I am not sure if it is reverse culture shock or if I am just dismayed at the state of America. The reaction is physical. There is a tightening in my chest, pounding in my veins, and a stiffening of my body. Returning to American life has its challenges, just watching the local news here can be panic-inducing. Yet, though things around me seem hard, I am determined to keep the edges of my heart soft. Here are a few conundrums and my salves:
Problems At Home
Inflation is easy to spot in America. Initially, there is sticker shock! A 5-year-old used car costs nearly as much as a new 2022. That is if you can get your hands on a 2022. Supply chain issues have created delivery delays. Thus, used cars are being sold for double what they would have cost 2-3 years ago. Housing prices in America have seen the highest year-on-year appreciation on record. There have been at least 20% increases in valuation in some areas. When I compare costs in Japan, they have more or less stayed the same over four years. Here in the US, most things have risen in price.
As more public services in America are privatized, the room for consumer confusion is high. In Atlanta, scammers are purporting to be the police department. At my mother’s home, I see (post) mail with misleading notices on the cover. Some notices pretend to be from a trusted health care provider, insurance company, or the federal government. Once you open the post, you see the words hedging or all-out different from the external warning. “You MAY be eligible for” or “please call one of our agents.” Lots of these advertisements would confuse an older adult in a hurry. It feels like everyone is trying to take a bite out of you.
With all this going on around me, I sometimes struggle to keep anxiety in check. I do not shrink from the world. But I am not too proud to seek help. These are some of the tools I use to keep my peace of mind in check.
I often notice that anxiety only builds up in me when I struggle internally. It is almost a catch-22. The door of the internal home is porous! So when I need to reconnect with inner peace, here are a few guides I tune in to.
1. A Spiritual Perspective
The Power of Now is a classic; I have gifted Eckhart Tolle’s work numerous times. It was first given to me during my PTSD. Over a decade later, I still revisit it and find bits of wisdom. To my above whines, a healthy dose of Tolle:
“See if you can catch yourself complaining, in either speech or thought, about a situation you find yourself in, what other people do or say, your surroundings, your life situation, even the weather. To complain is always non-acceptance of what ‘is’. It invariably carries an unconscious negative charge. When you complain, you make yourself into a victim. When you speak out, you are in your power. So change the situation by taking action or by speaking out if necessary or possible; leave the situation or accept it. All else is useless.”Eckhart Tolle
This friendly reminder about the complaining or misalignment with the NOW is a jolt. While I can take ACTION to resolve the concern, staying discontented with how things are is not doing me any good!
A new online sensation is Tara Brach. Instead of focusing on only cultivating peace, one of her essential tools is to turn into what is kicking off anxieties. Through her RAIN practice (and the book on it), she suggests that you R-recognize, A-allow, I-investigate, and N-nurture what is going on. This practice allows you to see what is bothering you and be with it. Often just being with the source of concern will alleviate the pain. By investigating and nurturing, you can begin to arrive at any unmet needs that require tending.
I believe that spiritual teachers essentially bring us to an insight that was already living within us. This traveling to the understanding helps us create a healthy space for perspective.
If lectures and books are too cumbersome, nature, green leaves, and walks in the woods are my classic calming practice. I learned recently that knobby tree roots can provide an excellent foot massage!
Of course, writing is one of my solutions. 😊 Just physically writing down what I feel, in a private journal, creates a bit of space from internal tension. When self-directed is not available to me, I look for a prompt. An excellent Instagram account, the isolation journals, often has good ones. Recently, I answered, what would make it worth living through the apocalypse. Hugs, sunrises, and shorelines for me!
Through my recent shock, I learned that I could reawaken my own lessons of resilience. From the private comments of readers, I sense that others are looking for some similar forms of resolution. I hope that this piece will contribute to some relief and bring understanding to lessen someone else’s trouble.
Wishing you all a Zen-full day!