Responses vs Reactions

It has been a while since I sent out a newsletter. Not sure why – I guess because I’ve been on a roller coaster, like so many of us living in this turbulent environment. The world is in upheaval and a day doesn’t go by where you don’t feel the energy of it. Even if we stay away from the news, which is difficult, we can still sense the energy of turmoil in all the people we are in contact with.

Many of us have been on high alert, our stress responses have been working overtime. 70% of us live with chronic stress on a good day, and I am sure that number is higher now.

I was reading an e-mail from a friend, an acupuncturist and Qigong teacher, and she inspired me to write and share some of her words with you.

Here are the wise words from my friend Lauri McKean; “There is another level of chaos and unrest erupting in our world and I know many of us are experiencing a heightened range of emotions and concerns. Outrage, sadness, indignation, anger, guilt, hopelessness, fear, worry, sorrow, shame, helplessness, concern, disbelief… All of these have been present for me over the past 5 days. You too?

Confusion and disharmony

Yet, I’ve also been able to rest into a foundation of inner peace, internal power, calm, compassion, and understanding. And my sense is that these aren’t covering up the other emotions – or suppressing them. Instead, there’s a sense of allowing all of these emotions to express inside of me (and inform me) but not create a deep pit in which I get caught.

For me, this has been the greatest gift of my Qigong practice – being able to fully be with the full range of emotions without getting swallowed by them. And I believe this not only helps me but is beneficial to the world around me.

Why? Because in my experience, when we are swallowed by the energetic charge of emotions, we tend to react. When we are connected to our internal energetic core (and power) the emotions inform us but keep moving. With these internal conditions set, we are more likely to respond. Responses are generally much more grounded and effective than reactions.”

I have been sharing something similar for some time. We cannot control our emotions or anything else for that matter. The only thing we have control over is our reactions to our emotions and the things that are happening around us. I love the beautiful way she defines the difference between responding and reacting. I am going to focus on the distinction and attempt to be aware of my reactions, and allow for more grounded response.

We want our emotions. We want to feel. Emotions are the information from our internal aspects that direct our lives. Our emotions, the good, the bad, and the ugly, are a beautiful gift of living this life.

What are some healthy responses to stress and overwhelm? Anything that lowers stress reactions. Exercise and movement of all kinds, connecting with nature, meditation, prayer, and laughing are all good strategies. Yawning and stretching frequently, like what you do on arising, calms the nervous system. Follow by rubbing your hands together sensuously. Sensuous sensations keep us in the moment, the place where we are able to respond to our environment.

I have been dealing with my emotions by focusing on boosting my immunity with meditation and prayer, journaling, and connecting with my children. I attend an on-line dance class and am taking a Qigong class with Lauri. I have painted my bedroom and my basement office. I have my sewing room set-up for the first time in a year after I had to pack it all up for a basement waterproofing project.

What is working for you?

Lauri concluded her e-mail with these words; “Although I’m not going to pretend to know the internal energetic dynamics of other people, the outward expression of Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. exemplifies this to me: strong internal core dynamics that supported powerful responses that changed nations.

So, I invite you to consider and feel into this – especially now. Here are a couple of the questions I am considering at this moment. How can I be present to the magnitude of the pain caused by racism without being swallowed by it? How can I create an empowered response that serves the greater good? What do I need to change in myself in order for this to happen?

I add, how can I be present to the magnitude of death and illness from Covid-19 in the world without being engulfed by it? How can I create an empowered response in my own immune system? What do I need to change within myself for this to happen?

If you are interested in contacting Lauri to take some great training in Qigong, here is a contact email:

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