According to the latest polls from the American Psychological Association (APA), over 80% of adults in the United States are feeling stressed right now, and nearly 70% of parents fear for for their child’s longer-term mental health and academic progress.
Those polled by the APA attributed their stress to a “constant stream of crises,” such as the pandemic, the war in Ukraine, and the costs of inflation. There’s no denying that we’re going through a difficult time right now. But I think back to the conversations that my generation had as children with our grandparents. Is the outward world more dangerous and scary than it was in the 1930s and 1940s? Or is our culture simply lacking some of the resilience, power, strength, and fortitude that we had back then?
The Lesson Of The Pandemic
It’s easy and understandable to blame our stress on outward situations like the Ukraine and the pandemic. But as devastating as these realities are, I do not see them as the sole cause of our anxiety as a culture.
Since we are very young, we learn the value of planning. We are taught to think strategically. “If my kids goes to X for elementary school and we do activity A, B, and C, she will land at Y for college, then bingo, Z nearly ensures prosperity.” Plan, strategise, and deploy.
Then enter COVID. The pandemic has made us pay attention to ourselves and taught us a valuable lesson: The best-made plans alone cannot navigate life for us.
A Practice For Shifting Awareness And Releasing Control
Two years ago, the U.S. Pentagon asked me to collaborate on what has become one of the most meaningful missions of my lifetime: the Army Spiritual Readiness Initiative. Now every young soldier can be supported through building a ‘spiritual core,’ to be fit and ready, mentally healthy and resilient when called to war.
This experience of working with the Army has shown me the life-saving importance of situational awareness (SA); the ability to see new information, innovate, and update the best course of action in a split-second.
SA reminds us that life has a voice and that there are forces greater than us humans driving the unfolding of our very lives.
When we don’t listen to life, when we plow right into the wave at 100% effort, we can get pummelled by it.
The solution is to watch out for the tidal waves of life and learn to ride on top of them.
The battlefield of life offers the same opportunity for awakening to a new way of being.
To get started, ask yourself: What is the great force in life showing me now?
If you are a spiritually oriented person, pray or meditate on the question: “Higher Power, what are you showing me now? Please touch my heart, my awakened awareness: what do you want from me? Which way shall I go? Please work through me.”
Note that these are not requests for specific outcomes, objects, or people. These are requests for guidance.
Awakened awareness allows us to ask “what is life showing me now?” It might be a new friend or family member sharing precious guidance information. Sometimes a Higher Power speaks to our heart through intuition, a sudden realisation, or a dream or mystical experience, which can lead to the understanding that we are loved, embraced, and guided by life itself.
One way to awaken our awareness is through using an elegantly simple practice called Hosting Council taught to me by the late Gary Weaver, Ph.D., a psychologist who worked for over 30 years with people who felt cut off from spiritual life.
I have shared this practice with thousands of people from patients and clients, investors in banks, Army leaders, homeless youth, top high school students, psychotherapists, and teachers.
I shared it in my book, The Awakened Brain, and I now share it with you with the hope that you share it with your own children or loved ones:
- Sit down. Close your eyes. Take seven breaths to clear out your inner space.
- Set before you is a table, an inner table. To your table, you may invite anyone living or deceased who truly has your best interests in mind.
- With all your guests sitting there at your table, ask them if they love you.
- Now to your table, invite your higher self. The part of you that is much greater than anything you have done or not done, anything that you have or do not have.
- Ask your eternal higher self if you love you.
- Now to your table invite your Higher Power (whatever word is yours … however you know your Higher Power). Ask if your Higher Power loves you.
- And now, with all of those people sitting there right now, ask, “What do I need to know right now? What do you need to tell me?”
The information that you receive from your council is inspired, real, and important. Its meaning can be discerned now and gradually over time. Who shows up may change as you travel your path, and you can ask different questions that might be in your heart. But know that your sacred council is always there for you.
The Bottom Line
Practices like Hosting Council allow us to connect to the spiritual brain that we all possess. They can help anyone navigate difficult moments – especially mothers and fathers looking for ways to support their kids. I’ll leave you with one way to frame this tricky time that finds a sense of solidity in flux: “The universe turned up the volume so that now our inner feelings of discordance and stress can be heard. Now we know how important it is to be connected to our Higher Power and care for one another. Although life might be looking tough at times, it really is a gift.”