On this last day of March, I’m reflecting on what times we’re in.
Truly: what times we’re in!
I’ve written this sentence no fewer than 30 or 40 times in the past few weeks, but I’m still writing it, as I find myself at a loss for words. We’re certainly in times that are asking a LOT of us: from recognizing structural violence and witnessing wrongdoing to grieving through a full range of emotions and caring for ourselves and others in deep and sustained ways.
My counselor reminded me this week that we’re not just experiencing our own sense of fear, uncertainties, and anticipated grief from the Covid-19 pandemic. We’re also experiencing vicarious trauma and witnessing so much pain and heartbreak at this time. We’re collectively grieving and called to be both with ourselves and with others. In other words, we’re called to action from the standpoint of both/and.
So, what guides me during these times?
Earlier this month (and what a month it’s been!), I was featured in Agnes Scott College’s #EachForEqual campaign for International Women’s Day: a campaign highlighting alumnae’s sustained efforts of striving toward equity and justice. The person who assembled this feature pulled the following quote from my about page:
“We can’t just think our way out of incredible injustices … we must feel and act, too. We need our heart, head, and hands for envisioning and enacting a more just world.”
I appreciate the choice of this quote, because focusing on the heart, head, and hands is what’s motivating and grounding me in these times.
Why the heart, head, and hands?
In 2016, when struggling to find a name for this blog, a close friend and confidant said, “Beth, just name it Heart-Head-Hands. That’s your thing.” And I guess this was my thing, because my friend had seen me lead so many workshops and stop so many conversations to ask the three questions that continue to guide me:
Heart: What are you feeling?
Head: What are you thinking?
Hands: What are you doing (or able, willing, and ready to do)?
These are questions I’d seen others ask, and they’re ones asked when settling the body in meditation and other contemplative practices.
At a time when so many of us want answers, I keep coming back to questions. Questions can open directions and inquiries and the work of learning and unlearning. Questions can open possibilities instead of stopping with what’s immediately available or presently imaginable.
These three questions keep asking me to s-l-o-w d-o-w-n, to get clarity about what’s mine (and not mine), and to re-align with my commitments. They’re asking me to integrate feeling, thinking, and doing. And they’re grounding and guiding me now, in the midst of global pandemic.
I share these three questions as a journal prompt for these times. And what times we’re in!
May these questions keep us focused on what matters and help make actionable commitments to social, racial, and environmental justice.
Why not start now by dedicating some time to writing in response to these questions? Perhaps this writing will become a daily practice. Perhaps this practice will bolster us through hard times to come.
This post is written by Beth Godbee, Ph.D. for Heart-Head-Hands.com. For related posts, you might try “Living in a Global Pandemic, Reaching toward Collective Responsibilities.”
If you’d like support for processing, consider joining an upcoming lunchtime gathering: “Processing the Pandemic with Heart-Head-Hands.” During the hour together, we use contemplative practices and freewriting to ground and guide a conversation about how we’re experiencing, navigating, and meeting the individual and collective demands we’re facing in global pandemic.
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