“While the ‘suddenlies’ of life are unavoidable, when they appear in front of you, it can be helpful to draw on memories of times in the past when you got through something you thought would crush you. Doing so can help you find the courage to trust that this too shall pass and you will be up for the challenges ahead.”
Often when I lead workshops with people who want to learn how to become shamanic practitioners, I end with having everyone sit in a circle and complete a story I begin that starts, “Once upon a time, a group of people came together …” I pass a rattle to the person on my left, signaling that it’s their turn to continue the story. When they have added to it, they pass the rattle onto the next person until it makes its way around the circle and back to me, who completes the story. I admit that it’s tempting to end with “And they all lived happily ever after.” Isn’t that how we want all stories to end? Instead, I end with “And then suddenly …”
I do this to remind people that there are always going to be suddenlies—unexpected moments when we realize that life has changed dramatically.
All around the world, people are dealing with suddenlies, having to discard their everyday routines and contemplate the unknown. What will tomorrow look like, or next week, or next month? How can we find safety and security in the midst of so much uncertainty?
Recently, just a month after having a stress echo test that showed no heart problems, I developed some heart symptoms so concerning that I went to an ER. After examining me, the doctors told me they saw no evidence of a heart problem. I was vacationing out of state, and when I got home a week later, I was still concerned, so I went to an ER again. Now I learned that my instincts had been right after all: I needed bypass surgery as soon as possible and had to clear my schedule completely to prioritize my health. I was reminded that suddenlies can happen with little or no warning. And then, like millions globally, I had to face a new universal suddenly: the need to reduce my contact with large numbers of people until the coronavirus is contained.
When faced with a suddenly, practices such as meditating, doing qigong or tai chi, taking shamanic journeys, and doing shamanic ceremonies and rituals can help us to do several things:
- They can help us calm our thoughts and fears instead of letting them run away from us.
- They can help us reconnect with Source for strength and courage. As we set our intention to co-create health and wellbeing for ourselves, our families and friends, and our communities, Source will be there to collaborate with us.
- They can help us access unconscious aspects of ourselves that can offer us helpful energy and information. Then we can more easily make decisions in light of the new reality we’re confronting. We can learn to be guided by not just external facts (which can shift suddenly) but also by our internal knowing as we strive to cope with the suddenlies.
While the suddenlies of life are unavoidable, when they appear in front of you, it can be helpful to draw on memories of times in the past when you got through something you thought would crush you. Doing so can help you find the courage to trust that this too shall pass and you will be up for the challenges ahead. Think about where has your strength has come from when faced with a suddenly in the past. Is there something you can do, or make happen more often, to remind yourself of your strength that has gotten you through a suddenly?
Release your fears so courage and optimism can take their place. You can do this by simply setting the intention to do so, closing your eyes, quieting the busy activity of your mind to focus on your intention, and opening to the possibility of shifting your emotional state and mindset. Continue until you feel a shift.
You can also dialogue with your fear. Ask it, “Is there a message you have for me?” and wait for the answer. Then ask, “What I can do for you to have a better relationship with you?” Fear serves a purpose. Maybe you are meant to feel it for a time to become more aware of something that you need to change or to accept. Listen to what your fear has to tell you, and then ask it, “What can you give me to help me have a better relationship with you?” Fear might have an insight for you or an energy (or both) that you can use to help you deal with a suddenly. If fear offers you a gift, showing you an image or giving you helpful words, use your hands to sweep the image or words into your body and energy field, intuiting where to place it with your hands or your intention. Thank your fear for helping you.
Suddenlies will pass. Then, more suddenlies will come. Developing a new relationship with your fear can help you face the challenge of dealing with any suddenly that shows up.
For more of Carl’s writing, read his story “Engage Nature’s Healing Properties.”