Finding a Calm Center in the Storm

If you were like most people, you spent way too much time in front of the TV news in September and October 2001, absorbing the images of terror and panic that are saturating our culture. Every once in awhile, there's a feeling that comes over me (and others that I've talked with) that the mass psyche, the "mind of the planet" as it were, is freaking out. The ripples of intense emotion that are clouding our judgment are almost palpable as humanity stumbles into its next war. The simplest acts of living that give life its daily rhythms, such as going to work or opening a letter, have become triggers for fear and uncertainty. Obviously, individuals and entire cultures are going through some critical transitions that we are unprepared to face. As a flower essence fan, I'd like to "dose" the entire world right now (not that anyone would let a funny guy with a brown dropper bottle near the water supply these days!), but I'll have to settle on reaching one person at a time.

People have certain behavioral tendencies for trying to cope with major catastrophes in the outer world. At first they shut down emotionally and go into survival mode, walling off the overwhelming storm of feelings until a quieter time. They tend to forego more nuanced and individual responses in favor of accepted cultural reactions that may or may not actually help anything -- witness the outbreak of flag waving and religious revival in our country, not to mention the religiously inspired rioting we see on TV in the Arab countries. It's as though we fall back on our old "sacred symbols" to give meaning to events that defy meaning. The moral atmosphere becomes polarized in very black-and-white terms as we try to identify the "enemy out there" that is "causing" all our discomfort. We focus on little threats to our lives while ignoring the bigger problems to which we long ago became numb. We are having a global healing crisis.

The first flower essence that crossed my mind is an Australian remedy that Ian White named "Dog Rose of the Wild Forces", made from a tiny flower growing near a raging waterfall. The FES remedy Red Clover has a very similar description in the books (though I've rarely used it for panic situations). With either remedy, the person is overwhelmed by external events that are raging out of control. They are reduced to unthinking, instinctive behavior as a "herd psychology" takes over. Deep trauma takes hold as the outer chaos becomes internalized. These remedies help restore a state of calm strength, helping people overcome the effects of blind panic. Indian Pink also has some of these characteristics of remaining calm amidst chaos.

Elements of the Arab world have been calling America "the Great Satan" for decades. It intrigues me that America has dusted off its satanic vocabulary as well, with the emotionally loaded word "evil" becoming very popular to describe our new enemies. The equation "we are all good, they are evil" has taken hold on both sides. In psychological terms, this is known as a mutual shadow projection. While unable to see the questionable behavior in ourselves, we are more than ready to see it in others. Carl Jung, in his last book "Man and His Symbols", sees healing this global neurotic split as the great stumbling block for humanity. In his view (worth reading today yet), reclaiming these shadow parts of ourselves is the most important moral-political act individuals can perform. If you're ready to look at your own shadow issues, I'd suggest the FES remedy Black-Eyed Susan or my astrological remedy Shadow Master. The racism and intolerance we all carry, the "-isms" that blind us to our common humanity, can be addressed with Slender Rice Flower. Just be prepared to look deep into the dusty corners of your own psychic closet.

Above all, we need to learn how to feel our fear without being overwhelmed by it. A large number of remedies come to mind here, many of them affecting an overworked solar plexus chakra -- let me briefly mention some of them. Rock Rose deals with terror and the paralyzing effects of fear that leave us unable to respond wisely. Aspen handles the fear of the unknown, the sense that "something bad" is in the air and you can't put your finger on it. Cerato gives you confidence to trust your own judgment, while Wood Betony clears the emotions so your instincts ring true. And Chamomile is an excellent calmer of the solar plexus, for when life gets too much to digest.

Granted, sometimes force must be met with force, as if to say "enough is enough", but it must be said with honesty and compassion instead of rage and revenge. The cycle of violence must be broken. Compassion is stronger in the long run than bombs and hatred, peace is more healing than conflict. Until the world regains its sanity, strive for peace within yourself. The power of an open heart is more infectious than any germ.