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Response to Disaster Checklist

How to respond to a crisis in a calm and peaceful manner


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If you find yourself in the midst of a crisis, but not in immediate danger, you'll want to be at peace inside so you can be clear enough to listen to your intuition (which is God's compass always pointing you to the right place at the right time). Taking appropriate, efficient action to help yourself and others is generally supported by calm, and usually befuddled with fear.

Breathe normally - Slowly, deeply, consciously, gratefully. If you're still breathing, you have something to be thankful for. The breath is the link between the body and the mind, and, you could even say, the spirit. When it is peaceful, you are an oasis of peace, no matter what is going on outside you, or even in your own head.

Do the needful - Pack your disaster bag, and all that good stuff the emergency agencies recommend. Pray, meditate, and imagine that everything will be in the highest good, definitely. And, get your own act together so you can be self-sufficient and be able to help others if the time comes, not need help yourself.

Trust your intuition - You can't dictate the forces of nature, but you choose your own action. Listen deep inside for your own voice of truth. It will put you right where you need to be.

Appreciate the beauty of humanity - Smile at people on the street (if that's not already your habit!) Let your heart grow full with the tenderness of human love, which is expressed in so many ways during a crisis. Whether it's love that can be expressed by joy, as in a reunion of family members, or love expressed by yearning, as in the grieving for the dead, it's love. By focusing on that, you can transcend the appearance of opposites and dwell in the universal constant: LOVE.

Say what you need to say - Be totally honest and unabashed about your appreciation for the people in your life. If you have something you need to clear up, apologize for, forgive and embrace, do it. Even if you can't reach that person, a letter can get it off your chest and free you. At the risk of sounding morbid, these times bring us to an immediate awareness of how fragile life is. Sitting around with unfinished business gives extra mental burden. If you're sure that everyone in your life knows how much you love them, you can rest easy.

Limit media exposure to the necessary - It's fantastic that we have access to news, warnings, etc., but unfortunately they do sensationalize the most fearful news bits to get good ratings. It's no secret that they do this, so keep that in mind if you feel yourself getting more and more stressed out when you're watching the news.

Keep good company - Same as with media exposure above. People who are locked in fear can have an empathic effect. If you don't have the skills to uplift them into a different mindset, or if they're determined to recycle the worst possible scenario in their heads despite your efforts to focus on the positive, take space. You don't need to subject yourself to unnecessary fear radiation.

Witness your fear, but don't buy into it - Our biological imperative is to protect our physical body in the face of a threat, so it's natural to have a "me first" attitude. We can also, as conscious beings, maintain an awareness of spirit, soul, the life beyond the physical, whatever you want to call it... which diffuses the intensity of the urge to hoard, fight over the last loaf of bread, etc. Watch your actions from a detached perspective and assess whether or not you're operating from fear. If you want to, shift to a loving, generous feeling instead, and see how freeing it feels to act differently.

Resist the urge to be a hero - So often, people worldwide respond with fundraising campaigns, prayer vigils, and all sorts of expressions of support. This wellspring of human caring is amazingly beautiful. If you participate in it actively, do so from an inner core of peace, so that your action doesn't fuel the frenzy of fear-response. I was explaining to a friend last night as we did some mantra chanting together, that I don't pray for outcome anymore. My "prayer" becomes a lifting up into a reality, an awareness that everything is as it should be. That harmonious state affects the physical experience powerfully. When you pray for things to turn out a certain way, you're positioning yourself against the reality and fortifying your own experience of duality. Who am I to know what's best? God, the Maker, Spirit, the great equalizing forces of Nature... are so much wiser than we are.

Do your spiritual practice - Whatever it is that lifts you into the awareness that there is much more to this story than meets the eye... mantra, yoga, meditation, tai chi, reading the Bible, looking at a flower, take time to immerse yourself. It'll be a far more useful way to spend your time than watching the same news story on TV.

Appreciate life - Seize the moment. If it's not already your habit, enjoy yourself thoroughly, no matter what you're doing. There's always something beautiful to see, if you're looking. Discipline your mind not to run away with doomsday scenarios, but instead, focus on the miracle of life. Again, if you're breathing, you have something to be thankful for. We only have the moment, so enjoy another breath, and give thanks.

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