Develop Faith. It is important to remember fear feeds off uncertainty. While this time period can be very overwhelming and frightening for some, others are finding refuge and serenity through faith. With that said, faith does not have to be a religion. It is about believing in what you cannot see. This means although you might not be able to see calm and serenity right now it doesn’t mean it does not exist. Mindful practices provide you with a sense of faith and trust when practiced with loving intentions for self and others
As a part of my series about “How To Develop Mindfulness And Serenity During Stressful Or Uncertain Times”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Sherianna Boyle the author of Emotional Detox and Emotional Detox for Anxiety as well as six other books.
She is an adjunct Psychology Professor and founder of Emotional Detox Coaching® and CLEANSE Yoga.® Her renowned CLEANSE Method has been featured at retreat centers such as 1440 Multiversity and Kripalu Yoga & Health Center. https://sheriannaboyle.com/
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
I think some of the most interesting stories come from children. My youngest Emotional Detox client was seven and really resonated with the work. She was really open and willing to move through the process. Her insight and way of describing her emotions blew me away. Children really are old souls living in a little body.
What advice would you give to other leaders about how to create a fantastic work culture?
I think you have to appreciate your team, compliment them often, be clear that each person has a valuable part. I also think it is important to build in incentives that give people an opportunity to reach the next level, increase their income and responsibilities.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
The book, A Return to Love, by Leo Buscaglia, made a significant impact on me. It was the first self-help book ever given to me by my mother. I kept a quote from the book, “Love is life, and if you miss love, you miss life” by my nightstand for years. Today it sits on my daughter’s nightstand.
Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. From your experience or research, how would you define and describe the state of being mindful?
A state of being mindful is a vibrational state of feeling. Mindfulness is a state of non-reactivity. This means rather than react to yourself or others (e.g. through judgment) instead you are able to observe yourself and others without non-judgment.
This might be intuitive to you, but it will be instructive to spell this out. Can you share with our readers a few of the physical, mental, and emotional benefits of becoming mindful?
A state of mindfulness is when you see your physical body as a resource for experiencing states of calm, connected and peace. In other words, rather than view your tension in your shoulders as a sign that you are stressed instead you listen to your body and attend to its needs. For example, you might sit up taller in your chair (as this can strengthen your spine and capacity to breathe). You do this not because you want to get rid of stress necessarily (although that will help) but more so you are mindful of how resourceful your body can be when you care for it. You are also aware of how your stress levels impact others.
Since your body is one of the storehouses for your emotions (past and present) mindful practices such as breathing in the fresh air, meditation, yoga, connecting with nature, drinking water provides your body with much-needed energy. When emotions are left unprocessed (or ignored) in the body, it is no different than accidentally leaving the facet on in the sink. It is wasteful and over time will have consequences. Emotions are the same only instead of leaking water, they leak energy. Practices of mindfulness help you gain and sustain mental and physical energy so you are less likely to feel depleted, exhausted or overwhelmed at the beginning or end of the day.
Ok. Here is the main question of our discussion. The past 5 years have been filled with upheaval and political uncertainty. Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have only heightened a sense of uncertainty, anxiety, fear, and loneliness. From your experience or research what are five steps that each of us can take to develop mindfulness and serenity during such uncertain times? Can you please share a story or example for each.
- Practice Forgiveness. While forgiveness may seem like a huge deal, this can be as simple as, placing your hand on your heart and stating to yourself out loud, I allow forgiveness. One of my clients recently moved out of NYC due to the Corona Virus. She mindfully quarantined herself for two weeks. After the two week period, some of her closest friends treated her differently. She felt like they had little to no compassion for her as if her choice to leave NYC was a selfish act. After working with her, I told her this is not a time to make a decision of whether someone is being a good friend or not. Everyone is in high levels of reactivity. This is a time to practice forgiveness and know a crisis can either bring out the best or worst in others. Let it go.
- Release Control. When you feel uncertain, this can easily lead to behaviors of wanting to control. For example, if your computer suddenly started not working you might do anything to get it running again. For example, you might tend to it for hours trying to troubleshoot what is wrong. While this may eventually fix the problem for the short term, consider this, when stress levels are sky-high (especially during a pandemic) consider giving yourself a moment to release the frustration that is showing up before tackling the problem.
Behaviors of control often come with a “fix it” or “make it stop” mentality. Instead acknowledge your frustration, pause, remove yourself from the situation (e.g. go outside) and give yourself a chance to calm down (by taking a slow to inhale and exhale) before doing anything. This could very well be a sign that it is time for you to surrender an inner need to control what is happening.
3. Maintain a Routine. Routines provide a sense of security, consistency and stability. When there is a routine in place you know what to expect. For example, when you go to bed roughly around the same time each night, you can begin to expect that you will have enough energy to be productive the next day. People who change their bedtime schedules may find themselves reaching unhealthy ways to keep themselves awake and alert (e.g. coffee).
In addition, routines allow people to live together in harmony. When you live with others you get to know their habits and routines. As human beings we begin to predict and expect certain things to occur at certain times of day. When the habits are healthy and productive (e.g. meal times) this can bring a sense of comfort and security to a family.
4. Develop Faith. It is important to remember fear feeds off uncertainty. While this time period can be very overwhelming and frightening for some, others are finding refuge and serenity through faith. With that said, faith does not have to be a religion. It is about believing in what you cannot see. This means although you might not be able to see calm and serenity right now it doesn’t mean it does not exist. Mindful practices provide you with a sense of faith and trust when practiced with loving intentions for self and others. Here is the thing, faith cannot happen without feeling. While it might seem like you are feeling fear, I am going to go out on a limb and say you may not be feeling much at all. Uncertainty in the Emotional Detox perspective is frozen fear. So if you are overwhelmed by uncertainty consider thawing yourself out by tune into what you believe in, love, connection, kindness, growth, etc. Read books on love, listen to podcasts on growth or find small ways to spread kindness.
5. Release Triggers. Triggers are best known as a moment when you might get a charge or something bothers you fairly strongly. For example, if you see someone touch their face or avoid washing their hands you might get triggered by this. As a result, you might think terrible thoughts about that person or start wondering if they are sick. In order to create more serenity in your life it will be important to acknowledge these moments as trigger rather than play them out in narratives, reactions or stories. For example, if you get triggered by someone who is not keeping a safe social distance, rather than go home and rant on social media how disgusted you are with certain people, instead you might acknowledge that you are in a trigger and you are going to give yourself a moment to receive some much needed relief. In this case, you might close your eyes for a minute and breath quietly into your lower abdomen (so long as you are not driving). You will notice by simply acknowledging the trigger you will in fact help it dissipate.
From your experience or research what are five steps that each of us can take to effectively offer support to those around us who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?
- Care for Your Own Emotions. Similar to the way you would put your own oxygen mask on before attending to a child, the same goes for anxiety. Care for your emotions before tending to others. This means if you are worried about an aging parent getting the virus, take a moment to acknowledge your fears and concerns by tuning into your body and providing it with relief strategies such as repeating a mantra such as, “I am safe.” The worst thing you can do is try to calm someone else down when you are in high levels of reactivity. The process begins with you, not them. This is because people can sense and feel your fear.
- Reassure Others. Let others who are experiencing anxiety know that everything is going to be okay. Report all the positive and creative solutions that are being put in place. Reassure your loved ones that you are taking extra care not to get the virus. Reassure through hugs, encouraging words and by noticing the good.
- Offer Support. Let your anxious friends and loved ones know you are there to support them. While many of us are practicing social distancing, there are ways to offer support without putting yourself at risk. For example, you might drop off some food, or help them in other ways such as guiding them through the steps of filing for unemployment.
- Ask Them What They Need. Equally important is asking your anxious friends and loved ones what they need. While you might not be able to provide them with their needs, you might be able to connect them to resources that can help. For example, if someone is highly anxious you might help them find available resources in their community (e.g counselors, churches, community outreach), etc.
- Listen. One of the best things you can do is listen. For example, at dinner time ask your loved ones, What do you miss most? What are you worried about most? When they answer just listen. Listen not just to hear what they have to say but from a place of being and presence. Use mindful approaches such as monitoring your own breathing while you listen, sitting up tall and using eye contact. This will help you connect with others on a deeper level. Connection is one of the most effective, natural remedies for anxiety.
What are the best resources you would suggest for someone to learn how to be more mindful and serene in their everyday life?
I think there are a lot of great Apps out there. On my website sheriannaboyle.com and cleanselife.com, I offer a Self-Care Course, a Corona Virus Mediation Series, CLEANSE Yoga classes, as well as mindful meditations. I am also an expert on Simple Habit App. I would encourage individuals to listen to the Emotional Detox Podcast, a free resource with all sorts of tools and strategies for anxiety and other life stressors.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
My life lesson quote is feel everything attach to nothing. This was taught to me by the late Zoe Marae a wonderful, spiritual teacher. Sometimes I feel she had a hand in helping me write Emotional Detox. When she was alive I was so inspired by her teachings. Emotional Detox features the CLEANSE, seven mindful tools, for releasing toxicity while increasing ease.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
The movement has already begun! My goal is to get one million people CLEANSING (FEELING)again. I believe feeling is the root to creating a life of calm, ease and peace.
What is the best way our readers can follow you online?
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!