(By Paolo Propato, LAc) Once a Sufi Master was asked: "Who guided you in the Path?"
He said: "A dog. One day I saw a dog, almost dead with thirst, standing by the river's edge. Every time he looked at his reflection in the water he was frightened, and withdrew, because he thought there was another dog.
"Finally, such was his necessity, he cast away fear and leapt into the water. At that very moment, the other dog vanished. The barrier between him and what he sought--which was himself--melted away.
"In this same way my obstacle--my own self--vanished."
This past week I’ve been talking to one friend after another in Iran and Italy listening to their fears and their new reality, as I assess how mentally far behind we are.
When you don't know what to do... return to the basics.
So, let's review some basics concerning self care in the face of something simple and ubiquitous-- stress. Stress is going to raise your cortisol, disrupt your sleep and suppress your host immunity. Here are four tips-- so basic yet so important-- on tackling stress effectively.
A method we always go back to here at the clinic is helping our patients find their breath. This link takes you to a helpful video on diaphragmatic breathing, a proven way to calm your body and mind and improve immunity.
Exercise is essential to healthy lymphatic and immune function. The light, fresh air and sunshine as well as the exercise will also do wonders for your mood and stress. At minimum go for some nice long walks each day. Also do a little stretching, yoga or Qi Gong at home every day.
Set aside enough time to get sleep each night. All that diaphragmatic breathing and exercise certainly should help! Drinking alcohol will actually disrupt your sleep (causing that early am wake up) in spite of our cultural beliefs to the otherwise, and also is known to really suppress your immune system. Avoid screens and bright lights during the couple of hours before bed.
It's a time-tested stress buster and disease breaker. Play with your dog, your friends or kids, and go for the comedy and the light heartedness when seeking entertainment or reading material.
Just remember, when push comes to shove, don't abandon these basics-- they really work.