What do we do when tragedy strikes?
How do we not become over-whelmed and numb?
Is there anything we can do?
Do you have a process for navigating?
Yesterday after hearing the news about the Texas church massacre I was of course devastated. Since the time of Standing Rock I feel there has barely been a moment where I haven’t felt like I was tracking disaster using online media as my news source. It can be exhausting. I am sharing some of the things I do to help me not turn away from suffering, and yet protect myself so I can stay strong. I wanted to post – praying for you – thinking of you – but it felt like I had done that so many times. What else could I do. So I wrote this post.
Yesterday, right before the news hit, I thought: What would my life look like without being connected to social media? I would find things out eventually but it would be later – and I wouldn’t be able to respond quickly to those I have been called to serve at least at this time. Responding is part of my work. We are the antidote. And where I can, teaching how to navigate the tough terrain of being awake during such challenging times.
Let’s let one another have our own experience, shall we? Sometimes when I share these posts about ways to respond, people write me back and tell me I should focus on gun laws and petitions and other aspects of the work at hand. Let me be clear here – it is not that I don’t take action in the world. Rather, I don’t expect my community to do what I am doing – so my choices are personal. Not everything I do personally is a teaching or offering for my community. One of the things I have to do is to stay focused on how I can support and empower the circles I have called. My sacred assignment is clear. Each of us must choose what each of us must do. What is right for me may not be what is right for you.
Resiliency actions are just as needed as activist actions. To be a peacemaker I must first have peace within myself. From there, I can take informed action.
I hope you will take the action of sharing this – it IS helping as people are already using it to open hearts and set boundaries. You can either share the post, OR you can copy and paste – feel free to also download the images.
Yours in loving kindness and presence,
~ Shiloh Sophia
This practice is an exploration in how to not turn away from suffering happening ‘to others’ in ‘other locations’. Clearly if it is in our family and town, that is a whole other thing and responses and actions are different. This is for things where we may not be near in proximity but we have learned the hard news and are often feeling helpless.
In time, if we can choose not to be helpless but helpful, we will actually experience greater resilience, but first we must feel. From the space of being able to ‘be with’ what is, we can then discover how to show up without either being numb or a savior. This is an invitation to choose to consciously engage with how we lean into tragedy. This is not intended to simplify grief, but rather give us a chance to practice and learn as we continue in this great unfolding.
All of us process information differently and each of us has to choose how to moderate the news of what is happening in our sweet world. It is hard to avoid while on Social Media – so this post is focused on that aspect of the unavoidable.
Note – This post is not about lobbying or contacting your government for change – that comes AFTER you process your initial shock. By managing your experience consciously – you *may* then have more space and information to take informed action. Use what is useful for you or modify. (We will continue to edit as more useful information comes forward)
1. Awareness: You see the thing announced – Allow yourself to feel what you feel – knowing there is more to come. Following that first wave of what is natural to you to feel, consider pausing and breathing – before doing a full search online. Just get the headline confirmed so you have the information available. Be with what happened in your awareness.
2. Self Care #1: Pray how you pray, meditate or breathe – do your thing that you do to get grounded. Connect with your own source, strengthen up your own connection, move slowly. It will all still be there in a few minutes so you don’t need to rush. Get yourself as ready as you can to know more. Remember the only appropriate action is the one that is right for you right now.
Then read what you need to read to be informed – but don’t read tons of things if you can help it. Find your own trusted news source for these kinds of happenings and go there as opposed to frantically searching. This may not be on social media.
3. Community: Reach out to loved ones you know are close to what has happened, gently, and without a need for immediate response since they are likely being bombarded right now with inquiries. Be present without being invasive. And whatever you do – try your hardest not to tell anyone in that proximity what they should do – example – hurricane: you should leave etc. Let the person make their own decision – if you have a story to tell that might help, tell it.
4. Connect: Connect through your heart with those who are harmed or in harms way. Perhaps in this connection with those hurting, allow in more space to feel what you are feeling. Shock moves into grief. Compassion is powerful. Let tears come. Don’t fight the anger or sorrow for a time – let your experience be your experience. Feeling something that didn’t happen to you directly is an experience of LOVE.
Send your love – as if you can see it going right to the location and those impacted. Keep that love flowing as long as you feel you can. Put it on your altar in some way. Those of us who paint, write, dance etc. – include it in our work.
5. Self Care #2: Just because others are in worse shape doesn’t mean you don’t have your own experience. You do – and if you don’t let yourself have it because you are comparing, you will have to deal with it more later.
Intentional Creativity® through journaling and or drawing could help here in any part of this process to move energy and receive insight into how you really feel.
Gently, choose, if you are called, to not to let this experience ‘stay’ in your body but rather move through you – even see it ‘moving’ through. Choose consciously to try to not let this experience trigger and then compound existing trauma. This will not always be possible. That’s why this is a practice. Keep your mindful attention on your breathe. Following, your self management in how you relate with this, you may be more prepared to take empowered actions.
6. Mindful Posting: MOST important following your self care is how you can contribute. This part is up to you and your posting patterns and ways and spiritual tradition. Connect with your intelligent heart so you are coming from the most helpful compassionate place for you and others. Think how what you post will impact others, out of respect.
If you are called, post a prayer or action or insight or inquiry on social media or the best online link to the information. Saying what you feel is part of your own story of connection to others. Following the initial news, if you are strong enough to provide support, do that. If you need support, ask for it and be specific with your needs.
Many also use common trending hashtags to show solidarity and to be able to find the others who are working with the same thing.
We are the antidote when we choose.
Imagine if those of us who are the love senders stopped
because we thought it wouldn’t work?
7. Gratitude and Sharing: Count your own blessings. Go find someone near to you and give them some love. Let yourself feel love and keep the energy flowing.
Artist Shiloh Sophia
with supportive ideas from the collective.
Intentional Creativity Foundation
Sparked by Texas Church Massacre