Start or Boost Your Spiritual Practice: Tips for Surviving COVID

I’m here today to give you an update on the VERY interesting journey we’ve had with PCR tests for COVID for our family (PCR stands for Polymerase chain reaction, and it is a technique used to “amplify” small segments of DNA. My dad had a PCR machine in his lab at the Chicago Medical School/Rosalind Frankin University for Health Sciences). I probably tried to play with it when I was a kid and ran around the place, bugging all the scientists at my dad’s work.

But first, I’d like to talk about one of the most IMPORTANT tools that I’ve been using to “survive COVID.” Well, the tests say that I don’t have COVID, but I say that I’m the expert on my own body, and I’ve never experienced this type of phenomenon before (and my temporary loss of smell/taste, the fact that my daughter had a positive COVID test, and the fact that my husband and I can barely stay awake for more than a few hours at a time, well, I think it is COVID. The other really crazy thing is that I have not been outside in…nearly two weeks. Everyone that knows me would GASP with horror that I haven’t gotten my daily fix (almost like an addiction) to physical activity in nature.

What is that important tool that has replaced my daily nature-dose and exercise? MEDITATION.

Anyone reading this from my years in high school, college, graduate schools, and many training programs, business contacts, colleagues in the nonprofit space… well, you can all pick up your jaws from the floor.

I am the least likely meditator in the world.

I’m very left-brained, analytical; I dare say Type-A. I also am a total busy-body who needs to be moving around all the time. Walk, walk, walk. Talk, talk, talk. That is me. Until COVID.

And let me tell you how hard I have been TRYING to become a meditator. I’ve been reading the science for YEARS (well over a decade). I understand the benefits of slowing down, of creating space. I’ve interviewed top experts in the field like Ryan Redmond of the Flourish FoundationCathie Caccia, and Dr. Michael Brant DeMaria (he has actually been on both of my podcasts, Positive on Publishing and Mountain Mantras, and we did a wonderful Peace Within Masterclass together).

Before we moved to Sun Valley (over a decade ago), I was into Deepak Chopra and, while I didn’t understand what he was saying most of the time (as I listened to the audiobook at high speed while jogging, haha), I thought there was SOMETHING there.

When we decided to transition to mountain living with the intention of SLOWING DOWN, the universe got ready to play a joke on me. We moved away from the “busy” city of Chicago and to the “recreational” life of Sun Valley and…creepy creepy creepy, and I was soon JUST as busy!

Thank goodness I packed one of my favorite books by Jon Kabat-Zinn (Wherever You Go, There You Are). Yup, I brought my busy, busy monkey mind energizer bunny insomniac-self right to the land of supposedly-slowing-down.

Once in Sun Valley, I would hike and listen to great audiobooks about meditation (as if I could benefit from meditation by learning about it, rather than doing it). I remember a favorite was Meditation for Optimal Health by Dr. Andrew Weil and Jon Kabat-Zinn. They even have a “mountain meditation”! (tough to be a mountain, Kathryn, if you are moving at top speed!).

What started to slow me down?

First, I met the amazing Dr. Michael Brant DeMaria, who I interviewed twice on my podcast. I was drawn to his calm, centered energy. He also composes and plays beautiful music that is a current healthy addiction. I enrolled in his course “Peace Within,” which expands on his amazing book by the same title.

Then, I came across the work of Dr. David Grand, the founder of Brainspotting. I learned that I had plenty of “trauma” that I was unaware of. This technique, which I eventually trained in through Level 4 and the intensive (with the amazing Dr. Pie Frey), has been a Godsend in resolving many issues in my life.

Here is a treasured photo of me with Dr. David Grand:

I interviewed Dr. David Grand on my Podcast in April just as the pandemic was hitting NYC hard. We had an iffy connection, so please forgive the audio; the content is amazing, though.

I soon ran across a similar modality, the “RIM technique” created by the amazing Dr. Deb Sandella. RIM is similar to Brainspotting but different. I’ll have to do a separate post on some of my favorite modalities for mental health. Stay tuned.

And by the way, I also interviewed Dr. Deb Sandella, and our conversation was packed with amazing “mantras.”

Because we must get to where I am on this journey and how it can help you, I recently met the amazing Emily Fletcher, who did a 5-minute meditation with a mastermind group I’m in, and it changed my life.

I signed up for her course (Ziva online), and I’m only on Day 5! Yet, it has changed my life already. When I was having lunch with her at the mastermind, she encouraged me that if I’m already doing meditations by Dr. Joe Dispenza, I might enjoy her course, which is all about shorter but daily, consistent practice. I love that she has structured the course to include mindfulness (more focused, more left-brained, the “appetizer” of the course), meditation (the deeper healing and “main course”), and finally, manifestation (the “dessert” of the course, which I haven’t gotten to but can’t wait).

The course is also for busy (Gosh, I dislike the word “busy”; let me just say “full-lived, full-scheduled”) people.

It has already changed my life. (Did I already mention that? Yes). I know I still gotta “chop wood, carry water” in the daily activities of my life, from my full coaching and consulting practice to being a mom and wife, to running my household and trying my best to be a good friend, colleague, and family member.

The idea is that if you commit to this practice (only 15-20 minutes a day), you will actually be more efficient, productive, and creative for the rest of the day. Sold!

I breezed through the mindfulness-content days of the course and then realized I was in for a doozy when we started mediation. I received my very own “mantra” and have to deal with all of the obstacles that come up when I do my short mantra-based meditation practice.

It is like a massive mental and emotional detox. Not all sunshine and roses. Being the “fun” person, I’m going, “where is the fun!?”.

The good news is that Emily has me laughing quite a bit during the course. There are “bloopers” at the end of the training videos. She also had me doubled-over laughing when she went through the “obstacles to meditation”, describing the hilarious tendency I have to try to remember things that come through in meditation, “P is for Powerpoint (“I gotta remember to finish that presentation”), P is also for Podcast (“I have to remember to work on the show notes for my latest episode”). “PP. Pee-pee. Haha.” 

I’ve been doing that weird PP memorization (and other not-so-great habits) in my mediations ever since I really buckled down on my practice (at the start of the pandemic).

Emily is also a young voice in an old movement that is all about making it fit in, making it super short. She said something in a recent training call, a quote from a colleague:

“We will always find evidence for what we choose to believe.” 

If you believe you have time to meditate, you will have time. If you believe you don’t have time, you won’t have time.  

Huh. Can I choose to believe I have time? YES.

So thank you, Emily, and speaking of time, my life is really, really full right now. But something came across my desk today, and it really spoke to me. Marianne Williamson is doing a weekend (THIS weekend) called Women’s Wisdom in a Time of Crisis.

I have met Marianne twice and simply being in her presence is magic:

I CHOOSE to believe that I have time to attend this event. If you are struggling during this pandemic and would like to connect with powerful women leaders (think Marci Shimoff, Lynn McTaggart, Claire Zammit, and many others), join me in attending this online weekend event. 

I have also had the immense pleasure of getting to know Marci Shimoff, and I know she will bring a wonderful energy to the event.

Okay, one last photo – this one includes the mastermind women (where I met magical Emily, and there is also the beautiful Dr. Anna Cabeca and Kim West, who I’ve been gushing about recently. And many, many others). Ah, the power of women making positive change in the world!

About PCR testing. Here is a quote from a May 18, 2020, College of Cardiology peer-reviewed journal article:

The false-negative rate for SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR testing is highly variable: highest within the first 5 days after exposure (up to 67%), and lowest on day 8 after exposure (21%).

21 to 67% false-negative rate? That seems high to me.

Read the other posts I’ve made on surviving COVID:

Mantra #1: Let Food Be Thy Medicine

Mantra #2: Stay Well Hydrated

Mantra #3: Sleep is the Best Medicine

Mantra #4: Start or Boost your Spiritual Practice

Mantra #5: Ask for Support for Mental Wellness

Mantra #6: Keep It Out of Your Lungs

Mantra #7: Breathe 

Mantra #8:  Take time for personal/professional development 

Mantra #9:  Sweat 

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