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11 Creatives Share Their Best Tips For Staying Positive Through the COVID-19 Pandemic

Featured art by Richie Brown

We recently asked 11 different creative minds what their strategies for staying positive through the COVID-19 pandemic are.

We hope these tips offer comfort, clarity, and inspiration.

The array of answers provides insightful, and practical ways to remain grounded through a very ungrounded time.

While we may not be certain what’s on the other side of this great equalizer, if we take this time to transmute the uncertainty into perspective, perhaps we may find a deeper connection to our sovereignty despite the current conditions.

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11 Creatives Share Their Best Tips For Staying Positive Through the COVID-19 Pandemic

Benjamin W. Decker

Upping your meditation game or at least exploring different ways you can meditate is one great way to navigate quarantine. It’s said that we only use a small percentage of our brainpower, and this is a great opportunity for us to increase that. We don’t know what the future holds and meditation can help us increase the chances that we’ll be able to stay calm, think clearly, act efficiently, and boost our immune system to boot.

Not all meditation techniques provide identical benefits, so there is great value in learning multiple techniques, as shown in Practical Meditation for Beginners, which can be purchased on Amazon or Audible here.

Or accessed for free via PDF here.

I also recommend the Unplug Guided Meditation app, which has over 100 meditation teachers and thousands of different guided meditations. Available for iOS and Android in the App Store. Get a free month using the code: UNPLUGX3465

Benjamin W. Decker, Author, Practical Meditation for Beginners


Frank Elaridi

In this moment we face a pandemic and it’s easy to see things from a doom-and-gloom lens. But my hope is that history will remember this moment as a time when the world collectively came together and read books, came together and created art. Maybe they’ll look back and note how this was the instant the world learned how to be still and meditate while the Earth healed and was restored. We don’t know that it will happen this way, but isn’t it pretty to think so?

I am utilizing this break from routine to take a writing course online—something I would never have had the time to do without this forced break from the daily grind. I meditate more. I contemplate. Yesterday I laid in bed for hours with a pen and notepad just because I could.

There is a lot of fear out there right now, and while some of it is justified, being afraid only keeps us stuck. I recently posted a kundalini yoga technique that will help you instantly relax. Try it out! And from your new relaxed state of being, meditate, pray, and create!

Frank Elaridi, 4-Time-Emmy-Award-Winning Journalist

Melinda Lee Holm

My old therapist taught me a really great exercise we called Best Case/Worst Case. At the time, I was indulging in a lot of catastrophic thinking, always obsessing about the worst-case scenario. In my mind, I was being prepared, but in reality, I was locking myself into prolonged anxiety and depression. So, my therapist gave me this gift and I’m going to pass it on to you.  
Telling yourself to stop obsessing about the worst case will not work. Your brain is too set on that pattern. What will work is, whenever you have one of those worst-case fantasies, make yourself come up with an equally extreme best case.

It’s that simple.

Don’t cheat! The best case has to be at least as extreme as the worst case. If the worst case is you’ll lose your job and your apartment and die hungry on the street, the best case can’t be that you simply keep your job. It has to be that you get a massive raise without getting more work to do, your landlord tells you don’t have to pay rent anymore, and you have unlimited vacation time. You’ll naturally see the best case as ridiculous, but the truth is the worst case is just as ridiculous. They are both fantasies. Revealing that truth helps loosen the grip of anxiety and bring your focus back to the present moment. 

Melinda Lee Holm, Tarot Priestess

Sophia Rokhlin

I’m riding out the COVID-19 pandemic in a nation-wide lockdown and mandatory isolation in the Peruvian Amazon. What I have to say isn’t so much positive as it is an attempt to put things into perspective.

This place is the most biodiverse terrestrial ecosystem on Earth; in just 1 hectare (2.5 acres) we find more plant and animal species than we find in the entire North American continent. Your perception of what it is to be human will change when you spend enough time here. Palm leaves of Jurassic proportions. Psychoactive potions. Parasites. Traditional taboo, ghosts, fried grubs, talking birds. Over 400 distinct ethnic communities call this rainforest home, each and every one of them holding unique lineages of cosmovisions, ritual, ceremony, language, memory. 

A common denominator that runs through all of these cultures is the impact by viruses and traditional methods of isolation. 

Viruses: Amazonian communities are all too familiar with the historical impact of viruses in their regions – measles, mumps, pox, influenza; with the arrival of European explorers in the 16th century came rampant spread of diseases that, according to Survival International, are thought to have exterminated over 90% of the vulnerable population in a decade.

Isolation: Across the Amazon Basin, Amazonian communities have traditionally observed (in varying formats) an ascetic process colloquially referred to in the region as a dieta – in Spanish, a diet. This dieta or samá in the indigenous Shipibo language is an ancient, ascetic practice that involves an initiate (a hopeful hunter, doctor, leader, ecologist) going into the forest for an extended period of time in total isolation. Traditionally these dietastake place anywhere from 6 months to a year. Amongst the Shipibo, it is said that the great shamanic masters ‘bancomurallas’, now extinct, were said to trek alone into the forest and fast for up to ten years. 

During this period of isolation, the initiate makes a vow to abstain from all earthly delights – salt, sugar, oil, sex, music – anything and everything that activates the senses. In this state, in the process of ‘hollowing out the body’ with extended periods of isolation and fasting, small quantities if master or teacher plants are consumed. These plants are thought to reveal their ‘personalities’ – or what a chemist might refer to as ‘properties’ as the taker is in this hyper-sensitive state. This is how people learn about plants, ecology, and subtle energies of life itself. 

Traditionally this is done for the purpose of attenuating the senses; making a sharper hunter, a better listener, a visionary, a healer, a leader. The plant-dietas can be thought of as expansion-packs or software updates, adding on layers of perception and capacity for the user. In theory, the energetic signature of chamomile could be felt when the process is properly executed.   

The dieta is magical, even without the plants. I can’t help but think that there is something quite healthy about a culture with a built-in opportunity to retreat, to look within. Our culture seeks and produces knowledge ‘out there’ – while wisdom, we know, is only real when it is felt in the body. 

COVID-19 is not a malicious alien; it’s yet another entity sharing this planet with us, urging us all to seek cover and look within. Our civilization is in dire need of a break – a moment for us all to all go to our rooms and think about what it is that we have done.

In an era of problem-solving and Earth-‘saving’ dependent on the genius of technologists, is it possible that there is a value at taking a step back and looking within? Is this an opportunity to sit in silence – for a while, yes a long while – learn our voice, observe how our body moves, feel the silenced grief and desire we’ve buried beneath the incessant beat of a hyper-productive society, and simply be? And could it be that if we take just one moment to be, we can find a whole new way to see? 

Sophia Rokhlin, Author When Plants Dream: Ayahuasca, Amazonian Shamanism and the Global Psychedelic Renaissance, www.templeofthewayoflight.org, www.shanemauss.com/head-talks-description

Michael Phillip

I think the most important thing we can do is reclaim our personal agency and sovereignty.

Right now the zeitgeist is soaked in giant, swirling, scary forces beyond our control. We’re being battered by boogie men we can’t touch. We’re being hijacked by horrifying hypotheticals. It’s incredibly un-empowering.

The only way I can see to counter act this is to control what you can. Keep yourself, your home, and your relationships in order. Be proactive— reach out to friends. Have Skype parties. Dive into your creativity. Journal about everything beautiful in your life. Return to your somatic stability through mindfulness practices. Nothing fancy, just watch your breath. It’s incredibly comforting and grounding.

Michael Phillip, host/creator Third Eye Drops

Sarah Zucker

Since I’m self-employed, quarantine life is pretty much business-as-usual for me, except with an extra helping of societal angst and more time with my partner, who’s working-from-home. As such, I’ve had to tune out the voices that are like, “Now’s the Time to do (x)!” Like, I can’t expect myself to write the next Great American Novel in a week, especially a week where I had to jockey with frenzied people for a carton of eggs and repeatedly disinfect everything I own. So my best advice is this: first, do what you need to do to feel grounded and (relatively) stable, and worry about productivity later. The feeling that you need to produce in order to have value is a desperate gasp from the capitalist mindset we’ve all been steeped in our whole lives as it’s finding itself suddenly de-valued. This past week I focused on deep housework and daily meditation and yoga practice, and that’s it. And that has to be enough. Now that I’m feeling a bit less freaked out, I can dive back into creative work, but I really think you’re allowed to say to yourself: The only task I have to complete today is finding a way to feel Okay.

To that end, there’s been some media I’ve really been enjoying during this time. First off, and trust me, this is huge: There is a show that’s basically “The Great British Bake-Off,” but with Pottery, called “The Great Pottery Throwdown.” This is not an overstatement: the show has literally copied the exact format of “The Great British Bake-Off,” complete with gentle innuendo and tender Britons being sweet to one another, only it substitutes baking with ceramics. One of the judges is an enormous galumph of a man who routinely weeps over the beauty of pottery… I think this show could singlehandedly put an end to toxic masculinity. You can watch all of it on YouTube: this has been a gamechanger for me. It’s like being gently cradled by a cherub who boops you on the nose and tenderly lays you down to sleep on a cotton candy cloud – I find it quite soothing.

Comedy also helps.

My podcast obsession of the moment is Ask Ronna (with Bryan). A know-it-all Jewish Mother with impeccable taste (played by comedian Jessica Chaffin) and her slightly nutty gay friend (Bryan Safi) team up to give advice to real listener questions. These people have such a fun rapport, and the Ronna character is a longstanding favorite of mine (previously of Ronna & Beverly, another favorite comedy podcast whose entire archive is on Stitcher and WELL worth a deep dive). Regardless of what type of podcast you prefer, I love how the medium can make you feel a little less alone like you genuinely start to feel like these people are friends of yours, and that can be such a comforting feeling at socially-isolated times like these.

You can listen to Ask Ronna on Apple podcasts, or wherever your favorite podcasts can be found.

Sarah Zucker, Artist
Follow Sarah on instagram, or shop her VHS Art Apparel at Fancy Nothing.

Shelby Hartman

I’ve always believed deeply that within every challenge there is opportunity: opportunity for reflection, growth, and an ever-deepening commitment to intentionality.

What does that look like in the wake of this pandemic? For those of us who are lucky enough to just be dealing with the self-isolation, I think we can capitalize upon the space and time that this has brought to our lives. 

DoubleBlind contributor David Carrico writes about that beautifully in a recent article we published. I also think this is a chance for us to wake up to how interconnected we all are—all across the globe people are finding new ways to support one another, virtually or otherwise.

At DoubleBlind, we’re offering a free, virtual Self-Care Sunday on 3/29 at 12 p.m. PST in partnership with the Alchemist’s Kitchen in New York. (The Zoom link will be available via our Instagram.) It’ll be 90-minutes of breathwork, meditation, and journaling with a suggested $10 donation, which will be given to a nonprofit providing COVID-19 relief.

This is also an amazing time to dive into some online education and pick up new skills. We’ve just released a course on How to Grow Your Own Mushrooms at home, in the hopes that growing mushrooms will provide folks with a bit of joy during this time. Who knows? Maybe once the quarantine is over you’ll be a mycologist.  

Shelby Hartman, DoubleBlind Magazine

DJ Gina Turner

“In times like this, it is easy to panic because our foundations are shifting, and new normals are forming, but we are still creating. This is the time where our practices come in the most, where we can ride the current instead of push against it.”

The best advice I can give is when you find yourself rattling or panicking, notice it and focus on self-care, tend to your inner garden. The ways I do that are through my yoga practice or through creating music. I teach yoga and I DJ internationally, both survive on human interaction and community, and it has been absolutely wonderful how artists are sharing their gifts and still holding their community from this new heart space, we are still able to lean on each other.

I am offering weekly DJ sets online + daily check-ins on my Instagram and Facebook

I’m also offering Gentle Yoga for Therapeutic Self Care every Wednesday at 11 am EST, And coming soon: Weekly Silent Sitting  + Family Yoga on live streams with my daughter (since kids are home from school) 

All info for Yoga + Meditation can be found at: bit.ly/yogawithgina (and will be updated regularly)

DJ Gina Turner, musician, yogi, mom

Taraka

Music. Music is the best medicine for me during this time. I find that music is sort of like my secret weapon for being able to move through uncertainty and see it in a totally different context– one that is approachable, non-threatening, and even something that can be a source of inspiration and beauty.

Beauty is neutral– it is neither good nor bad, so sometimes when things seem grim, I don’t put too much pressure on myself to “stay positive”– positive and negative are both judgments– and any form of judgment just keeps you in the mental zone– I just try to relax and find the beauty. Once I can find the beauty, I feel like I am realigned with the symphony of the universe– a symphony that goes through many peaks and valleys, harmony and dissonance, tension and release.

I made a mixtape last week that is all vintage dance music from quarantined lands (which at the time was China, Italy, Korea, New Rochelle, etc… but now that means basically everywhere), but I put it on whenever I am feeling stir crazy and dance alone in my backyard like an insane person without judgment, without abandon. Just let my body totally get lost in the music until the two are merged as one. Cabin fever is just energy that feels stuck and needs to move, so anything you can do to move your body and ground yourself into the flesh will help keep all that energy flowing instead of just going to your head and getting caught in loops.

Humor is really important too, and I kept that in mind when making the mixtape– some of the songs are just downright stupid, and it is important to let yourself be playful and laugh and let whatever come up, come up. As much as it is tempting to distract yourself or numb out, at the end of the day, the most powerful thing you can do is to find creative ways to engage with the insanity, not just push it away. Make art with it, make music with it, make poetry with it, make love with it, dance with it. For some reason, we all chose to be here during this time of chaos, so stay curious, stay fearless, and ask what instrument you are here to play.

When you can approach chaos directly and ask it to be your dance partner, it can’t fuck with you. Suddenly you are allies together. Suddenly you are part of the music.

Join me for a livestream slumber party concert on April 3rd, 2020 on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/tarakalarson

Taraka, Artist, Musician

Taraka’s Quarantine Mixtape

Tricia Eastman

Many of us fear death, and that fear translates into a fear of the unknown.

As a society, we have been taught to repress our fear. When one comes face-to-face with our fear, one realizes that they must first die before they can truly live.

This means in order for us get out of the reptilian fear-mind in our brain, we must empower our souls. This increases the blood flow to frontal lobe of the brain and decreases activation of the amygdala. 

“The most important decision we make is whether we believe we live in a friendly or a hostile universe.” Einstien

Tricia Eastman, Psychedelic Renaissance Pioneer

Richie Brown

As we stare into the gaping maw of a universal existential threat, feelings of fear and negativity seem like the only reasonable response. Many of us have felt our first-world bubbles of comfort burst, leaving us exposed to a truth that has been there all along. All life is temporary, interconnected, and very fragile. For those of us experiencing a renewed animalistic FEAR FOR LIFE, I’d like to suggest making an effort to shift the perspective and energy usage to a THIRST FOR LIFE…especially the overlooked aspects of The Everyday.

Many of us, especially those on a spiritual path, romanticize the concept “spiritual experience” and will only be satisfied with meditating on a mountain, swimming through synchronicity, or transforming ourselves into an Alex Grey painting. But what about all of the seemingly pointless moments in-between the events we identify as meaningful? 

Can you experience enchantment while cleaning the cat litter box, or playing with your foot for no good reason? We have found ourselves with plenty of free time but nowhere to go and uncertain whether we are more afraid of death or boredom. Perhaps we’ve been presented with a perfect opportunity to view the mundane from a new perspective, or to elevate it to a more sublime status. 

When was the last time you stared deeply into a piece of broccoli or examined a cross-section of a sweet potato as it leaks tiny droplets of whatever that white sap is? Have you ever marveled at the rose pattern revealed by chopping the bottom off of a head of bok choy? Isn’t that miraculous? 

Have you ever inspected the nuanced sound of a squeaky chair? What about the percussive brilliance of a half-full pot of water struck in just the right spot. Bwooop! Go outside and listen to the song of the birds. You’ll soon notice car horns, a random screaming child, a dog bark, the wind rustling through leaves, or perhaps a plastic bag stuck to a fence jiggling arythmically along to it all.

Soak it up. You’ll never hear the same song twice.      

Once you’ve exhausted observing the limitless magnificence of The Everyday, try creating novel physical and emotional experiences for yourself…what I refer to as “dreaming out loud”.

Jog in place while eating an ice-cream sundae.

Recite a poem to an inanimate object.

Record a voicemail you wish you could leave for yourself in the past.

Pick a random word and repeat it out loud until it feels unfamiliar on your tongue.

Wear a wig in place of a hat and go for a walk.

Experiment with the different ways you can enter a room.

Experiment in general.

Every single moment is pregnant with unique qualities that can be excavated, dissected, or amplified. We’re usually just “too busy” doing important and meaningful things to notice. These are the not-so-hidden pearls of existence. Enjoy them. Share them with others. They’re free and they’re wherever you are.

If you’ve got the extra coin to spare, donate to a reputable life-preserving organization of your choosing so that others may have the freedom to soak up existence without worrying about where their next meal, shot of insulin, or paycheck will come from. Here is a resource to do just that: https://www.charitynavigator.org/

Richie Brown, Artist
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