keeps on recording…
What I hadn’t considered until now was the deep internalized indoctrination stemming from the shaping forces of culture that condition us to master the strategy of locking it down…
Anxiety and Lock-Down
In this piece, I will use my experience with anxiety as a metaphor. I encourage you to look for the similarities and draw your own conclusions about what this might mean for a larger-scale, collective-level problem we have all named Covid-19.
* Before I delve into that, I’d like to clarify for those who don’t know me — I have had my many year long struggles with anxiety and other mental health diagnoses (that no longer resonate one iota). I know what it’s like to be “in the trenches” with anxiety. I know what it’s like to feel like I’m dying. I know what it’s like to deny myself the Truth of my own experience. I know what it’s like to be profoundly committed to living the shitty status quo life I was living. I know what it’s like to be profoundly committed to believing the things I held as real and true even though they were killing me. This is not a judgment on those struggling with mental health; this is an empowering piece. If you don’t recognize that aspect as you read it, I encourage you to shift perceptual filters and reconsider… It’s all but a mindful choice. *
I can’t begin to count the number of times in which I have experienced anxiety attacks in my twenties. It was as though my life was coming to an end. My heart would beat like it wanted to jump off my chest. I often thought I was going to die. I was living in terror of not-knowing when the next “attack” will be, and it was debilitating. I was living in angst over the consequences of experiencing an “attack”. I was fearful, and that fear felt like it was actually going to kill me (while there are a minority of people experiencing anxiety who die from it, the vast majority end up relatively fine).
How did I handle this perceived intruder?
At first, I wanted to run away, to escape my reality, to leave my life. I wanted the anxiety to leave me alone, too.
When that didn’t happen, I wanted to understand why this was happening to me so that I can strategize about how to fight it, how to get rid of it. War mentality, on: me versus disease.
The easiest, most reachable solution in my awareness was medication. Pharmaceutical drugs. After all, that’s the civilization’s solution to “fighting” and “eradicating” most dis-ease nowadays, isn’t it? But for me, the benzodiazepines prescribed were no fun (I preferred uppers, anyway). They sucked the life Force out of me. I was a walking zombie. But, at least I wasn’t anxious (or angry. As it turns out, those two are energetically interconnected, but that’s a story for another time…).
I also tried therapy. I’ve tried therapy for: anxiety, anger management, depression, suicidal tendencies, relationship problems, drug addiction… maybe there’s more, but I can’t remember. Several times I ended up in the hospital, and once in the psychiatry unit for 72 mandated hours. I’ve never been treated more disrespectfully, more cruelly, more undignified. The Mind Over Mood workbook helped a little, because it allowed me to begin to take notice of how my habituated thinking was leading to this state of being. None of the other strategies suggested in therapy made a difference. I believe that’s because therapy (like all allopathic medicine) presupposes there is a “normal” and deviation from that means there is something wrong. It also presupposes that there is an “expert” who, after the “right” diagnosis, can help fix the broken person. But, that was not my internal experience. I knew something was going on within me, and, I knew that I wasn’t wrong.
Of course, I researched everything I could about any and all of these disorders doctors suggested I suffer from. I spent countless hours convincing myself that they were on to something. Maybe I suffered from Bipolar Type II, or depression, or anxiety, or both, or Borderline Personality Disorder, or… After all, the criteria all fit (because our minds make it so). There is trust in the medical field; the diagnoses are there for a good reason! Turns out, that’s simply (and filthily) untrue.
Lastly, as a huge fan of yoga for a plethora of reasons, I also tried strategies recommended by yogic teachings. Mudras, mantras, breath work, kriyas, meditations, pick-a-thing. It all temporarily helped; and when I was in the midst of it, none of it mattered. I was lost in my own misery. Out of breath, and all that’s a metaphor for…(but at least I was never on a ventilator).
As you can see, my strategy to manage this dis-ease psychiatry has labeled anxiety was to lock it down. Push it away. Hold my breath and hope it disappears. Plead with it. Helplessly give in. Manage and control it. Take soul-sucking pills (always, with side effects!). Intellectualize it. Take inventory. Make lists. Try to get to the root of it. Understand it. All the while, dearly clinging on to it. Conceptualizing it as real; because then, it was…
I had considered that I was continuously trying to run away-from it, but until now, I had not considered how I had tried so desperately and aimlessly to lock it down. Running away from something is the equivalent of locking it down…It’s all about a perceived inability to deal with what’s presenting, and so better push it down.
The imagery that I get from thinking about this right now is that of a duck being force-fed to create the delicacy of fois gras (for the pleasure of eating gourmet torture).
This isn’t news. Most of us know well the countless times we’ve been told things like “use your words!” or “of course you don’t feel that! Don’t be ridiculous!” or “shut up or I’ll give you something to cry about!”; all done in the name of good parenting. “It’s for your own good”.
But what parents may not have considered is that telling children to ignore or dismiss or avoid the contradictions presented in their bodies normalizes being in contradiction. It normalizes living in contradictory states.
You don’t see what you see, hear what you hear, or know what you know. The authority in your life know better. Listen. Obey. Dismiss the messages in your own body. Call it “bad” to feel X. If you can understand it, you can overcome it. Don’t act out. Suppress. Repress. Ignore. Explode. Apologize. Repeat.
Push it down. Make it go away. Deny its existence. Dismiss it. Ignore it. Disengage it. Avoid it.
When that does not work, manage it. Control it. Overcome it. Fight it. Be stronger than it.
Yet the years go by, and it persists… more often than not, getting more forceful in its delivery, more resistant, more ferocious.
Still, we persist and continue with business as usual. Status quo response: Lock. It. Down. And throw away the key! Noone better find out about it. So, medicate it, and let the life Force …wither. Best to let it become a secret rotting up our insides than face it and deal with it, meaningfully.
Bruised egos prevail.
What I now know for certain is that the strategy of running away from a thing paradoxically ends up creating more of that. Oh, but such are the laws of the Universe…
From where I stand, the strategy of lockdown simply does not work. The more we insist on locking down, the more the messenger intensifies. And so perceived suffering increases. Contraction and contradiction become a way of life. Fear intensifies. Mindfulness disappears while we perpetually hold our breath either bracing for impact or waiting for an external voice of authority to save us from ourselves.
Paradoxically, expansion happens in the letting go…
Expansion, the opposite of lockdown, happens in letting go of the habituated stories that leave us feeling like we have few options.
Expansion happens in relaxing into the messenger, allowing breath to freely flow, trusting “I am safe”.
Expansion happens in allowing the message of the messenger to be delivered, to be heard, to be validated, to be integrated, to be digested, to be metabolized.
Expansion happens in trusting the deeper inner workings of nature, of Spirit, of the Universe.
Expansion happens in letting go out preconceived notions of outcome.
Expansion happens in acceptance of what is.
Expansion happens in softening into the unknown, opening up the flow and possibility for potential.
Expansion happens in breathing deeply, mindfully, expansively.
Expansion happens in removing self from the tunnel vision of the trenches and choosing mindfully an expanded context.
Expansion happens in tapping into the internal voice of wisdom that operates from courage rather than fear, from mindfulness rather than habit.
Expansion happens in surrendering to the body, to the Truth of the experience that I AM rather than mindless capitulation.
Expansion happens from the fecund space of deep inner knowing…
Noone can take my truth away from me. That’s the everlasting power that I have, no matter the external circumstances around me. I know my Self. I know my Truth. I know my Mind. I know. And I trust what I know.
Most people “out there” would have a hard time identifying with what I jus said. It’s hard to imagine how it’s possible someone could trust their intuition so intently when stuck deep in the trenches trying hard to manage the circumstances of life, from the outside in, often feeling powerless in the outcomes. Because as per the laws of the universe, when we move away from we create more of the same. Content changes, but the context remains the same.
Yet, I know the power that I AM as Creator, from the inside out. I know I have the most intimate relationship with my Self, first and foremost. I know every single choice I make in every single breath is filled with infinite possibility. If I consciously choose to create my life, I get to live a life of meaning. In my world, the evidence is everywhere…The only thing that remains in my way is my own habituated thinking; the undercurrents that prevail and I’m not even noticing.
“Every Cause has its Effect; every Effect has its cause; everything happens according to Law; Chance is but a name for Law not recognized; there are many planes of causation, but nothing escapes the Law.”–The Kybalion. (emphasis all mine)
Fact: our species knows a lot about many things, but we lack the collective ability to weave bits of seemingly unrelated things together. We lack the ability to see the interconnectivity of it all. This is how we continue to hypothesize major bodily functions happen “willy-nilly”. Chance is a really good cop-out to describe all that we don’t (yet) understand.
But for me, there are no accidents in the universe. And so, I take everything that comes to my awareness as an opportunity for growth. Call it disease, call it discomfort, call it life, call it death, call it Covid-19. It really doesn’t matter. It’s all a messenger of how I’m choosing to live my life. And, it’s all an opportunity, in this breath, to make a different choice. An opportunity to make an expansive, meaningful choice that aligns with who and what I know mySelf to be.
Truly, I have no sense of responsibility over how another chooses to live; and, I am well aware that our culturally conditioned collective choices have landed us in the midst of the largest extinction on planet Earth’s history. Still, evolution has an interesting way about it…The old must die (be it habits, mindsets, paradigms, species) in order to make way for the new, more evolved that’s coming…I trust the evolution of consciousness.
I trust, that my only option is not mind-numbing and Soul-sucking pharmaceuticals produced by potentially the nastiest industry on this planet (and there are all of them).
“Psychiatry is probably the single most destructive force that has affected society within the last 60 years.”—The late Dr. Thomas Szasz, Professor of Psychiatry Emeritus
For those interested, especially if you find yourself suffering from mental health and are taking pharmaceuticals and find they aren’t quite working, I encourage you to watch this documentary. It presents an interesting perspective on pharmaceuticals and psychiatry (and the metaphor this is for the entire pharmaceutical industry). I get it, because I have lived it. And that defines my Truth…
To watch it in chapters rather than a whole chunk, check out this site.