Receiving Risk

Not long ago, a practitioner asked me, “Could you receive what it is that you do not want to receive?” What? No! Are you out of your mind? What are you talking about? Why would you even say that to me? Why would I want to receive something I did not want? What a weird and disturbing thing to say to someone!

And yet, what a deeply, profound and truthful question to ask. I know now why she asked it. She was wondering how close to reality I could get without balking. Without denying what is there. Without trying to reconfigure the Truth of what stands before me. And she asked it because it is so. Because it is here. Because a willingness to receive what we do not want, and to find a way to be with it, maybe even make good use of it, is a big part of being alive in a healthy and satisfying way.

What we are talking about here are the risks and the conditions of being alive. Of the fact that there are no guarantees. No definites when it comes to how our lives will go. And even though, way down deep, each and every one of us knows this, we fight tooth and nail for it not to be so. In fact, we create lives, individually and collectively, based on the denial of the realities that stand before us.

The question I am asking myself now is, “Can I surrender and become the one who embraces it all?” Not because I want it. Not because I like it. Not because I hope what I do not want sticks around. Not because I am a masochist feeling the need to be punished. But because I have come to see that until I can fully and completely say “Yes” to what is before me, I cannot choose from a clear and balanced place. A place by the way, that because it includes it all, is the most reality-based, true to form, comprehensive assessment of what is actually happening. Warts and all. Including the unwanted.

This as opposed to choosing from fear and resistance. From a refusal to receive what is before you. From a place of trying to control what is not yours to control. For the Truth is, whenever we choose from denial, scarcity, fear, avoidance, control, resistance etc. we will always, always create unintended consequences, along with a whole set of  problems we never intended. Or saw coming.

It puts me in mind of a book I once read by a medical doctor called Less Medicine, More Health: 7 Assumptions That Drive Too Much Medical Care. The first assumption being that all risk cannot be eliminated, and that trying creates risks of its own. Which brings us to what is happening now. That being, the current obsession with sterility and how it is creating a world of unintended consequences in the form of increased devastation to the planet through the excessive and fear-driven use of resources. We see this in the forms of paper towels, disposable gloves, masks, cleaning supplies and more being consumed at volumes the earth will not be able to tolerate without repercussion.

As we attempt to control one risk and to quell our fears, we over-use anti-microbial products; imbalancing our personal, collective and earthly microbiomes. Those luscious, rich and delicately balanced universes of micro-organsims that cover our bodies and the body of the earth; serving as a protective layer and health-giving resource. Particularly for the immune system. And so, while we think we are doing one thing to protect ourselves, are we in fact potentially creating a “cure” far worse than the disease we are attempting to eradicate?

What of the increased use of water, disposable containers, and overall resource depletion as we wage a war on trying to eliminate one terrifying risk only to trade it for a host of other equally, or perhaps more terrifying sets of consequences? In our attempts to reduce one form of toxicity, we increase other toxicity levels on the planet through the use of bleach and other harsh and life-depleting chemicals. And now, after decades of lobbying and finally succeeding in getting plastic disposable bags out of the waste stream, they are back now because it has been determined that reusable bags pose a threat.

So even though the CDC states that while “it may be possible” for the virus to be spread through contact with objects or surfaces, “this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads,” we can’t hear that. We can’t make that adjustment.

Back and forth, back and forth we yo-yo as a people. Trading one harm for another.

Where can we turn in times like this? How about to the hard core truths of existence? Those truths that lie at the heart of, and serve as the root of all else. Truths like the importance of each and every one of us learning how to manage our fears so that we do not create more harm through reactive and fear-based choices. Truths like we cannot control everything despite what we have to come to believe.

Biggest of all, could we learn to come to grips with the barest, harshest, truest and most precious of all realities? That being, that life has risks. That being alive is a delicate and risky business. And that facing our own mortality, while choosing to live as fully as we can is the greatest, sanest, safest, most honest and life-giving form of risk management that is available here on the planet.



In Vogue


Recently, I spoke with a man who told me, “I have been practicing “social distancing” forever. Finally, it’s in vogue.”

Where to begin with this one? Where to begin on where we, as social creatures, now find ourselves. Where to begin around what is accurate and necessary here given the times, and when it is that what we are choosing is serving to justify and solidify exactly the wrong perspectives and practices. Ones that in the end will leave us diminished in health and happiness and even, interestingly enough, less safe.

We mean so much to one another. So much, in fact, that it is what can hurt us the most. It is what can render us suspicious of intimacy in our relationships, and generate fears around strangers and those different from us; leaving us to believe that it is far easier, and safer, to opt out of being in social connection.

Our underlying and unrecognized fears around being hurt and unsafe, and of hurting one another are surfacing now with great intensity through the accelerated experience we are all going through with the virus. It can be so difficult to sort fact from fiction. To sort healthy precautions from choices that emanate from old wounds and distorted childhood survival programming, along with culturally condoned and made-up fears.

It is interesting, disturbing and ironic that out of all the words that we could have chosen to describe an approach to slow the spread of the virus between us, that we have somehow chosen “social distancing” to describe something we already do quite well now. It is as if it was just there waiting to be named. Waiting to justify the social disconnections increasing at an alarming rate through the distancing ways we use the screen technologies and our overly busy and distracted lives.

Only now, we have safety reasons to bring this into vogue. For who could possibly argue with keeping our distance now? Who could possibly argue with the sentiments that are sure to continue on long after this is over that is is far safer to “connect” via a screen, at a “safe” distance, than in person, because after all, who knows what will happen between us?

Whatever it is that we believe here or feel called to do at this time, let us never forget that caring touch heals. Let us never forget that close proximity, where we literally sense the breath and heart rate resonance of another, regulates our nervous system; insulating us against stress while supporting our immune functioning. Let us never forget that the research on social connections reveals that social isolation and alienation are as dangerous to our health as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and smoking. Let us never forget that those with the closest and most satisfying social bonds stay the healthiest, live the longest, and recover the fastest when ill.

Fears of being harmed. Fears of harming another. This is the dance we are all engaged in with one another, and at this moment in time, as our safety fears around others are being brought to the surface, we all have a choice. The virus has simply highlighted some things that have always been there. But the Truth is, we cannot afford to create any more distance between ourselves and others. We cannot afford more fear, mistrust or alienation. And we certainly cannot afford turning our relationships over to the machines, believing that that is what will keep us safe now.

What we do here matters. And not just over the spread of a virus. But over what it is that we will allow to take hold between us. What it is that we will allow to infect our minds about being in the presence of others. How we talk about this, the words we give it, all matter. A lot. Likely more than we know. Or maybe, are able to recognize given the fears we carry within.

The Herd


The herd has been spooked, and we are becoming ever-more afraid by the moment. More distrustful of others and what they may bring. More wary of contact. More suspicious of the benign.

As mammals, our herding behavior is built to insulate us against the dangers and stresses of Life. We are built by and for one another. To hold, nurture and protect each other during times of distress. It is our relationships with one another that heals the traumas of the past, bridges the terrors of the moment, and gives hope for the future.

Be very, very careful of where you let your mind go in these times for it can be felt and known by all of us. And like a barrel filled to the brink, it takes only one more drop to tip the barrel to overflowing. Therefore, choose the barrel you are filling carefully and wisely. For you may very well be the deciding drop to a world awash in fear. Or you may very well be the deciding drop for a world born anew with hope,Truth and possibility.

Never discount the role you play when it comes to the larger issues of the world. Just as one drop of ocean water contains, and is, the ocean itself, each and every one of us is the greater body of the world. Of the collective us. Of the direction our world will tip towards. Know the power of the part you play and choose your words, actions, thoughts and emotions accordingly. Nothing you do is insignificant. Nothing you do is separate from what is happening all around you.

Choose for hope, and then choose again. Choose for sanity, and then choose again. Choose for faith, and then choose again. Choose and choose and choose. Again and again. Ever-mindful of what you are choosing, and in all of the ways that your choices are rippling out, shaping and filling the mind of the one-bodied herd, and therefore our shared and collective reality.

What if just one thought by one of us could be the deciding vote? And what if that vote was yours, and yours alone?


Each year in the United States, on average, here is what we can expect in terms of how people die:

435,000 deaths from smoking

Almost 112,000 from being overweight

85,000 from alcoholism

37,000 from car accidents

15,000 from gun violence (excluding suicide)

1,100 from bee stings

And somewhere between 210,00 and 448,000 deaths from medical errors

To date, 12 people have died from the Coronavirus in the U.S.

Do you have a sense of where I am going with this? Where is the outrage over medically-induced deaths? Where is the needed cultural change regarding deaths from gun violence? On and on it goes. And while likely we have not seen the end of the number of people who may die from this virus, the point I am making still holds. That point being, all of the ways we get unnecessarily and dangerously whipped up with, and are feeding on, unrealistic fears. Along with all of the ways we get so caught up in moments like this as to lose all perspective; focusing and gathering instead around culturally, communally and self-generated made-up fears that over-emphasize and exaggerate the dangers we are facing, and call it a life.

In the meantime, we ignore the real threats, devastations and tragedies in our world. In the meantime, the stress response we put ourselves in depresses our immune functioning leaving us more susceptible to the very thing we fear. In the meantime, we feed the wrong things by buying more. In the meantime, we miss the real ways we can healthfully address situations like this. In the meantime, we are so perpetually distracted that we miss the real dangers of our world; allowing them to go largely unnoticed and unaddressed. In the meantime, we prime our nervous systems for the next crisis; ever-ready now to live as if the world is just one threat after another. In the meantime, we lose track that life is both  finite and precious. With things we can control. And things we cannot.

This is not about more face masks and Purell for the vast majority of us. Instead this is about creating a way of life that supports a healthy body; on our own and together. It is about a way of being that encourages and promotes reality-based perspectives. Ones that understand the difference between real and imagined fears.

Did you know that the CDC reports that each year there are somewhere around 1.2 million preventable deaths? How about we take a look at that, and what it would take to prevent them. Guess what though? We already have the answer. Slow down. Be good to yourself and others. Move your body. Breathe. Eat real food. Stay hydrated. Keep good company. Get the sleep you need. Do work that fulfills you. Cultivate positive mind states and emotions.

Somehow though, this is nowhere near as compelling as the fear that is being generated over this virus. Somehow we prefer jettisoning ourselves from one crisis to another. Why is that? This would be the place to begin should you recognize there is another way to live; taking all the energy it requires to be afraid, and directing it instead towards what makes for a healthy human being.

How might the death toll change then? Beyond even that, how might your Life improve?