Elizabeth Richardson / Inspiration  / Doors closed, mind opened

Doors closed, mind opened

Covid-19, the pandemic affecting the health of our minds. I decided to dedicate an article series to sustaining your mental health through self discovery. My love of reading has carried me through the darkest times of my life. I hope this article can inspire you to do the same.

“How are you holding up?” The common phrase for ‘Hello’ these days. Many of us are a little in our head & even further in the news. Some of us are diving into our yoga practice and even more of us a new book, or a few, like myself. I’ve been phoning friends to see what they’re up to, particularly pick their brains about their reading. Here’s what happened when I rang Keith Mitchell; retired NFL player, published author, and mediation leader.

Me: How are you holding up?

Keith: My day has been typical; I create my home as a sanctuary. I typically start and end my day with lecture. I love psychology; the study of the mind and new thought, hence the reason I teach contemplation in which we call “mindfulness.” As far as diet, I’m trained under the way of Dr Sebi, so my eating patterns are between 12–2 for my first meal, and my second is before 8pm. As far as movement, I have been doing a lot of functional bodyweight exercises in the back yard in which I’m surrounded by flowers. It’s been incredible to have the rest of the world come to my level; I feel in peace.

Me: I love when you say it’s nice to have the rest of the world come to your level. What do you mean by that?

Keith: Think on these things: understanding the influence of conditions, how do we begin to work to create what we want? We need to stop existing linear in the world. It simply does not work that way. Those of us with a meditation practice, don’t practice for the good times we practice for when shit hits the fan. We prepare for the storm.

I have been spending time going into this thought of Dichotomous thinking. It’s also referred to as black or white thinking. This is seeing things, situations, relationships, and experiences as either perfect or failure. Since people with this way of thinking do not see gray areas, they often end up disappointed or frustrated. As we make it through this experience we are having, we must make progress. We must realize the greater picture is to know that we are similar, or as Ram Das quoted, “walking each other home.”

Me: Its always interested me, the books that you choose to study. I defiantly feel it’s an appropriate time for everyone to look at their circumstances from different perspectives; as many as possible. Which book would you say was a part of a major turning point in your life and why?

KeithThe Art of Loving -Erich Fromm –looking at my emotional state as a science– .With emotions you cannot find the bottom, emotions want to rationalize. Seeing it as a science makes you the observer, you can begin to see what you truly are. Only then can you make decisions of where you want to go. When we can see our ideas around love as a science, it allows the emotions to subside. It allows us to see truly where we are with this term “love”, and know more about how we get there as well.

Me: I read an article recently about Covid-19 where licensed therapist Thema Bryant Davis says, “The myth that we should hold someone else’s suffering as greater than ours prevents us from honoring our own emotions as valid.”

How are you honoring your own grief for the things you’ve lost due to this pandemic?

Keith: We can only control how we respond. That is the reason for this practice, meditation. How can we look at what we have and realize the preciousness? How can we add substance? What is it that I can control? I have to maximize this experience. The people I claim to love, and the friendships that I have. The things that I have; what did I do them for? What can I take with me going forward to keep me from this superficiality? How can these experiences be more sacred? (It is the idea that we don’t necessarily have to let anything go, but to level up.)

Me: What would be your advice to young people at home struggling with this ‘give and take’ of productivity and honoring themselves in this confusing time?

Keith: Create a balance — as you detoxify i.e have something taken away from you, also look at the opportunity to gain.

You suggest the time is never available, but now time can serve us as opposed to serving time.

Claim your space. Many of you are at home uneasy because you’re seeing you, console you. This is a chance to listen, focus on the gain -meditate on that. Nothing is going back to normal because it wasn’t working. Listen to your answers in silence, embodiment without the words of where you’re choosing to go. (The mediation I teach is not to clear your mind; but to present the question to self, answer it truthfully, observe and surrender to your response through silence.)

Me: Do you feel that this is where self-study is necessary, introduction to the right books and content play a role in discovering how you really feel?

Keith: Now here’s the opportunity to think, the definition of stress is simply your inter perspective of the situation at hand. This is the best place to discover, to what extent do you feel? Not just interpreting through sensations or feelings, but putting words to it. Solely to identify what it is & where it is.

Words are limited, they do not articulate our feelings; we began to take on the burdens of them. Redefine your words. Ex: Anxiety defined: not enough oxygen to the brain; empathetic equates to feeling. We need to run to the sensation, not the term. Like the book by Erich Fromm mentioned above, I was able to redefine the use of the term “love”. The words we say are the only words that we know, therefore they limit us and create attachment. So if words are a tool, well I want these tools to benefit and uplift me. I want to diagnose myself with adjectives and adverbs that will position me best for winning and empowering me in my endeavors.

Suffering is innately apart of our life, the loss of people we love, disaster, sicknesses those happen and will continue to happen. We can only control our response. In the light of the suffering that is manufactured and designed. What we have the opportunity to manifest is solutions. In fact, Iv always been in agreement that life has no meaning.

“We give meaning to life in fact, to love our own problems.” — Keith Mitchell
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