Keeping Integration in Mind: Response-Ability in These Times of Uncertainty

In the past weeks, I have been reflecting on the varied responses to the current pandemic.  Like you, I’m exposed to multiple stories of unregulated fear and panic driving people to narrow their sphere of concern as they scramble to populate their pantries and cupboards causing widespread shortages for others.  Also, I have been deeply discouraged by the opposite reaction: when people minimize and disregard the risks, along with their responsibility to physically distance themselves from others. In response, it has been far too easy for me to move to judgement and blame.

Yet, I know this does not serve me or others. I realize that not only do I have a social responsibility to enact measures to do my part to flatten the curve, I also need to focus on preparing my mind for flexible and adaptable response-ability.  This means that I need to stay engaged with my mind, embodied brain, and relationships with the intent to promote integration.  This has required that I take time to tune-in and to meet whatever comes into my awareness with acceptance and grace.  Even when I notice judgement and fear.

Tuning in with integration informing my perspective, I can see how the above responses come from states of being that are chaotic (panic and frantic buying) or rigid (blunting of care and the dissociation from social concern and responsibility).  Recognizing this, I notice my judgement loosening as I can easily understand that this has happened because we are neurobiologically designed to disengage from our social engagement system when under real or perceived threat.  This pandemic puts us all in touch with real threat and life danger; so, our nervous systems respond with fight, flight, freeze or collapse into despondency, denial, and dissociation.

Upon this realization, I recognized that it is my responsibility to mind my brain, my body, and my relationships in ways that support my own ventral vagal response.  In order to have the ability to respond, I cannot be chaotically reacting out of fear, nor taking shelter in attitudes of denial.

Like you, I don’t know where this is going to go, when it will end, and what will be different when it does.  However, what I do know is that this crisis is inviting me to be present as each day brings another layer of impact requiring rapid adaptation and flexibility.  I wish to stay conscious of the acuity of uncertainly that is upon us, rather than defaulting to protective mechanisms that might work in the short run but ultimately add to the problem.  In doing so, opportunities for coherence emerge, moment by moment.  I feel a deep commitment to this and notice that it brings ever-changing stability that is responsive to the uncharted waters we must all navigate together.

GAINS is here for our members during this challenging time. Follow us on social media for up to date information – our links are below.  Watch our archived Living Journal webinars for inspiration on all things IPNB. Or email to contribute a guest blog and share your experience of social distancing and quarantine. No matter where you are, remember we’re all in this together.

May you be well….

Lynn Redenbach, RPN, MA, PhD (cand.), RCC

President, GAINS