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Rev. Michelle's Message January 19, 2023

Last Sunday, I shared about a series of incredibly stressful things that have happened in my life over the past few weeks and how I used my Unity teachings and my spiritual beliefs to get through them. I hope some of my ideas may be helpful to you when your own stressful times occur. I mentioned in my sermon that I know so many of us have also had a number of stressful things going on recently such as getting sick, dealing with the storms and power outages, and all the other expected and unexpected daily occurrences of life. I got to thinking about stress and life, and specifically about the incredible level of stress we have all been under for the past three years. A certain amount of stress is just a normal part of life. But what we have been dealing with since the Covid pandemic first began in early 2020 really goes beyond anything we’ve ever experienced. Navigating all of the safety measures and lockdowns, getting our vaccinations and boosters, learning how to use Zoom and other technology to stay in touch, worrying about our loved ones getting sick, wondering if we would get sick….it’s just been so very stressful. Then you add to that all of the drama that has occurred on the political scene over the past few years, with an impeachment trial, endless hearings on various things, the attempted insurrection at our nation’s capitol, and the general state of divisiveness and vitriol that pervades all of it. In addition, there have been unprecedented incidents of gun violence and mass shootings. Finally, we are dealing with ever-increasing natural disasters all over the world, most likely the result of climate change. In our own state we have gone from horrendous fires to ongoing storms, with flooding and slides and downed trees and monster waves, lengthy power outages, and damage to property and infrastructure. I think it’s safe to say that our poor bodies, our nervous systems, our mental and emotional health have all taken a huge hit. It occurs to me that while we may be built to withstand the stress of running from the occasional wooly mammoth, we probably are not designed to withstand crisis after crisis after crisis after crisis. Think about it–every time we turn on the news or scroll through our social media feeds, we read about someone somewhere going through horrific tragedy. Even when it is not happening to us personally, we are still affected by these events because of our natural human compassion and empathy. Those of us who are empaths (like myself), or highly sensitive individuals, are even more impacted. Because of all of this, it is more important than ever that we take care of ourselves, that we nurture ourselves with life-affirming and life-sustaining activities, and that we learn to mitigate as much as possible the effects of all of this stress on our bodies, minds, and souls. One way we do that is by coming to church, where we connect with and uplift one another, engage in meaningful ritual, sing together, and laugh and learn with one another. This is probably one of the healthiest things we can do for ourselves. In addition, we need to make time daily for being in the silence, for prayer and meditation, strengthening our conscious contact with the God of each of our understanding–a relationship that will nurture us and sustain us through all the challenges of life. We also need to tend to our bodies, whether that be with exercise, gentle yoga, walks outdoors, time spent in nature, exposure to full-spectrum light, massage, breathwork, getting enough sleep and taking naps, eating healthy foods, and anything else that lowers our cortisol levels and allows our bodies and minds to rest and recover. I, myself, spent an afternoon this week at Refuge in Carmel Valley, steaming and sauna-ing and soaking myself into a state of total relaxation. Not only did it feel great, but I know it’s so restful and restorative for my body and mind. What are you doing this week to care for yourself? Stay tuned as I may be sharing more about some of my strategies for lowering stress in the following weeks…. Many Blessings, Rev. Michelle


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