By Mara Benner
Have you heard the Cherokee legend of a grandfather illuminating for his grandson the inner battle within every person? The grandfather likens it to a fight between two wolves – one wolf that is angry, anxious, guilty and resentful while the other wolf is peaceful, hopeful, benevolent and calm. In the legend, the grandson asks his grandfather which wolf wins. The grandfather replies, “The one you feed.” The Cherokee legend is proving a useful lesson in our current trying times.
Many Alexandrians are experiencing emotional turmoil as they move through the pandemic, with its implications on our health, finances and security, along with the soul-searching implications of the Black Lives Matter movement. Consider that Dr. Deepak Chopra, a neuroscientist and philosopher, suggests that humans have between 60,000 to 80,000 thoughts a day. Then pause to reflect on how many of your thoughts lean towards the wolf expressing calmness, hope and inner peace. Or conversely the wolf feeling anxious, angry or resentful.
Watch for symptoms to seek support
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that during the pandemic, there are important symptoms that would indicate the need for professional mental or healthcare services. Those include: fear about your own health and the health of your loved ones; worries about your financial situation or job; changes in sleep or eating patterns; difficulty concentrating; worsening of chronic health problems; worsening of mental health conditions; and increased use of tobacco, alcohol or other substances.
A recent study by the research firm of Kelton Global confirmed that “33% of adult drinkers are consuming more now than they were before the coronavirus outbreak began.” Of the respondents, approximately half indicated that it was due to the stress and anxiety related to the pandemic.
While becoming aware of the anxiety and stress is a good first step, an important next step is seeking ways to keep mentally, physically and spiritually whole during this time. Alexandrians have a wealth of resources available to them through consulting mental health experts or healthcare professionals for any immediate distress.
Alternative wellness options
Consider other wellness approaches to stay healthy and whole throughout the pandemic. Key inner peace techniques include: being outdoors in nature, eating a healthy diet and exercising.
You may then wish to augment your wellbeing initiatives with one or more of the following approaches. All of these techniques help to calm the mind of its anxiety-producing thoughts and rebalance the physical body to relax and support inner peace, among other wonderful benefits. The following are beneficial as resilience-enhancing tools for ongoing stressful situations:
Acupuncture: a treatment for a variety of conditions that triggers specific points on the skin with needles.
Cranio-sacral therapy: a type of bodywork that relieves compression in the bones of the head, sacrum and spinal column.
Emotional freedom technique: a self-help technique that utilizes the end points of meridians within the body to reduce physical tension and intense emotions.
Meditation/mindfulness: an approach to help train the mind through guided imagery, breathwork and awareness exercises.
Reflexology: a type of massage that involves applying different amounts of pressure to the feet, hands or ears to support rebalancing of the mind, body and spirit.
Reiki: an energy healing technique of placing light hands on or over the body to relax and balance the central nervous system for relaxation
Qigong/Tai Chi: a mind/ body/spirit practice that includes movement, breathing techniques and visualization.
Yoga: a mind/body/spirit practice that includes movement, breathing techniques and visualization.
Remember to always carefully check the credentials of any instructor or practitioner. If you are hesitant about the practitioner or teacher, seek another person to collaborate for your health and wellbeing. Likewise, compare pricing and offerings to ensure the services are in alignment with acceptable benchmarks. Finally, always check the reviews to find the common feedback trends to support your chose of practitioner or teacher.
While we may not be able to dissipate all the events happening in our nation and world, we can determine how we respond to the events. Which wolf will you choose? Begin your wellbeing practice today.
Mara Benner is the founder of Four Directions Wellness, intuitively connecting body, mind, emotions and spirit. The organization is affiliated with the GW Center for Integrative Medicine and offers complementary services, individual sessions, classes and consulting. Learn more at www.fourdirectionswellness.com.