Hello all,

We didn’t ask for this, but here we are in dark times. Times that include suffering, fear, and grief. It has been said that we cannot appreciate the light until we have journeyed in the dark. Few take this journey voluntarily however; we are thrust into it.

So in the midst of “I didn’t ask for this”, how then do we maintain hope, connection, faith and vision? How do we recognize the validity and reality of our fears, but not be led by our fears? How do we honor them, acknowledge them, but not let them be in charge of us. Or, as we used to say as kids say, “You’re not the boss of me” to our fears.

How do we turn fear to joy? As a psychotherapist I teach coping skills, and I’d now like to introduce you to the wisdom teachings I am using in this time of contagion and fear.

2 Sides of the Coin: Open Your Heart and Gladden Your Mind

Tara Brach tells us that there are two paths to equanimity and balance. One path is to touch into the fear and suffering with an open heart of compassion. The other path is to “Gladden your mind”. Sometimes we have to allow ourselves to feel our own pain, and to feel the pain of the world community as well. Sometimes we have to do just the opposite.

Yesterday I sat (virtually) with a client who sobbed as she told me that while she was grateful for her own health and relative well-being, she was also overwhelmed with the sadness and pain of how many she knew were suffering. Her heart was so open and her boundaries so porous that she was simply flooded. We sat together in the companionship of shared sorrow for a few moments. I put a hand on my own heart and invited her to do the same. After we sat together for a time with the fullness of our hearts, we then moved on with a softening and a lightening of the pain.

I invite you to take a moment now if you would like. Put your hand on your own heart and breath into it. Feel it soften as you stay with whatever is there. Be gentle with yourself. Be soft with yourself. Bring your compassion not only to the world outside of you but to the world inside yourself as well.

On the other side of the fear/joy street, Tara Brach reminds us to “gladden our hearts”.

Rabbi Ruth Gan Kagan advises us to give ourselves permission to rejoice. The psalmist tells us that there is a time to grieve and a time to rejoice. Sometimes even on the same day. Even now, maybe even especially now. We have been using the word “contagious” to talk about the virus and the fears we feel. When we read the news, hear someone else’s fears and anxieties, they can become catchy. We pick up on that energy.

The Upside of “Contagion”

We can also use this word though when we talk about contagious laughter, or contagious joy, or contagious hope. When we look for the pain and suffering, surely we can see it. But when we look for the bright spots, the joy, the beauty, we can see those too. I see and hear the cardinals every time I take a walk on a sunny day. And to be honest, I scan the trees and the skies for them now, so it is not simply a coincidence. We see what we are looking for, and sometimes we can call to ourselves what we want or need. So remember to look for the things you want to see: The smile of the supermarket worker (you can tell by the eyes even if their mouth is covered by a mask), the orange tulip that makes you catch your breath for the beauty, the old friend who just showed up on Facebook after a long absence, because they have the time and space – and the need now – to connect more in any way they can. Delight in these things. Let your heart gladden and fill with delight. This is grace, we can have moments of being touched by grace as we let our hearts open to joy and beauty and love. Let yourself be surprised by the coincidences, by your dreams, by the synchronicity you encounter. Be curious rather than afraid.

Moving from fear to joy

Use all of your senses – see, hear, taste, touch, smell the spring unfolding around us. My friend Julie taught me today to touch the newly unfolding spring leaves, they are softer and more delicate than later in the summer. Whisper “Grow” to each green thing as it pushes up from under the ground and know that spring always emerges from winter eventually, and that each of us has a role to play in that. Here is hope, faith, and joy. Go ahead and laugh out loud, gladden your heart and rejoice.

For more advice, see the post below.


With hope and joy,


Linda Yael Schiller, MSW, LICSW, is an international speaker, psychotherapist, author, and dreamworker. Her book Modern Dreamwork: New Tools for Decoding Your Soul’s Wisdom, 2019 Llewellyn Worldwide Publishing, is available in both e-book and print. Learn more at www.moderndreamwork.com.

Linda regularly teaches dreamwork skills to helping professionals, clergy and medical professionals; and at agency and corporate events and retreats both online and in person.

To contact Linda, use the phone number and email at the bottom of this page.

Date posted: May 5, 2020 | Author: | No Comments »

Categories: Linda's advice

Quarantine or Retreat?

In these turbulent times, we have been asked to place ourselves in voluntary quarantine for our own safety and the safety of our loved and vulnerable ones.  The concept of “quarantine” can conjure up images and feelings of isolation, of loneliness and of fragility. What if we re-think this message as one of Retreat instead? New Hampshire Lama Willa Miller writes,

In a pandemic, self-isolation is called quarantine.
In Buddhism, it is called retreat.
From the cave of our home, like the meditators of ancient times,
we can consciously kindle the lamp of compassion and connection.

Lama Willa Miller

Let us make this a time of retreat into the warm cocooned caves of our homes, into the quiet of slowing down, into a Shabbat from the business of the world.  And if we take apart the word, we see that it says “Re-Treat”, or to treat ourselves again.  Can we find some delight here too?

Silver Linings of Quarantine

We can use this time away from the busyness of rushing around to “treat” ourselves to pay attention to who and what really matters to us. Our health, our loved ones, our communities, and the health of the planet.  The silver linings that have already begun to appear in the news include clearer air and cleaner water in many polluted parts of our world, and the delight of seeing more and more people out and about walking, biking, and talking with each other instead of having their heads down buried in the cell phones!

At least, this is what I am seeing in my neighborhood, and when I go out to walk along the river and through the woods. Both I and others are taking a moment to smile and say “Hello” as we practice our social distancing on these walks, which is not the same as social isolating! Even if I can’t go “Over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house” right now, (because my daughter’s grandmother is 90, and we are staying touch virtually) we can still get out into nature to soothe our souls.

The Body/Mind Connection

What happens to the body effects the mind, and vice versa. The body/mind/spirit connection is the wholeness of who we are.  When we meditate, not only do our minds slow down, but our breathing and our body does too. When we walk outside, not only do our legs get exercise, but our spirits are enlivened when we remember to pause and notice the bright red cardinal singing his heart out, and the forsythia bursting into bloom along the path.  When we offer up a prayer to whoever and whatever we believe may be listening, we also create an energetic field of love and hope and resilience for all who are around us.

Begin and End Your Day With Gratitude and Blessing

If you haven’t already been doing so, now would be a wonderful time to practice soothing and grounding rituals at the start and end of your day. Maybe a moment of gratitude in the morning, to wake up each day and say thank you for having lived through the night, through your dreams and even your nightmares, to open our eyes to be able to say, “Thank you for this new day”.

And before you go to sleep at night, “…perchance to dream…” take a moment to surround yourself and your loved ones with healing, with a bubble of protective light, and invite your dreaming guides to share with you the wisdom of the night and the deep learnings you can get from this time of re-treat.

5 Simple Practices to Soothe Your Soul

  1. Practice reframing the idea of “quarantine” to one of “retreat” and see how that effects your mood.
  2. See if you can find the “treat” and delight in this time of fewer choices, and more time to focus on what matters most to you.
  3. Get outside very day and notice beauty around you. Find one small thing to say “Oh- how lovely!” about.
  4. Start and end your day with what you are grateful for. Let it be a blessing.
  5. Attend to your dreams, for the night wisdom of your soul can give you insights and guidance during difficult times.

See also:


My book, Modern Dreamwork: New Tools for Decoding Your Soul’s Wisdom, Llewellyn Publishing, 2019 is full of practical and simple methods for enhancing your dreaming life and finding the deep hidden source of inner wisdom on this journey to our depths called life. Please read more about it here: www.moderndreamwork.com

Date posted: April 22, 2020 | Author: | No Comments »

Categories: Linda's advice