The digital age can make certain emotional experiences extremely difficult to move through. When loss, transition, or any type of event that can bring about mourning and grief occurs, social media and the overwhelming amount information on the internet, can make going through these experiences challenging in a way that previous generations did not have to deal with.
This past week, the world lost a person that was idolized beyond talent, but was inspirational for his drive, mental strength philosophies, and leadership. In connection to the loss of Kobe Bryant, many people felt impacted by the loss of children and parents that were aboard his helicopter, who also passed. Anytime a flying vessel gets into an accident that leaves fatalities, it feels tragic. But this, to the world, has been absolutely tragic.
Major stories like these, stop the average person in their track, and lead one to consider the unpredictability of life, and realize the limits of mortality. When we have big news stories like this, especially when the story is surrounding a major public figure, it brings up so many other complexities around grief.
Because we are human, we are connected; and we always have the capacity to feel pain when others, whether we know them or not, are hurt, experiencing injustice, or in pain. It is no shock that people of all backgrounds, all around the world, are being impacted by this helicopter accident, which will continue to be in headlines for the next week or so. Beyond this news, it appears that every other week, we hear of a natural disaster, politically motivated act of violence, or mass shooting that is tragic.
In light of not only the loss of the Kobe and Gianna Bryant, but also John, Keri and Alyssa Altobelli, Sarah and Peyton Chester, Ara Zobayan, and Christina Mauser, I would like to share 8 tips on how to navigate grief in the social media age.
2. Limit exposure to details of death.
Contrary to popular belief, details of death do not grant “closure” or ensure emotional composure. In fact, it may do the opposite. It may illicit fear, worry, and lasting fixation on how the person passed. As a result, your brain may create its own images which may replay causing you to re-experience the person’s death, thus creating difficult emotions.
3. Take alone time when overwhelmed by other’s condolences.
People mean well, around the times of death, however, sometimes you just need to breathe. Within the first 24–72 hours there is intense shock and grief. Handle your energy and attention with care. Its ok to take time to be with your initial thoughts and emotions around the loss, without engaging in conversation.
4. Memorialize the deceased.
There is power in staying connected to deceased. Everything is energy, and the energy of the deceased are merely transformed into other forms. Honoring the decease allows you to celebrate them and their connection to you. It also eases the pain of what a traditional notion of death and attachment looks like.
5. Feel your feelings & reflect on what’s coming up for you.
Death will bring up all types of emotions; anger, sadness, guilt, confusion, and emptiness. One can feel lost. One will likely feel in denial. All of it, is fine. Try to also grant yourself the gentleness to create space for whatever comes up.
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In my journey as a healer and someone experiencing healing, I have evolved into a practitioner that centers everything around a transpersonal and mindfulness approach. I believe that so much of our human experience can be shaped by our connection to ourselves, the world around us, and the power of awareness in that connectedness. A key to walking a journey of awareness and connection comes through reflection. It is in reflection, that we learn to really see ourselves and the world around us. In reflection, we can learn to honor ourselves. In reflection, we can learn to be our best selves. In reflection, we can learn to the ultimate powers of love in the form of self-love and acceptance.
There is a time for looking forward, but there is also a time, to sit in the now, and also, reach back into the past. The past is a great teacher. The past can be a source of power. The past can be a source of growth. So as the month, year, and decade come to an end, I want to provide some great reflective questions, that give you space to connect to yourself, honor and celebrate the 2019 version of who you were!
How did I live out my purpose?
What are major lessons I learned?
What relationships am I most grateful for and why?
What experiences am I most grateful for and why?
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Anxiety can be an annoying, frustrating, paralyzing, and completely scary emotional experience. According to the Oxford dictionary, to be anxious is to experience worry, unease, or nervousness, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome. Anxiousness can be a temporary emotional experience, or it can develop into something a bit more serious.
Experiencing anxiety can you leave you feeling overwhelmed and out of control. For individuals who tend to feel anxious often, it can turn into various forms of a mental illness (or emotional disorder) called an anxiety disorder. There are many types of anxiety disorders such as: Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, Post Traumatic stress Disorder, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Agoraphobia and Separation Anxiety Disorder to name a few.
Everyone experiences anxiety from time to time, but when it happens for longer period of times, more intensely, its important to see a professional.
Symptoms related anxiety and anxiety disorders look like
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The holidays are here, and for many, that means braving the mind, heart, and spirit to withstand encounters with challenging family members. As the holidays is often associated with family time, its important to note that its ok if you don’t have one of those families that seem ideal to be in the same space with. Families are made of people, and people have problems. People have hurts, blind-spots, wounds, anger, shame, and insecurities that they carry with them everywhere, and what better time for someone to release their unhinged troubles, than with family?
Many families have those members that just cant hold their opinions and judgement to themselves. There’s those family members who have poor boundaries, and are inappropriately intrusive, asking questions and probing for answers that aren’t their business to hold. There are the family members that tend to start problems. Then, there just might be someone you’re very close to, that tends to easily trigger the more unpleasant emotions within you.
For all these reasons, its important to mentally and emotionally prepare yourself to enter any of these spaces. There are ways to mindfully and intentionally engage with others. One of the key components to maneuvering interactions with others is being self aware of your boundaries, as well as those of others. Many conflicts are rooted in not being in tuned to boundaries. Either over stepping or not respecting another’s boundaries, whether intentionally or unintentionally.
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Working with individuals who have survived trauma, is one of my greatest passions. Research has suggested that 75%-85% of the population has experienced a trauma at some point in their life, however most people do not recognize certain events as traumatic, or they minimize the impact that such events have had on their lives. Needless to say, its pretty rare that anyone leaves this Earthly experience, unscathed by tough impacts of trauma.
Trauma can be experienced in so many different ways. You can experience trauma as a result of experiencing or observing physical, mental/emotional, verbal, sexual, or financial abuse. You can experience it as a result of institutionalization. You can experience it thru a major accident or natural disaster. You can experience thru systemic oppression. It can be experienced thru loss. It can be experienced thru neglect. You can experience it thru exposure to or involvement in violent acts, whether in your neighborhood, a business, in combat, on social media/online or in daily life.
Trauma has major impacts on the brain, one of many being a disconnection from certain emotional experiences. Because your brain is trying to preserve the parts of you necessary to survive and protect itself, trauma can leave you unaware of or disconnected from your emotions. For those who have experienced multiple traumas, especially over the lifetime or for an extended period of time, which is known as complex trauma, it can become even harder to access certain emotions. Trauma as its most simplified core, is an experience, that removes a sense of safety from an individual. After trauma, you develop hyperawareness around what you can do to remain safe. As a consequence, the human brain, creates all types of methods to help you maintain “safety”.
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August 8, 2019 marked one year since my mother passed. I gave myself intentional space of solitude from October 2018 to February 2019, to do as minimal as possible. I utilized my energy for work, rest, and self care activities. Self care included weekly and monthly involvement in dance, paint, therapy, life coaching, acupuncture, personal training and travel. In this time of stillness, I spent a lot of time in introspection. I allowed myself to feel the depth of my sorrow, and at times despair.
As a big believer in the therapeutic art of journaling, I constantly wrote about mental, emotional and spiritual experiences thru this time. It was necessary for me to constantly process what I was experiencing, in order to not be completely consumed by grief with an onset of depression on top of my normal depression experience.
As all types of fears, insecurities, and trauma based responses arose, I was intentional of asking myself, what can I learn from this? I was extremely emotionally fragile during this time, and I allowed myself the space and gave myself the permission to honor my emotional experience. I feel like most of what I will share can be applicable to anyone, but I must preface these reflections, by mentioning that much of the inner work I’ve done, has been centered on processing traumatic experiences, and relieving symptoms related to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. As a mental health practitioner and community healer, I have to constantly keep self care, self awareness, and wellness in the forefront of my life.
There’s many roles and responsibilities that I carry, and I take them all seriously. Self actualization and self love are very important to me, therefore as I’ve increasing became a more conscious and spiritually grounded person, challenging and removing anything that’s an internal or external that's a threat to my peace, freedom, or purpose, must be assessed.
So much has transpired in the last year, both externally and internally. I have grown immensely, releasing many unhealthy thought and behavior patterns, while also acquiring acceptance and courage in many ways that I found difficult before. In light of this growth, and in honor of the gift that loss brings, I wanted to share major lessons experienced since my mother passed.
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It has been over a year since I have posted a blog post on BE! While I won't divulge into a thousand updates on one post, I did want to share some news about what's to come.
Last March, I made a career shift, which occupied much of the mental space that I would typically use to write. The summer of 2018 was busy as I focused on my Coco Coalition events around the country. In August 2018, my mother passed, and of course, that was a big life event, which frankly lead to me pausing many of my projects.
From October 2018 to February 2019, I gave myself the permission to focus on what I needed to do, to have a healthy grief process. There is no "right" way to grieve, however, I do believe that there are instrumental steps to take so that grief does not evolve into an emotional experience that leads to maladaptive coping mechanisms. For myself, allowing myself to feel my emotions, be honest with those around me, rest, and challenge myself to participate in joy cultivating activities was extremely important.
My focus became self preservation. I was intentional about doing what I needed to do to sustain, and if possible, experience joy. I visited loved ones through travel, enrolled in my first love, dance, and tapped into my creative side by painting and coloring regularly. Boundaries were essential. Constantly processing emotions through journaling and therapy truly helped me through this time.
In so much reflection, I decided to implement some changes to BE. I'll be offering more reflective and personal development products, in order to continue supporting others on their journey of self love. I have a couple of journals and books on the way in September and October. BE will also be focused on providing resources that help others towards self love and overall wellness, so look forward to an expansion of the "Resource" tab.
I am excited to continue sharing what is going on, and creating content that empowers and heals.
Each year, 1 in 5 US adults experiences mental illness. That’s approximately 18.5% of individuals over the age of 18. Each year, 1 in 20 adults experience a serious mental illness that interferes with or impairs their ability to function in life. More than half of those with a mental illness are not aware and are undiagnosed. Let’s take a moment to really think about that.
When someone is coughing, sneezing, experiencing an itchy throat, or bleeding, we know something is wrong and will typically inquire with concern about “what’s wrong” with that individual. We see symptoms of physical illness and acknowledge that something in that individuals body is compromised. On the other hand, when we see symptoms of a mental illness, we either are completely oblivious, attribute the symptom to the person’s personality, dismiss it, or tell the person to change, stop or get over it. Would you tell someone with cancer to just stop having a compromised immune system? Or tell someone with an asthma attack to just fix their breathing?
I bet that’s a hard no.
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If I asked the average person in the US what routines and practices they implement in their life to take care of their physical health, something tells me at least 3 out of 4 people would have some answers. Even if they aren’t considered to be at their healthiest, most people can at least share general ideas of steps to take towards improving their physical health. If I asked the same questions, and replaced physical health with mental health, I’m not too confident that one would be able to share information as quickly or thoroughly.
With so much information about mental health and major mental illnesses available to the masses, why is the topic of mental health still not integrated into our thought process about general health management? It seems that mental health becomes a trending topic when an atrocity is exposed in the public eye, e.g. a mass shooting, a suicide or substance induced death of a public figure, and then gently fades from peoples’ attention until the next time. Because mental illness (not mental health) becomes a circumstantial topic, I presume it can only be understandable why mental health is a back thought, but it is a personal focus of mine, to change that.
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Sometimes what you “know” doesn’t help you or make sense until an appointed time. Sometimes you don’t walk in what you “know”. Sometimes, something can make sense or feel like common knowledge, and you just don’t connect to it, even though it sounds good. Sometimes, you share concepts and life wisdoms that sound good or are relevant to others, but those same concepts aren’t intertwined in your life as best as they could be. Sometimes its just easier to talk the talk, but not walk the walk.
Some of us spend our life collecting the many wisdoms known to human kind in order to live with the highest intention and clarity. We gather wisdom thru reading personal or mental development materials, acquiring formal knowledge through schooling, reading and memorizing spiritual texts, and going on personal pilgrimages with hopes of arriving to a higher state of consciousness. In recent times, I know motivational memes have become popular, along with the practice of collecting compelling and insightful quotes.
…our ability to KNOW a truth and ACTUALIZE a truth is not the same thing.
As humans, we are an extremely curious and analytical species. We want to know the answers to life’s biggest questions. We want to be equipped enough to live our best life. However, our ability to KNOW a truth and ACTUALIZE a truth is not the same thing. Knowing a truth (cerebrally understanding/comprehending a truth) vs. actualizing a truth ( spiritually understanding and implementing a truth in your daily walk) are two very different subset of skills.
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