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So many free resources online right now….!

What a great time to spend on developing a meditation practice! After all, even I can only watch so much TV – there are only so many new episodes of Outlander and Picard to watch!

Here is a wonderful list of online resources fro the Awake Network to help you, if you are interested: Online Meditation Resources

May we use this time of physical distancing to travel the inward journey!

A Message from Dr. John and Bette

In these present times, as we struggle with the Covid-19 virus, there is much uncertainty.

Our brains do not like uncertainty, and our brain stem reacts with fear, anger, guilt and sadness.  These reactions were learned thousands of years ago and were geared towards protection and survival.  Whenever we are faced with uncertainty, we become hypervigilant looking for danger and this triggers our “fight or flight” response.

Unfortunately, until we know more about this virus and until we are able to develop a vaccine giving us protection, we are going to have to protect ourselves through physical isolation and distancing while at the same time maintaining our emotional and spiritual closeness to friends and family.  It is this emotional and spiritual closeness which will help sustain us until our world stabilizes again.  This time frame is likely to be months rather than weeks and so we will feel better sooner if we can just accept that these physical distancing patterns in our society are going to be with us for a while.

It is important for us all to respect that one of the most effective ways of fighting this virus is to give it no chance to spread. This means that physical distancing is critical and is why the closing of so many gathering spots and businesses is appropriate. A virus that cannot reproduce (and a host – i.e. a human – is needed for it to live and reproduce) will gradually just die off as is what happened with SARS. This Covid-19 virus may be more stubborn however and it may not be until we have an effective vaccine that we can let down our guard.

Until this occurs, we may need to continue engaging in physical distancing and isolation as a means of not allowing this virus to affect us, our friends or our loved ones. This does not mean that we should avoid emotional or spiritual closeness. In fact, we need more of this to soothe our minds and spirits. Our body is strengthened by exercise and we can try to find creative ways to optimize exercise opportunities.

Anxiety is part of fear and most of us will have some degree of anxiety or fear regarding our own health safety and health safety of loved ones and friends.

We may find ourselves feeling angry.  Our anger might be geared towards the virus itself for its intrusion in our lives.  Our anger may be aimed at the government for its actions or lack of actions.  Our anger may be aimed at financial uncertainty and the potential for disrupting our financial stability and comfort.

We may find ourselves feeling guilty if we indulge in certain activities which may be seen to involve higher risk.

Certainly, there can be sadness for the apparent loss of love and closeness to friends and family as well as a grieving for current loss or perceived future loss.

Over the next while, Bette will be posting a few of my guided meditations on our website for your use. There are limits imposed by the website and so these guided meditations will be no longer than about 15 minutes. Although longer meditations may produce greater depths of relaxation, a shorter meditation can easily be repeated more frequently – one cannot overdose on meditation. If you find that an evening meditation is helpful for you to sleep, I might suggest that you do one meditation while sitting in your favourite safe and comfortable meditation chair. You could then transition to bed and listen again as you drift off to sleep. Feel free to repeat the guided meditations as often as you require. The goal is to turn down our “fight or flight” sympathetic nervous system response and revert to our parasympathetic (think dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin) response – i.e. our relaxation response.  By doing this repeatedly, we will be able to remain calmer, boost our immune response and accept the most necessary social changes.

Be still. Be strong. Meditate and exercise. Maintain physical distance but emotional and spiritual closeness.


Dr. John and Bette.


Overcoming Chaos – A Free Workshop

At times it feels as though our minds are on auto-pilot and thoughts swirl in chaotic whirlwinds. Meditation can help us calm the storms, centering and connecting us with the present moment.

Deepak Chopra is currently offering a free, four-week workshop called, “Overcoming Chaos” starting in 21 days. In this programme, Dr. Chopra will show you how to reconnect with your essential self, melt away stress and anxiety, and learn how to navigate through the inner chaos of your mind.

Need a little shelter from the inner storms? Try “Overcoming Chaos” with Deepak Chopra!


The Big White Wall

At our January 2019 Sangha, Dr. John mentioned the website “Big White Wall” – an online 24/7 site offering mental health and wellbeing services. Big White Wall offers self-help programmes, creative outlets and a community that cares. All contact with the site are kept anonymous.

If you need help, Big White Wall offers a support network and guided support. 93% of people who used Big White Wall felt better after making contact and getting help.

Big White Wall is funded by the government of Ontario. To learn more, go to Big White Wall.

How Small, Random Events Can Change A Life

Has a seemingly small event ever changed your life? Has a random meeting ever altered the trajectory of your plans for the future? Has a certain person come into your life –  (in a positive or negative way) – totally unexpectedly, and changed you forever?

Small, seemingly inconsequential events can occur that actually are not so small, or inconsequential. And when we look back, we are grateful that they occurred. If this has ever happened to you, you will relate to this video. And have the kleenex ready – you may need one or two!

Need Help Establishing A Meditation Practice? Here It Is!

March is Meditation Month at Tricycle Magazine, so to celebrate that, Tricycle is offering free, online meditations, videos and Facebook discussion to support you in developing a regular meditation practice.

Each week, a guided meditation will be offered with the intention that the content of each video will be a building block for the next week. The schedule looks like this:

  • March 1: Body as Foundation
  • March 8: Setting an Intention
  • March 15: Creating Space
  • March 22: Dedication

If you have been experiencing difficulty in establishing a meditation practice, or would like a boost to your existing meditations, try this offering during Meditation Month!

The Gift That Comes From Hitting Rock Bottom

Saw this article and loved it. If you have ever hit rock bottom and somehow managed to stagger your way back up, you will “get” this piece by Glennon Doyle Melton.

Mountains and valleys

Mountains and Valleys

About five years ago, I found myself in couples therapy listening to my husband confess he’d been unfaithful throughout our marriage. Boom! Life as I knew it—gone. There I was again in the valley, that place where you end up after receiving the news, whether it involves a betrayal, a diagnosis, an accident or some other kind of loss. You are suddenly no one because you’ve been evicted from your identity. You fall to the ground and try to remember: Who was I five minutes ago? What did I care about, what did I laugh at, what did I live for? And when will I be able to climb out of here?

A few days after the bomb dropped, I was in the supermarket checkout line wearing my rock-bottom uniform: stained sweatshirt and pajama pants, dilapidated Uggs. It had been at least six days since my last shower, and I was at my greasy-haired worst. But in a way, I was also at my best. What I’d come to learn is that most women do crisis all wrong. They hit rock bottom, and still they clean themselves up and brush themselves off, maybe even put on a little mascara.

Armoring up before facing the world is a rookie mistake. It turns out there’s no prize for being she who suffers secretly and in silence, unless you consider loneliness a reward. If you’re not okay, you might as well not pretend you are, especially since life has a way of holding us down until we utter that magic word: help!That’s when angels rush to your side.

So there I was at the grocery store, emitting SOS from every pore. And that’s when I spotted my angel. As I took my cereal, milk and bread out of the cart, I stole a look at the cashier. Something about her face froze time for me. Her hair was downy and white. Her skin was brown, leathery—the face of a native Florida girl. But it was her eyes that stopped me. They were cornflower blue, with deep wrinkles like rivers around them. I wondered: How has she made it this long? What has she seen? What does she know? I need her to tell me. She smiled and her eyes crinkled. I smiled back. She asked my name. “Glennon,” I said. “My name is Glennon.”

She paused and said, “Glennon. That’s a pretty name. I’ve never heard it before.”

I said: “Oh, It’s Irish. It means ‘girl from the valley.'” And then I looked down at my grubby self and laughed. I said, “Wow. Girl from the valley. I’m facedown in the valley right now. Come to think of it, that’s where I’ve spent the majority of my life.”

There was a pause. I feared I’d said too much, but she didn’t look uncomfortable. She looked curious.

She said, “Wait a minute, honey.”

God, I love it when an older woman calls me “honey.”

“Don’t knock the valleys,” she said. “Everybody wants to be on the mountaintop, but up there the air is so thin, you can hardly breathe—and all you can do is stand still and try not to fall. But in the valley, that’s where the river runs, sweetheart. That’s where all the power is.

I stared at my angel and thought: That’s why you don’t shower at rock bottom. So the angels know to do their thing. Sit. Breathe.

I’ve lived a life of extreme lows and highs. I became bulimic at 10 and spent time in a psychiatric hospital at 17. I became a drunk at 18 and got arrested a few times. I’ve written two best-sellers and founded a nonprofit that’s raised more than $7 million for people in pain. I’ve seen my name on marquees and bowed to standing ovations. I’ve also been called a fraud, a mental case, a heretic. People all over the country wait in line to hug me or curse me. I’ve come close to killing myself. I’ve watched my marriage crumble and then fought like hell to save it, only to walk away from it five years later. I’ve built up, then broken down, then helped revive the hearts of my three children.

My journey has consisted of yawning valleys and soaring mountaintops. And I’ll tell you: These days I’m a valley girl.

As my cornflower angel told me, we’ve got it all backward down here.

We want to be on the mountaintops, but we’re not called to be victorious. We’re called to be wise, strong and kind. We are admired on the mountaintops, but we are beloved in the valleys. All the magic is in the space between mountains, where we have to unbecome everything we thought we were and start from scratch. This is hard to do, because when pain comes in the form of uncertainty, our instinct is to scramble out of it, to grab blindly for the familiar. But when we rush out of the valley, we miss gathering all the wisdom, strength and kindness we need for the next climb. We have to learn how to sit by the river and be still enough to claim its gifts. 

Glennon Doyle Melton is the author of Love Warrior, a 2016 Oprah’s Book Club pick; the founder of the online community Momastery and the creator of the nonprofit Together Rising

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