barry robbins consciousness covid-19 emotions heart

By Barry Robbins

“Someday after mastering the winds, the waves, the tides and gravity, we shall harness for God the energies of love, and then for the second time in history, man will have discovered fire.” ~Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

We are living in an extraordinary time in which the world has been brought down to its knees. We face both rational and unrational worry, concerns, and fear of the unknown. Day to day, there is so much information that many are experiencing crisis fatigue.

The toll on humanity is both physical, spiritual, mental and highly emotional, as we ride the ups and downs of world-shaking events.

Many are familiar with the term “monkey mind,” in which the mind experiences an infinite range of uncontrollable thoughts, over and over. This concept also applies to the heart, as we experience a “monkey heart,” a multitude of repeated emotions over which we have no control. We experience 60-70,000 thoughts a day, and a myriad of emotions associated with each thought. Ninety percent of these thoughts are the same as the previous day and the repetition can be exhausting.

Are we stuck on this emotional roller coaster? Can we navigate through this crisis? How can we learn to respond rather than react?

Learning how to cultivate resilience during the pandemic calls for athletes to bring forth their already established, long-term training methods for dealing with high stress situations. This is something athletes are already hardwired to perform and by applying their practices to this pandemic, they can serve themselves, others and the world.

Athletes are primed to turn stress into performance and that can be contagious. This is particularly true on an emotional level and we can address the monkey heart through the practice of “Heartfullness,” “the exploration and skillful practice of our emotional nature.”

We have a physical body and also an emotional body, which has been shaped over the decades of our lives by multiple factors such as family of origin, traumatic or positive situations, friends, community, and world events, to cite a few. Although many feel this emotional body is fixed and unchangeable, we can grow and evolve into a new emotional body by engaging in Heartfullness, a series of transformative practices which result in emotional bodybuilding.

Before we can become resilient, we have to get stable.

The virus is a triggering mechanism that takes us into a heightened and aroused state, which stimulates the flight or fight response, characterized by the release of a hormonal cocktail of opio-peptides, adrenaline, endorphins and other electrochemical reactions. This state is also known as “butterflies” or “jitters,” where a person gets flooded and can’t even think straight.

Long term athletes learn to relate to these sensations as energy, transform them and attain emotional stability. In sports, the terms “fear” and “nerves” can often be recontextualized by understanding these terms as gifts to elevate performance.

Once you are in a stable and conscious state, you can recover much more rapidly and become resilient. Resilience allows us to come back to the moment and creates many options.

The practice of shifting your attention into your core or center serves to ground these physiological sensations and emotions, and more consciously use the body’s senses to convert this energy into higher levels of achievement.


Living in Your Body and Transforming

Consider an emotional reaction in which you were really triggered and allowed emotions to overwhelm and get the best of you.

Identify where in the body you experienced the emotion (use your finger or hand and point to the location), the physical sensations you are experiencing in that part of your body (tightness in the chest, shallow breathing, sharpness in the arm, etc.), and finally the corresponding emotions.

By being conscious of the location, physical sensations and emotions you are experiencing, you now have the opportunity to ground them and use them for some positive result. Do so by continually breathing into that location in your body and experience the effect as energy. Breathe this energy down into the center of your abdomen, your core, and visualize the downward movement.

The more you shift this energy cocktail into your center, the more grounded and stable you become. You can heighten the effect by extending your belly.

The more stable you become, the more able you are to be resilient and recover quickly, perceiving situations as gifts of energy and practicing full body awareness by noticing where and how you react in a triggered situation. 

Remember to be loving to yourself as all people have reactions to situations, both physically and emotionally. In a detached place, simply witness how your body reacts and become a good historian by noticing your reaction patterns and mapping them out.

Developing the ability to be your own compassionate witness is a major step in dis-identifying with an unconscious part of you. This particular Heartfullness practice allows you to hold these parts of you in empathy and de-personalize the emotions that are arising. It can serve as a springboard to creative thinking that comes from living in the present moment.

By engaging in the practice of Heartfullness, you can extend the limits of your abilities to empower yourself and others and use resilience as a tool for transformation.

Becoming conscious of being unconscious is an act of consciousness.



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