When things overwhelm

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The usually rosy start to a new year has been tarnished with the reports of the Australian fires and political crises. Here in NZ we can no longer pretend climate change is not happening when we are reminded by the smoky haze and surreal sunrises and sunsets caused by the inferno from Over the Ditch. This post is not about all that – you can read as much as you like about the sad state of the world online, on the telly and on the radio.

Instead this post is a reminder of what you can do when all looks pretty bleak. I reminded myself of this when I found myself groaning with sorrow over yet another harrowing story. It is easy to be overwhelmed but it is also easy to switch that mind channel to still feel the sadness and yet still do something proactive. This is how I stay relatively Pollyannish in a World Gone Mad.

Firstly be informed from sound news resources and limit your reading to 30mins a day. It is all too easy to spend all day dipping in and out of various articles of dubious quality on social media. Instead listen to one news bulletin and read one in depth article that will keep you informed. Too many just stick their head in the sand when feeling overwhelmed. You need to know in order to be part of the solution.

Secondly take action. We can do diddly squat about Trump’s shenanigans in diplomacy but we can all do something about climate change. Yes WE ALL are part of the problem currently affecting Australia. We can all reduce our driving on unnecessary trips, flights, shopping etc. We can join groups to encourage our local and central government to put climate change straight to the top of their agenda. We can dust off the bike, hop on the bus or walk. We can write emails to MP’s. (This might be why mine resigned last year… “not her again”. Take action daily in some way. Just dedicate 15 mins daily to action in some way and you no longer feel helpless. Some people choose to make donations but try to make change rather than mop up the problems.

Thirdly meditate. This might seem like a weird solution – how can sitting on a cushion change the world? Changing the world starts with you. Only you can change you. If you dedicate a small portion of each day to meditation your outlook, your interactions and your compassion flows out into the world. In yoga philosophy all our millions of daily thoughts are part of chitta, the Universal Mind or collective consciousness. Everything we think feeds into this. By clearing some of our own baggage through meditation, our inputs to the chitta become more compassionate, more proactive and for the greater good of all beings. You might not feel like you are doing much at all for world peace but loving kindness starts with being able to feel kindness for yourself and others. If you can like yourself and get on with your neighbours then you are well on the way to making this a better planet. If you are instead wallowing in doom and gloom and feeling helpless then this just creates more helplessness in those around us.

Be the change. Be the lighthouse. Or as said in the latest Star Wars movie, Be With Me.