The tragedy of the Boston Marathon has reached yet another level of intensity in the past 24 hours with the manhunt and lockdown that has forced everyday life to be placed on hold. Residents have been told to stay inside their homes so they can be safe as law enforcement personnel do their work.
The explosions at the marathon and the resulting deaths, injuries and mayhem were more than enough to raise one's anxiety level; the events that continue to occur today bring that anxiety to yet a new level.
While there are many experts speaking out with sound advice on coping with grief and the emotional turmoil that the people of Boston and the rest of the country are experiencing, let's not overlook an important resource.
Every one of us has some source of spiritual strength from where we all find meaning and hope in something in our lives. For some, it is a religious belief in a higher power, so the use of such rituals as prayer or reading holy texts and scripture can be a source of calm, hope and comfort. For others who are not religious, or engage in a belief system that does not include a single higher power, there are other ways to engage one's spiritual side, such as:
- Light a candle to signify that you are holding the victims of the marathon, the law enforcement officers currently putting themselves in harm's way find the person(s) responsible, your neighbors, the city and the country in your heart and thoughts.
- Engage in quiet meditation, taking time to simply sit back and focus on the quietness of your breathing.
- Participate in an activity that will occupy your mind with something that brings you calm or a sense of productivity: read a book, do a craft project, even clean the house.
Probably one of the most important things one can do today is to turn off the TV and radio. Don't spend the day with it on watching the news over and over again or listening to the reports. If you feel you need to stay informed, then watch for a certain amount of time, such as five to 10 minutes at regular intervals, no less than two hours apart.
Give yourself the space to experience your emotions. Remember that feeling anxious, frightened, sad, isolated, angry or any other emotion is absolutely normal. Acknowledge those feelings then -- hard as it may be -- let them go, at least for the time that you are able to call on your spiritual resources to bring a sense of quiet.
It is especially important to recognize that if you or a family member has experienced a previous grief, particularly a traumatic one, such as the death of a loved one or friend, that the emotions you experienced then may come to the surface and magnify what you are feeling now. Again, that is completely normal, and it is very important that you be particularly careful about the media that you expose yourself to now.
Spiritual resources can be often overlooked when we are faced with events such as those in the city of Boston this week. Yet they can be one of the best tools we can use. Take the time today to discover yours and put them into practice.
And know that others have a candle lit for you and are holding you in their hearts.