Sleep With the Angels

As the deadly war against the Ukraine escalates and the pandemic doesn’t want to push back from the dinner table, I can’t watch the
news any more. I feel a little bit guilty about that. I used to be a news
junkie. MSNBC or CNN was always blaring in the background, I liked being informed, but somewhere along the line, it started affecting my mental health. When I paid too much attention to the talking heads, I started thinking about Xanax. I felt my stomach tighten, my breathing become shallow and my anxiety rose. I tried
to take in truth about the world without losing myself, but I couldn’t digest

Have you noticed that reporters dwell exclusively on disasters, including some that haven’t happened. Like predicting the mid-term
elections eight months from now. A lot can happen in eight months. After the Academy Awards, they showed footage of Will Smith smacking Chris Rock in the face over and over, while they overlooked other talented, kind people who had won Oscars. An extraordinary Russian figure skater fell on the ice during the
Olympics, she had never fallen before, and the only footage they showed was when she landed on her butt.

If we watch the bad news long enough, we become victimized by it. It seems to sneak up and suddenly and the world looks impossibly grim. But there are real things we can do. If you really care about the Ukraine and want to help, instead of watching the news looping over and over, you can donate money to a legitimate relief fund that helps displaced people who are suffering. You can forgive petty feuds in your life, they are in the past, and focus on what matters. I like to stop moving, get in touch with my breath and slow it down. I meditate in my own way and do what I can do be kind and gentle
with other people and myself. That’s what I want to put out into the world. If we can’t stop warring with ourselves and our friends, how can we possibly stop a war that is killing innocent people by the thousands?

When I say that the news is hurting us, I’m not proposing that we stick our heads in the sand and pretend nothing is going on. We can stay aware, but allowing ourselves to be barraged with negativity all the time, to watch constant suffering and fighting is like eating junk food. It has no nutrition and it raises your blood pressure, puts a strain on your heart and makes you feel listless. Then you’re no good to anyone, especially yourself.  

It’s a pretty simple concept:

If we breathe in toxic fumes, we become toxic.

If we breathe in fresh air, we become refreshed.

If we keep watching the bad news on “terror vision,” we
dream about terror.

If we turn our attention to beauty and creativity, we become

If we allow violent images to loop over and over in our
brains, we suffer.

If we focus on love and kindness, we heal.

It’s a delicate balance to stay informed without becoming overwhelmed. We have to watch ourselves carefully and see how the truth is affecting us. Sometimes life feels like a lopsided seesaw as we try to determine how much can we take in without blowing a gasket. How do we cope with reality without spiraling downward into despair? How do we acknowledge what’s true without becoming paralyzed?

I’ve noticed that some people are able to tolerate things better than others. But we’re not good or bad according to how much we can
handle. We just have to understand our own capacity and treat ourselves accordingly. We can help each other to be aware when we’re habitually taking in too many images of violence and suffering. The world is a difficult place, there are terrible things going on, but there are blessings too.

I was scheduled to travel to the Philippines in the eighties to study with the healers when the people went out into the streets and
rebelled against the dictator, Ferdinand Marcos. All I saw on TV were bombings and brutality and I wondered if it was a bad idea to go. I talked to friends there who said it was okay to make my trip so I did. When I landed and took a cab through the city, there were no signs of violence. The reporters had found the most remote places that have been in what they called a “holy war” for decades. But in the populated areas of the city, all was well. In fact, people were filled with hope. They had carried out “a bloodless revolution” and they had ousted the dictator with a minimum of violence.

We each have our own way of coping with the truth but if you
feel anxious and depressed most of the time, your way isn’t working. It’s different for everyone but I make sure to watch something creative, beautiful, or funny on television before I turn out the lights and head into dreamland. I traveled often with a mentor and friend, Lois Blackhill who blessed me each night before we went to sleep. She said,” Sleep with the angels,” and that was what I did. If you’re upset and off balance, take a look at your life, stop focusing on what’s troubling you and sleep with the angels. See you there.