The dictionary definition of hope is ‘a feeling of expectation and desire for something to happen’ or ‘a person or thing that gives cause for hope’. The opposite of hope is to be hopeless which is defined as ‘feeling or causing despair’, or ‘very bad or unskilful’. Out of the two I know which I’d rather be and yet hope is often viewed as a worthless or pointless feeling.
How do you view hope? Is it one of the evils that were contained in Pandora’s box, therefore a relief to know that it was not released when she opened the box and letting out the evils of the world? Or was it the one saving grace that she trapped in the box when she quickly closed the lid realising what she had unleashed?
I prefer the view of hope described by Dr John Messerly in his article about Hope and Pandora’s Box | Reason and Meaning that I came across the other day. “In the tragedy Prometheus Bound, the playwright Aeschylus writes that Prometheus’ two great gifts to humanity are hope and fire. Hope aids our struggle for a better future while fire, the source of technology, makes success in that struggle possible.”
The idea of hope aiding our struggle for a better future seems to be a good one. Hope is then viewed as something that motivates us to do something and to move us forward towards a better imagined future or situation.
I believe that a good dose of hope to motivate us to take actions, however small, to improve our lives and those of others that we share this planet with – including other sentient beings – is a good thing.
I recently reviewed ‘The Book of JOY – Lasting Happiness in a Changing World’ written by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu with Douglas Abrams. There is so much good is this book and I can recommend it to anyone who needs a bit of a boost in spirit during difficult times. I opened it just now at random and my eyes settled on this quote from the Dalai Lama. ” I hope this book will leave you with more hope and a sense of greater responsibility rooted in genuine concern for others’ well-being. ……………………….. In this century if we make an attempt with realistic effort and clear vision, perhaps in the later part of the century, we can really have a happier world. A more peaceful world. A kinder and more compassionate world. So, my hope is that this book can be a contribution toward bringing about this happier humanity.”
Both Archbishop Desmond Tutu and His Holiness The Dalai Lama thought it was worth writing an inspiring book because they had hope that they could play a part in making a difference in the world. If each of us try each day to do our small part in making the world a better place then there really is hope for the planet. This doesn’t have to be complicated or onerous. It can be as simple as smiling at a stranger or helping a friend.
We know, in our hearts, that what we all really want is a balance of freedom and safety for ourselves and those dearest to us. War makes us realise this. It doesn’t matter whether we live in Britain, Europe, China or Russia or even the poor Ukraine. Until very recently, Ukraine seemed relatively rich in both grain and natural gas. The leader of Russia wants those riches and so do western government leaders. The resulting wasteful war is very sad particularly for the innocent people of Ukraine.
We do not want our homes and fields bombed and our loved ones killed. The ordinary people of Ukraine are suffering because they are caught up in a continuing power struggle for their valuable resources between other militarily powerful nations. Unfortunately the people in charge of both sides, believe that they know best and they see themselves as the powerful father or mother of ‘our particular country’. This elected or otherwise surrogate and apparently ‘protective’ parent, backed by powerful economic and military interests, will promise, when in search of power, to keep us safe and protect our freedoms. Once in power, those parental promises are quickly overshadowed by the fear of some external threat and the need for firm control. At some point we all need to stop behaving like irresponsible children expecting our elected or unelected ‘powerful parent’ to protect us, we need to grow up quickly. Our safety and freedom depends on all humans living sustainably on this one planet. We need to share resources more fairly around the whole world, particularly food and energy.
We need a sustainable system for planet earth and ourselves if most of us humans living now are to survive the next 20 years. The climate is changing and people will continue to argue about the detail of why, whilst the planet slowly cooks. I think most humans can agree that these inevitable changes to the climate will be enough to significantly disrupt existing economic systems, including food and energy supplies, across the world with or without war. Some will claim that this trend has already started and is exacerbated by growing global political and social instability. The outlook could be very bleak or perhaps there is hope, because we do have choices.
In the past, many separate countries and even some empires have tried and succeeded in sustaining themselves and their GDP growth model by choosing to gather more resources from ‘other places’ and more recently by choosing to externalise costs to ‘other places’. This exploitation of what appears external cannot continue because it cannot be sustained. In the new interconnected global economic system there really are no ‘other places’ to exploit. We humans have just one precious planet to call our home and perhaps many more people are beginning to realise we must protect this natural, life giving, support system if we wish to survive and thrive. There is no ‘other’ we are all one.
Now people are realising that most of the technological and economic fixes of the past were only short term solutions. This was only effective for the short term outcomes for the next quarterly company report or the next term of government. Much of this short term thinking is underpinned by the flawed notion of endless economic growth based on borrowing from our future selves or future generations. A war is good for GDP! Instead of spending our next 20 years finding and punishing who is to blame for this ridiculous short term thinking we can choose to focus on new creative solutions which will provide a more sustainable future for us all. The apparent economic efficiency of the past is mired in exploitation of people and planet and what we need is ‘real’ efficiency based on more frugal and simple local solutions. We know that technological efficiency gains provide economic growth of about 2%. Trying to achieve more GDP growth than this will always result in misery for someone, somewhere, perhaps in a country near you, or one on another continent. By some strange coincidence 2% of GDP is what NATO expects member countries to spend on military ‘defence’. At some basic human level we know that fair shares and local sustainability is the right direction; we know this without the need for debate or argument or war. There is only one beautiful planet, for us all to share, in our hearts, we all know this.
I hope we can start to put this instinctive permaculture knowledge into action soon, Earth Care, People Care, Fair Shares.
I am about half way through reading ‘The Elegant Universe” by Brian Greene. It’s about the ‘String Theory’. (This is still a theory, but one that looks increasingly like it may be correct.) I’m finding it a difficult – and slow – read, but for some bizarre reason I am interested in learning about quantum physics. I say bizarre because I don’t see myself as a very intellectual or studious person, but something drives me to seek out and to at least try and understand – even in a somewhat limited way – what it is all about.
I feel that the quantum world (the very small world) and string theory in particular, is very important and holds the key to our understanding of how the world REALLY works – not how we imagine it works, but how it really works! I feel that if we can have an understanding of this, then we will have a better understanding of ourselves and maybe even a chance of making some better decisions as to how we look after our planet.
So for me Quantum Physics contains hope. It also feels exciting. It is really freaky and turns almost everything I was taught about the world on it’s head! That can be frightening too – as suddenly I feel like I am standing on shifting sand – but the most important thing for me is to seek the truth; to try to understand it as best I can, and then to use this to inform how I live and what I do.
One of the interesting things about the Quantum world is that it helps to explain many of the more esoteric ideas that have existed for millennia. Often subjects that have been deemed to be unscientific or just plain ‘woo hoo!’ It provides a deeper understanding of things like homeopathy, Bach flower remedies, meditation, sound and heat therapies, the power of love and much more! It is a metaphorical bridge between science and the ethereal world.
As I say I’m only half way through the book, but it would seem that the very smallest thing that scientists have discovered are these ‘strings’ that are the absolute smallest constituents of anything and everything. They are about a hundred billion billion times smaller than an atomic nucleus! Tiny!
It seems that these strings are constantly vibrating and that everything in the universe is vibrating at different levels. This has huge impacts for the future and I believe we will see vibrations in terms of light, heat and sound being used more and more to promote well-being and to treat illness. In the meantime I will continue to slowly read and learn!
Here is Brian Greene explaining the basic idea of String Theory, very clearly, in 3 minutes.
Strange title, I know, but these are strange times. I have often thought about blood, although as Ann will tell you I am not particularly keen on the sight of it, my own or other peoples. Squeamish, I think they call it. My worst, bloody injuries in the last two years have been to do with thumbs, one involving a large hammer and a rock, the other a dropped cordless drill I caught awkwardly. But let’s talk about blood and the wealthy modern day vampires.
Since childhood, I’ve always thought about what blood is, and what it consists of and how the condition of your blood might be related to your health. I didn’t do biology at school which might be a good thing because I’m not too constrained when it come to new concepts in health. So all of your environment and what you eat and drink in particular, effectively creates the physical you and that includes your blood which is flowing round your body. I say flowing around your body because whilst many people say your heart pumps your blood around your body we now know that that’s not the whole story but that can be another post. Your heart regulates the flow of blood so it’s more like a collection of valves. Your blood is flowing and while it does you are alive. The better condition your blood is in, the better you feel.
I have in the past thought about giving blood and blood transfusion and the fact that perhaps your blood being transferred to someone else may carry some health benefits and information too, or vice versa. I personally think perhaps the best blood to have transfused might be your own blood. For example what if you were to take some of your own blood when you were young, fit and healthy, say every 3 months in your twenties, and keep it for when you are old and perhaps a bit unwell? Would that be good? Would that be better than someone else’s blood, which could be from anyone?
Well some people, wealthy people, have gone one step further than the above idea now. What about just every few months having a transfusion of blood from a young fit healthy person, or perhaps just plasma from such a person? Not because you have been in an accident but because there may be something about “young blood” which makes you feel better. This might be expensive but if you live longer and are able to make even more money then perhaps you could live forever. In the “Land of the Free Market” you can now buy and sell blood through intermediaries. If you are young you can actually sell your blood (or plasma) for a few dollars a pint and that can be then sold to wealthy people who want to feel younger. So perhaps this is something you want to get involved in. Personally, I am too squeamish (and perhaps too old and poor) to become either the willing victim or the wealthy vampire but it’s an interesting concept.
But if you are interested, companies like Ambrosia(not the rice pudding people), Alkahest and Dr Dipnarine Maharaj are offering young blood and plasma services for between $8000 and $285,000 dollars per person. Perhaps the concept of one of the richest people in the world taking the very blood from one of their poorly paid teenage staff is somehow going a little too far? But hey these teenagers are doing this willingly, for a few extra dollars, it’s a free market. What the wealthy perhaps don’t realise or remember is what those teenagers get up to in between those blood giving sessions.
Next steps, make lots of money, create clone through paid surrogate, raise child in sterile environment, transfer brain into young body, live forever.
Do you ever take the time to be with yourself? The answer to this question is often no. Its not something we tend to consider. We are often good at making time to connect with others, but less likely to make the time to connect with ourselves. During the last two years of the Covid 19 restrictions many of us had more time alone than we were previously used to. For some it was a feeling of isolation and disconnection, rather than one of pleasure, but what I would like to explore here is the benefit of actively choosing to spend time alone on a regular basis.
I once worked as a manager in a college of Further Education. It was a busy job, more like two jobs really, and very different from anything I’d done previously. Within three months my diary became filled up with meetings – ones that other people had requested. I was hardly at my desk, and it was a real struggle to find the time to do my actual job. I was so accommodating to everyone else’s requests that I had no time to lift my head up and organise my own work.
I knew I needed to do something to ‘take control’ of my working week and therefore I decided to ‘book’ some meetings with myself! I did this at the beginning of each week, then when people rang to arrange a meeting with me I could arrange things around the time I had previously prioritised. Of course I could choose to be flexible about this if something urgent came up. It worked extremely well and I felt happier and more capable of managing my workload as a result.
I happened on this idea by chance – or sheer desperation – but this is actually a common tool for managing time effectively and can be used in any situation, not just at work. Prioritise the things that are really important to you and allocate specific time for doing these in your diary. Then ensure that you do it!
The above is about making time to do practical everyday things, however, the power of allocating time to be alone has a far deeper, restorative value. This is unappreciated in our western societies I feel, often seen as a negative thing and something almost to be feared, but on some level I believe many of us are craving this connection with ourselves.
Last year I was very lucky to spend a whole week on my own. It felt like the most luxurious, precious time. I planned for it, took a big notebook and lots of pens so that I could draw and write – writing is one powerful way in which I can connect with my inner self. On the first morning I planned my week, giving thought to what I hoped to gain from this special ‘time out of time’ experience. There is something very relaxing about following your own rhythm. You decide when to get up, eat, walk, read, write, watch a film, walk again, sit, sleep, meditate. At first it feels strange and a little daunting to have so much time just for you, but it doesn’t take long for it to be the most positive experience.
Not everyone has the luxury of a whole week to themselves, but it is often possible to find a day here and there, or at least an hour or two in a week when you can be on your own. This gives you the space to get in touch with your own thoughts and feelings. You can choose to use this time in any way you wish. You might decide to relax, have a long bath, read a book, sew, knit, sit in the sun or make a cake, write, go for a walk, but whatever you choose to do with this precious time – do it on your own – and begin to get to know the unique, special person that is you. Enjoy.
Spring is finally here in March 2022, the bulbs we planted previously, light up the dark green corners, show their many different colours, waft their varied flowery scents on the gentle cool breeze, attracting a myriad of early buzzing bees after their own long slumber. Gosh, this descriptive prose is difficult, I’m going back to my less flowery, usual style. I really love spring when its finally getting lighter, warmer and we can get on with things outside after a winter huddled by the fire. There seems to be so much to do in spring after we emerge from our retreat and a very necessary rest. Tree planting is my particular favourite at this time of year, a replenishment after all the wood chopping and burning of the previous winter.
We planted 4 small fruit trees this week, 2 cherries, a plum and a coxes orange pippin apple, in a new area of land, cleared and landscaped to mainly facilitate better drainage, parking and turning of cars outside our little house. After 10 months deliberating about the disruption a digger would cause, we decided it was worth it to solve the problems of the previous 10 years. We got a local man with a digger in to remove all the tumbled stone from the old barn, soon to be a new workshop/studio. We also got him to dump the combined mix of earth, rocks and undergrowth in a big heap ready for leveling by hand to create the new parking plot above the drainage channel. It took one skilled man and his machine 2 hours to do what would take us about 2 months. His digger buckets can be seen in the background of the above picture, they are about the size of our small car. Ann built a new dry-stone retaining wall with some of the better stone. The start of this can be seen in the foreground. Thanks to my Irish roots, I helped flatten the new area by hand with a pick, shovel and a rake. When we stood back and looked at all our efforts we both thought it looked much tidier but very bare. Some trees and plants were needed even if it made the car parking slightly more difficult. I wanted something with spring blossom, which I love, so why not fruit trees.
Ann took charge of the lavender, rockery plants, and pots in a newly created bed to cover the drainage pipework and I tackled what I thought was the easier job of digging some small holes for the new trees. We had hoped to get them from a good old fashioned market stall in Villefranche but fell back on Aldi when the stallholders didn’t show. The trees are a little neglected but we treat them like timid rescue dogs and imagine them being re-homed with us after being previously mistreated by an uncaring corporate owner. My conscience eased, I then dig the holes on our newly compacted rock filled car park with much less ease and cart barrows of soil from elsewhere to refill the holes. Throwing some grain in the hole bottoms, a practical and spiritual gesture, the previously clingfilm wrapped roots are released to rest atop of the soon to sprout grain, surrounded by some dark well rotted compost. I feel they are happy in their new home.
Substantial stakes, of tubular aluminium, rescued on their way to the tip provide luxurious support to our new fruity friends. We feel this is far better use of these poles than holding up a weather-beaten nylon fence around a chlorine filled pool of some very good but considerably wealthier friends of ours. Just to make it clear we didn’t steal these poles. Our friends have swapped to a saltwater pool now, which is much better, remodeled to incorporate easier steps and an alarm, so hence, no need for the previous fence, or poles. They are lovely people and always give me first refusal on things they may considering releasing to the local landfill and recycling centre. Sadly, as Ann knows, I’m a dreadful hoarder. In one sense I know the poles will ultimately be recycled after being sorted and smelted but to me it seems simpler to reuse such things closer to home if I can, than send them all the way to China. So, I am slowly finding different uses for 38 black painted poles at our place. Two of them went to another friend to make a water-polo net over another pool. We don’t have a pool but have many friends who do, even some with a natural swimming pond and its perfect to have friends like these especially in Summer.
The trees are now in and well watered, but there’s still an annoying bare patch, so another tree another day, perhaps, this year or next. The good thing about trees is that we can really never,ever plant enough. I think, globally we humans chop down about 2 fully grown trees every year for each person on the planet, about 14 billion beautiful, majestic, enormous pairs of green lungs, which were until that point, helping us and our grandchildren breathe. So my simplistic reasoning is I should plant at least 2 trees every year, just to do my bit, more if space and funds allow. There was a time Ann and I planted many more each year on a wet, windswept northern moor back in the UK but we then had 12 acres to fill. At least here the planting conditions are more favourable to us older humans if sometimes a little dry for the younger saplings. More trees, this is the sort of growth we want.
Spring, I really do love it, so much potential being shown by everything in nature. At this moment within the global non-natural systems there seems somewhat less environmental potential in spring 2022, although politically we are told things are looking up, now the pandemic is over. Growth, growth, growth, maybe of the wrong sort, the stockmarket is looking good. A global system that works mainly in favour of economic outputs can’t seem to ever afford a season of retreat like winter so the system requires permanent spring or preferably a never ending summer. Winter season and even Autumn, like an impossible debt we owe, is put off well into the future while we try to keep the economic Summer sun shining all the time. More economic growth will sort it out, we humans say, even if this means another war against the latest tyrant we have found to blame. Maybe economic growth, including military spending, really does raise all the boats, large and small. I tearfully disagree as poor migrants drown and the wealthy nations continue to fight over oil, gas and money.
Perhaps in this current economic system of ours, which we humans created, we could do with a voluntary autumn and a winter once in a while, a time for retreat and reflection for leaves to fall and maybe even some snow. Maybe winter is underrated and spring overrated. Perhaps it is a moment to stop this endless quest for growth for a while, to pause and think about how nature looks after itself and how it really looks after us. Can we, together with nature, create this new system, perhaps we can try, this year, or perhaps next?
The Corona virus seems to have led to many of us having somebody or something to ‘worry’ about. We may fear that people we love will become ill or even die. We may fear that we ourselves will get ill or die. People we know may be at risk of losing their jobs, others may be isolated and lonely. It feels like there has been a sudden increase in the number of people and things to worry about!
Worry is a feeling we are all familiar with. It is that horrible gnawing feeling in the stomach, waking up at 3am, headache and an inability to focus on anything for long before the worry reappears again. It is an exhausting circle of anxiety and concern and it certainly does not feel good!
This led me to consider why we worry and whether it helps the person we are ‘worrying about’ in any way? Is it even possible that it could do them more harm than good?
So, let us take a moment to try and unpack why we worry. I think worry is the result of our basic response to fear. We hear that someone we love is going through a difficult time or under threat and our first instinctive feeling is fear. Once the fear response is triggered in our bodies this sets a whole chain of reactions off. It is our most primal response and extremely useful for our survival, or at least it is useful when we need to run away from a lion or react in a physical way to a threat! It is our well known ‘flight or fight’ mechanism and has served our species well over the centuries. However, in our modern world it is triggered by many perceived threats where there is no neccessity to run or to fight! This is a problem because once the response is triggered by fear, as in the fear of someone becoming ill or dying or losing their job, the hormones are released and quickly enter our systems to enable us to react swiftly. However, as we are not running or fighting there is no natural conclusion to this situation and we are caught in a cycle of fear – which I would suggest is what ‘worry’ is in it’s most benign state.
I would also believe that there is a social aspect to worry. We worry because it is seen as normal to worry. If we know someone we love is going through a difficult time then worrying about them is a very socially acceptable thing to do. If you don’t agree with this try for a minute imagining a situation where you say the following to someone. “Yes, my mother is very ill at the moment, but I’m not worried about her.” It sounds bizarre. The next question would surely be. “Why aren’t you worried about her?” We are much more familiar with someone saying. “I’m really worried about my mother/sister/son.“ I think socially there is an underlying impression that worrying is normal and good, and not worrying means that we don’t care and is therefore abnormal or bad. Therefore to be socially acceptable we have to demonstrate that we are worrying to be considered ‘normal’ and a ‘good’ person. I also wonder if we believe that we are in some way helping the person we are worrying about by going through their pain with them and identifying with them to such an extent that we are almost living their experience?
Worry has its positive side. It can be motivating and lead us to take action, for example revising for an examination or seeking help for ourselves or helping someone else. However, the worry we are looking at here is the worry that goes round in your head, and your body; the worry that leaves you feeling exhausted and where no action is resulting. This type of worry is most frequently worrying about the future. As none of us can predict the future there is no benefit in ‘worrying’ about it, but of course that doesn’t stop us!
To recap, we worry because we are programmed to worry both physically due to our flight or fight response and socially because it somehow seems like a good thing to show we care by worrying. However, none of us like this feeling and it has been shown that chronic worry makes us ill. If we become ill through worry then no doubt someone will be worrying about us!
What can we do? I think we can begin by thinking rationally. Let’s begin by trying to answer the question posed earlier “Does worrying help the person we are worrying about?” Think about that for a minute. If I am worried about my mother becoming ill with Corona virus does this make any difference to her? It only makes a difference if I do something. My worry may encourage me to put things in place that are more likely to keep her safe or it may encourage me to write more often so she feels less isolated. This could be viewed as the more positive side of worry. However, if I’m losing sleep, ringing her every day telling her how worried I am or feeling so worried I can’t face ringing her in case she tells me she’s ill, losing my ability to think clearly, snapping at my husband and screaming at the kids, then this is of no benefit and is actually causing harm to myself and others around me. There is certainly no benefit to my mother who by now is probably becoming increasingly worried about me!
Can you see how worry has the ability to become an entity of it’s own? Life is such that there will continue to be people we love going through difficult situations. We cannot control this, but we can control our response to it. We can choose to be supportive and offer the help we can or want to offer. We can also choose not to offer help if we want. Most importantly we can make a conscious choice not to feed into the ‘worry bubble’. We need to remember that we can step back from our initial response of fear, take a deep breath and look calmly at the reality of the situation, and the things that we can control and the things we can’t. We can not control the future but we do have the possibility of controlling our own responses in the present.
I wonder if instead of worrying we begin to ‘send love’ to the person or situation we are concerned for. Maybe replacing the word ‘worry’ with ‘concern’ would be a good start? We are concerned. Is there anything we can do? Do we want to do anything? If we feel there is nothing we can do, then always remember that we can send love. Sit still for a few minutes and think of that person or that situation and send loving positive thoughts to them or light a candle and each time we see the candle think of that person lovingly. That way we are putting something positive into the world, we are also looking after our own health and we are definitely not adding into the ‘worry bubble!’
So, does worrying serve any purpose? Yes I think worry can serve the purpose of putting us on notice to ask if we can do anything to help, but no, I don’t think being in a continuous, state of worry serves any purpose whatsoever and the simple solution is to replace worry or fear with love. These times are giving us the opportunity to practice this and to make the world a better place, one less worry at a time.
Billions of dollars are being spent in the race to find a vaccine or even a cure for the Corona virus. Apparently over 70 possible vaccines are being worked on as I write. The consensus seems to be that it will be well over a year before we have a reliable vaccine, and even then it may be longer until it can be produced in quantity and deemed safe to use. It may also prove difficult to create an effective vaccine as there are several different strains of the virus. The opinion of many scientists is that we are going to experience more pandemics of this nature in the future. With all this in mind it would seem that we are going to have to find a way to live with this virus, and any others that come along, in the best way we can.
Countries are now starting to think how and when they can bring their populations out of ‘lockdown’. I live in France and this is the first day of our ‘release’ into the wider world! Many people are understandably fearful about venturing out in case they come into contact with Corona virus and this lead me to look at what we can do to look after ourselves while we wait for a vaccine to be developed.
Although there is much we don’t know about the Covid 19 virus, there are several things that we do know. Firstly, we know that several factors put people at increased risk of becoming seriously ill or dying from it. These are older age, high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, lung disease, cancer and having darker skin.
The reason age is such is factor is possibly because older people tend to have one or more of the above conditions and that we are all ‘in a process’ of dying so it would make sense that older bodies would potentially be less able to cope with the additional stress of a viral infection.
High blood pressure, obesity, maturity onset diabetes (Type 2 diabetes), lung disease and cancer are diseases that are often the result of our lifestyles and/or our environments. I am not saying that they are exclusively the result of lifestyle and environment, but these are recognised to be major factors in these illnesses.
There is some good news in this because it means that it is in our power to do something to reduce our chances of contracting viral infections. There are actions that we can take without having to wait for drug companies and scientists to come up with possible solutions. If ever there was a time to take our health seriously this is it! The healthier we are, the stronger our immune systems will be, and the less likely we will be to contract a virus, or if we do contract one, then the more likely we will be to fight it off without becoming seriously ill.
Before continuing, I want to come back to the risk factor of having a darker skin. People with darker skin, living in northern Europe and the UK particularly, have a higher risk of dying from Corona virus. Although not widely discussed in the mainstream media, it looks as if this could be due to a lack of vitamin D. Darker skin is unable to absorb as much vitamin D as light skin and so many people with dark skin who live in northern Europe have a vitamin D deficiency that they are unaware of. Vitamin D is vital for a strong, balanced immune system.
‘In 2009, the National Institute of Health warned that low vitamin D levels are associated with frequent colds and influenza.(CDC. Influenza (flu): the flu season. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/season/flu-season.htm. Accessed May 13, 2019.)
With all this in mind here are some suggestions of actions we can decide to take to reduce our chances of contracting viruses.
1. Get to know our true nature: Go outside! We are nature and yet for years the trend has been to think that we are in some way above, and even in control of nature. One thing Corona virus has taught us is that we are not in control of everything! With the knowledge that we are part of nature maybe it’s time for us to get closer to ‘ourselves’ and to get to know nature better. There are so many health benefits to spending time outside. We could create a garden, go for a walk, sit, meditate, eat, drink, even sleep outside and most important of all observe and see what we can learn from nature.
2. Go outside again and uncover! We all need to ensure that we have healthy levels of vitamin D. This is made by the action of sunlight on our skin. We can therefore protect our immune systems by ensuring that we regularly expose our skin to the sun. The message of the last 20 years has been to cover up and to apply sun cream. Of course we don’t want to burn and damage the skin, but we do need some sun on it. (Have your vitamin D level checked if possible as many people are not making enough.) It is possible to take supplements of Vitamin D and these are not expensive. Vitamin D supplements need to be taken with Vitamin K so that the body can utilize it properly. It is recommended that a supplement of Vitamin K2 is beneficial regardless of whether our Vitamin D levels are low as many of us are low in Potassium. (K2)
3. Meditation: Stop! We need to take some time every day to do nothing, to sit, to breathe, to be still. We can begin with as little as 5 minutes and build it up. This has been proven to be of great benefit to our health.
4. Exercise: Just do more! We need to move our bodies and get them to be stronger, more flexible and generally healthier overall!
5. Re-evaluate our diet. We need to eat more organic or locally grown food, with the bulk of our diet consisting of vegetables and fruit. We also need to reduce the amount of processed food, meat and dairy and particularly reduce the amount of refined sugar that we consume. (It would be advisable to remove sugar completely from our diet as it contributes to causing the conditions that increase our risk of becoming seriously ill – and many more illnesses too!)
6. Sleep: Get to bed early! Sleep is extremely important for our bodies and is often something that gets ‘squeezed’ in our bid to keep up with a busy schedule. This is the time when our bodies repair, remove dead cells and heal. Rest has been overlooked as an important aspect of caring for ourselves. We need to move rest up our agendas!
The above suggestions are not complicated, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are simple! I know the challenges of trying to eat healthily and exercise regularly, but surely if we need a motivating factor this is the time? I feel there is far too little emphasis in the mainstream media about what we can do to help ourselves and it is almost ‘impolite’ to suggest that we cause much of our own illness, but there is nothing to gain by ignoring the obvious and everything to gain by rising to the challenge! Times are changing quickly and there may not always be someone there to ‘mend us’, but we are capable of amazing things when we put our minds to it!
As I write Russia has embarked on what it calls a ‘special military operation’ in the Ukraine. Europe, and The USA call it war.
In France and the UK, the two countries I am most connected with, the restrictions people have lived with for the last two years in relation to the Corona virus are starting to be lifted. There is an air of ‘normality’ returning to our lives, and yet, nothing is ‘normal’. We have each of us lived through a very strange period in history, certainly within our own lifetime’s history. The experience of living with Covid has affected us on many levels and we each have our stories to tell. It is often only with hindsight that we can make sense of experiences and this will be no different. The perspective with which we choose to view ‘Covid’ will affect the way in which we live our lives going forward. Some down-time after a period of stress is important. We need to reflect, to re-group and to re-evaluate what it means for us. We have been told many things during the last two years by governments, the media, organisations, our friends and our neighbours.
Some have lost family or friends to Covid and many have been ill themselves. We have been told what we should do and what we should not do. When to cover our faces, how far apart from each other we must stand, how much physical contact we should have with other humans, how many people we should see at one time, when we should leave our homes and what we should put into our bodies. This is unprecedented and I think there is value in recognising what we have been through, and in doing that, to try and discover our own thoughts on it all. How do we feel now? Would we do it all again? What was it all about? Questions and a degree of reflection are important I believe.
Sadly it seems we are not to have the opportunity for the ‘down-time’ to grieve, evaluate, question and recuperate. As we are all too aware our attention is now directed towards The Ukraine and Russia, and in particular President Putin. The level of fear has been raised a few notches.
How do we cope with these feelings of sadness and fear? It almost feels too much for some. The television, radio, newspapers, and even our conversations with each other, all work to increase the levels of distress we feel and can lead to us feeling helpless and hopeless, not to mention terrified.
So is there anything we can do to mitigate these feelings while continuing to be caring, compassionate human beings? I would suggest that yes, there are many things we can do.
Firstly we can choose to reduce the amount of time we listen to the television, the radio and read newspapers. In doing this we are looking after ourselves; we are building a layer of protection. We are not being uncaring. The situation will not change because we haven’t watched the news every hour, or every day. It does not make us bad people. Our brains see the images and suffering on television and react as if we are there. No wonder we feel sad and fearful.
Secondly, we can decide to do something practical – or not. Both are OK. We can decide to take some action. This may be extremely practical action directly related to the current crisis in terms of doing something to help the people suffering. It may be writing letters, campaigning or setting up a support group for refugees. It could also be any other action that we feel to be positive and good in the world, hence the title of this piece. “Give to the world what we want the most.”
If we want the world to be more peaceful, then we can begin by being peaceful ourselves. If we think there should be more love in the world then we can be more loving in whatever way we feel that can be expressed. There are numerous ways in which we can put ‘good stuff’ into the world and it will make a difference. It will make a difference to ourselves as we begin to feel stronger in our belief that we can make a better world. It will make a difference to all those people with whom we come into contact as they experience the positive actions we are taking and it will ultimately have a wider effect as we add into the positive energy in the world. We never know the impact our small actions have. We do not need to feel fearful and helpless. Those of us that are religious or spiritual might like to pray or meditate, send peace and love and light to the sad situations that exist. All is of benefit to the world.
It is also OK to do nothing – by choosing to do nothing we are doing no harm. Maybe we need the time to look after ourselves; that is a good thing in itself. We do not have to respond in the way everyone else is. If we don’t want to fly a Ukrainian flag or change our Facebook page or do whatever the things are that people are doing to show they care, then we do not have to. It doesn’t mean we don’t care about the suffering of people in the world. If we know in our heart how we feel that is enough. We should not underestimate what we have experienced over the last two years. It is OK to give ourselves permission to take a break – especially a news break – when we can.