We’re all carrying a heavy energetic load right now. Here, how to usher out some of those bad vibes and welcome in the good.
The persisting pandemic has fostered a feeling of inescapable heaviness by exposing us to harrowing hour-by-hour news accounts, other people’s anxieties and an atmosphere of collective dread. “Anxiety, grief, fear — all of these responses are a normal reaction to the losses, anticipatory worries and major lifestyle changes we are all experiencing,” says Lia Avellino, LCSW, advisor of Head and Heart at THE WELL.
On a less dire note, being confined — with or without other people — can be aggravating and leave us feeling energetically tapped. "Some energy might be more challenging or stagnant and less beneficial to your system," says Valerie Oula, Director of Vibrational Energy Healing at THE WELL, who also suggests trying to ditch labels, such as "negative." She says that by softening something in our minds and language, we give ourselves more space to shift and flow.
Below, practices for how to move through the unpleasant stuff.
Modulate Your News Intake
Start by controlling what you can, such as your scary-news consumption. “Just like with food, bite-sized pieces are easier to swallow,” says Avellino. It's important to stay informed, but it doesn't help to have upsetting images and details playing on a loop in your head.
Once you’ve gotten the essential details, pull yourself away. “Begin to notice what ramps up your anxiety or brings you down into heaviness,” suggests Avellino. “What are your triggers? What times of the day are most difficult? Also notice what brings you out of these states into tranquility: Is it a sound? A specific interaction with a friend?”
By noticing how you’re feeling and why, you can get a better handle on what to avoid and how to soothe yourself. (Having trouble working through anxiety on your own? Join a small-group Support Circle at THE WELL, led by Avellino.)
Dance (or Shake) It Off
“My favorite self-care practice in quarantine is putting on my favorite dance track and shaking it out,” says Oula. “Literally imagine that you are shaking whatever is no longer serving you out of your system.” (Bonus points if Florence and The Machine's "Shake It Out" makes it onto your playlist.)
Animals in the wild often “shake off" traumatic experiences, notes Oula. And while it may not be a cure-all for humans, it can help you process some of your negative emotions.
Do an Aura Sweep
Start by either standing or sitting in a comfortable position. Take a moment to ground through your legs and feet, paying attention to the way the floor feels beneath you. Inhale as you sweep arms up, touch your palms overhead, then exhale as you sweep hands back down. Continue moving and breathing, gaining speed as you get more comfortable.
"Feel the inhale strengthening your system as your sweep up, and feel the exhale releasing and clearing as your sweep down," says Oula, who suggests repeating the motion for least three minutes to expand your energy field. End on an exhale with hands alongside your thighs, then take a moment to just breathe.
Chant Before Bed
Take a cue from spiritual teacher and mindfulness expert Gabby Bernstein and schedule your self-care. By instituting action, she writes, "you’ll feel a sense of safety because you’ll be taking charge of your day. You’ll no longer feel like the victim of the world’s events. Instead, you’ll feel like you’re part of the solution."
Bernstein suggests a number of practices on her blog, including a "Voo chanting" session just before bed, since the vibration from the chant can help to calm the nervous system. Find full instructions here, or try a simple chant of "Om" before tucking in.
Meditate a Little
If you’ve been meaning to start a meditation practice, here's your chance. Sitting still amidst the chaos can help you to process those aforementioned emotions and find a little calm. “Meditation creates the space and awareness for you to act instead of react,” says Oula.
Being cooped up during the stay-at-home order is a good time to involve your family or roommates in a mindfulness practice. Says Oula: “Meditating together, even for just a few minutes, is a great way to create energetic space when everyone feels like they don’t have enough physical space.” These additional tips on meditating can help you get started.
Got fidgety kids? Focus on the ears, which each have around 300 acupressure points that are connected to organ function or emotional expression. “Try massaging and pulling your ears — working the whole ear to relax the body and mind,” Oula suggests.
Burn Clarifying Scents
Borrow a ritual from wise, indigenous cultures and use scent as a way to clarify your mind and space. "Burning incense has long been a tradition in spreading divine aroma in the home and cleansing negative energy," says master bio-alchemist Michelle K. Gagnon, founder of BioAlchemy Olfactive and consultant for THE WELL.
"A simple way to enjoy the benefits of aromatic smoke is to smudge herbs or wood sticks, such as sage and Palo Santo," suggests Michelle, who adds: "In recent studies, the smudging of sage has displayed the ability to release negative ions into the air and help reduce bacteria levels. In more traditional practices white sage leaves have been burned throughout indigenous cultures in various ceremonial rituals to cleanse negative energy and invite positivity into the space."