The Gathering Room – Getting Through the Damn Day

– Hi there. – Are you all there? – How are you doing guys, friends? – How are you? “Friends, Romans, countrymen,
lend me your ears.” – And your eyes while you’re at it. Give me some eyes, some ears, two knees, (both laughing) and a chin. (laughing) That’s an office reference. – Inside joke, describing
the Loch Ness monster. How are you seriously, guys? How are you doing out there. – Someone write something to us so we know that you are there. – Yeah, I see 20 people there, but they’re like, “I don’t know.” – They’re like, “I’m not sure how I feel.” – “I don’t think I should touch the keys.” – Awful. – Oh, Diana, how are you? You’re awful, yep. – Yeah, I hear that. – Denise, Trisha, yes, yes, yes. Elizabeth, Ellen, hi guys,
River, we can still gather, isn’t that the best? – So nice, hi everybody! – We can still be together. It’s so good to see your names, your faces popping up, Aunt Carine is here
from Lillehammer again. – Aunt Carine always joins us. – We can always be here together. Emily Elizabeth, so
wonderful to see you, wow. – Thanks for coming,
thanks for showing up. We all need it, I think,
we need the circle. – Yeah, we sure do, boy oh boy. If we ever needed a gathering room in the history of our lives, this is the time, right? – Yeah, this is the room. – Whoo, here we are, in
the midst of it, babes. – In the very midst of it. – My very whole life I have been obsessed with social change, and it’s like oh, here we go, here we go. – It’s on. – It’s on. – Shall I absent myself for awhile? – I guess so, yeah. – Guys, pop your questions for Martha, we all know what the topic is, though that’s the topic that we’ll answer your questions on. – Sending so much love. Okay, so, how to get through
the damn day these days, you guys, I’m not kidding. It’s not easy out there. And the good news, it’s not great news. The bad news is all the news, okay. So if you’re watching the
news, that’s the bad news. The good news? The good news is that if you understand how
to deal with turbulence, like you’re an airplane pilot who learns to fly in turbulence, you don’t need to be
nearly as afraid or upset as most of us probably are. I remember going flying with a one person in a little tiny plane, he was piloting the plane, it was like a little tin can, the doors barely shut. And we hit all this turbulence and the thing was dropping
and twisting and turning, and I just about died
from fright right there. But, this was a guy who knew how to fly in turbulence. And he said, “Watch,
this is gonna be okay.” And he started dealing with the plane, and at one point he
turned off the engines, and I just thought,
“Goodbye, cruel world,” and we dropped down out
of this zone of turbulence and into some still air. And he knew how to do that because he’d done it before. Well, our culture doesn’t teach us how to deal with massive, massive turbulent changes like the
one we’re facing right now. I remember even as a
kid, and even recently writing a book that’s based on Dante being obsessed with the plagues
that went through Europe, with that kind of fascinated staring you do at an accident. Sort of a rubber-necking thing. And I remember reading books about it and going, “How would I get through that? “How would I have gotten through that?” And reading things that wise people said in those times when they actually did get through it. And what I’ve learned from that is that the way to get through
the damn day these days is to use your ability
to handle turbulence. I was looking today at a model of the grieving process from Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, you know, the famous grieving process: denial, anger, depression,
bargaining and acceptance. What this model had that
I hadn’t seen before was it showed how our moods move. So denial, starting on one side is something that actually
shoots us into high activity, then anger can start to
like get at a high point, and then depression will set in and just bottom out,
like the mood plunges, and then bargaining brings us back out, and acceptance can
actually take us to a place once we’ve finished this
whole thing many times, that is higher than the
place we started before. I was really interested by this and I thought, “Okay, I’m gonna
go back to the ABCs of this. “I’m going to look at
the stages of grief,” because we’re all in them like we’re in this turbulent air. We’re being dashed around every which way. All our prayers go out to you, by the way. If you’ve been ill, or
you’re afraid to get ill, or if somebody you love is ill, or if God-forbid you’ve lost someone, I’m going to insert in here, I have read the research on tons of prayer for the sick studies. They’ve done lots and lots of studies on taking two groups of people who have been through
the same operation, say, the same surgery, and randomly sorting them into two groups. One group gets prayed for by people who don’t even know them, and they don’t know
they’re being prayed for, and the other group doesn’t. And in many, many, many of these studies, it turns out that the
people being prayed for heal faster or have fewer complications and leave the hospital
faster than the others. And scientists have been scoffing at this and saying it’s stupid,
it’s made up, it’s biased for a long time, and
they’ve tried really hard to debunk these studies. And I read one joyful paper where they’d finally managed to debunk the myth that prayer can help the sick. And they way they
debunked it was by finding a bunch of people to do the praying who were scientists who believed
that prayer did not work. And as long as that condition
was met, prayer didn’t work. So they said, there it
is, it doesn’t work. Ooh, sorry. I don’t know, you guys, it can’t hurt, right? And I have to tell you,
the number of studies that preponderantly show
that there is a slight effect doesn’t mean that we’re gonna be able to pray this pandemic away, but I just want you to
know, I’m praying for ya, because why not? It may really work, and
it’s not gonna hurt. So, all of that to frame up what we are going through right now. All of us. I did it all last night. Denial, okay? Denial is not just a
place where we feel like oh, everything’s gonna be fine. One of the weird reactions people can have in a state of denial, is elation. Like becoming abnormally cheerful. And there’s this kind of like, “This is gonna be great!” And it’s almost a manic state. Then, you might go into avoidance of information that says things are rough, and they may get rougher, and I don’t like those
news reports either. As somebody trained in sociology, I know what those growth curves look like. I know what they do, and I know that to quote
Barbara Ehrenreich, statistics are people
with the tears washed off. So I’m scared. I would love to avoid the information, but a lot of it’s good, and we need to be able to access it. Somebody just asked, “Why
am I talking about grief “at a time like this?” And here is why. Because we don’t know
what’s going to happen, but we all know that we have lost things. We’ve lost so much in the last 24, 48 hours, look back
at last week’s gathering or the one before. It was a different world. In two weeks we’ve lost
what feels like our freedom, we’ve lost so much normalcy. Like every institution is being impacted, and will continue to be impacted. And going forward, we really don’t know what
normal will look like. It’s going to be different,
I’ll tell you that. It can be better in the end, but the death and rebirth
is a traumatic experience. And when you’re going through
a death, rebirth period, and this has not even crested, right? Next week we’ll be facing even more daunting numbers. We have to deal with that circumstance by allowing ourselves to feel the feelings connected with the loss
of everything we expected. You know, people, everything. I mean, it’s huge. Never before in the history of humanity have so many people lost the
same things at the same time. Huge things. So knowing how to navigate turbulent air is knowing how to navigate
this unprecedented crisis which is knowing how to
navigate the grief process. So, the first one is denial. I bet we’re all out of it now. But it includes things like shock, disbelief, avoiding information, and that weird elation I
was talking to you about. So there’s a crest in energy, and then your energy
will start to get low, and believe me, there’s something called denial with a little D where you just say, “I know it’s happening. “I need to pretend it’s not happening “so that I can sleep through the night.” So we’ll all go in and
out of denial many times as we go through the
next weeks and months. So the energy drops off, and as it does, a lot of us go into anger. Not everybody, but some people go straight into anger which is irritability, frustration, you may find yourself really
feeling raw and shredded, and snapping at people. That’s a really good time to go by yourself, cocoon,
and let yourself slide into the next phase which is sadness. Sometimes despair. This is where your energy
is gonna be lowest. You may feel overwhelmed,
you may feel helpless, you may feel fight or flighty, like you wanna run away, or you wanna attack the problem, or you wanna just hold still, because freeze is another
thing that you can do in response to a threat. So this is the place where I’ve seen animals who felt like their
lives were threatened, and they just go limp. And it’s a defense
mechanism at the very last moment of a crisis. Because there are times
when things are so chaotic that just to go completely limp and relax into the situation, like a car accident,
sometimes people who are drunk survive them because
they’re so relaxed and limp. That depression is trying to help you stay limp during a crisis. And as you gain energy
from the rest of that, the rest you’ll get doing that, I once had a client
say, “I’m so depressed,” and he was saying depressed, but what I heard was, deep rest. So you’ll go into times
when you need deep rest. And then you’ll come up and you’ll think, “Okay wait, maybe there’s a
way to find meaning in this, “maybe there’s a way to go forward. “Maybe I can reach out to others, “maybe I can tell my story.” And this is where you start
to, they call it bargaining, but you start to make meaning out of what’s happening to you. Guys, every time you go
through a depression, relax but look for the
moment that your mind says, “You know why this might be all right?” And weird ideas will come into your mind, but your mind is starting to search for new ways to make meaning out of an unprecedented situation. And then as it does that, you start to find ways to say, “Okay, here’s how I’m going
to use this experience “to become a better, stronger, “more agile version of myself.” It’s how you just drop into the air and you trust the air under your wings, and you know it’s gonna keep you flying. And so that process, what I’m saying is, we’re going through all of
those things repeatedly. Huge denial crest of energy, anger, despair, then finding meaning,
and then into acceptance, then back to denial, and back, and it’s just boom, boom, boom, like this. And if you know that that’s what’s coming, you can give yourself the appropriate care at each moment of the turbulence. So when you’re in denial, you need information and
communication with others. Okay, like, all right, let’s
buckle down and see this. When you’re in anger and depression you need emotional support. So with the people who are quarantined with you or whatever, learn that when somebody bursts
into tears, or snaps at you, the most productive response
if you can possibly muster it, is to say, “I’m right here,
I know what you’re feeling. “Of course you feel that way. “Tell me everything,
I’m right here for you.” You don’t need to fix the problem, you don’t need to fix their feelings. You just need to be present. Same thing if you are the one feeling anger or despair or whatever. If you don’t have anyone around you to do the talking, call a friend, and do a video call,
connect, connect, connect. But if it’s the middle of the night and you don’t want to wake anyone up, put yourself in blankets and say, “I’m here for you, I’m listening. “Of course you feel that way. “Remember, we’ve felt this way before. “It’s not gonna last forever,
this too shall pass.” I did a really powerful for me, call with the people that were going to go to my African
Star Retreat this year, and of course that’s been banned. The travel has been banned. And I asked them to just get in touch with the part of them that’s afraid, and ask it to step aside for a moment, and then access the wisest part of them. So I’d love you to do that now. Access the wisest part of you, and write a message from your wisest self, or from, call it your
spirit guide, or god, or whatever you want to call it, it’s fine with me. Write down a message
from that wisest self. And ask that self for wisdom over, and over, and over again. I’ve written whole journals full of that at other times in my life, and I wrote some more last night. So, when you get to the point where you’re beginning to find meaning, and your strength is bigger, and you’re saying, okay, I can accept that the world is going this way. Okay, (breathing deeply) at that point, what you need is to access creativity, to make the absolute best
out of your situation in this present moment. We’ve talked about this before how presence is our only refuge from things we can’t control or predict. So by accessing your creativity, you put these questions like I’m scared, I don’t know what’s gonna happen, I don’t know how I’m gonna make a living, I don’t know what’s gonna
happen with my relationships, I don’t know how my kids are gonna fare, all the rest, or my parents. And you say to the wisest self, “Give me ideas I’ve never had before.” Because this is an experience
we’ve never had before. And it cracks open what we usually think, and what we usually do,
and it feels horrible, but as Leonard Cohen wrote, “There’s a crack in everything. “That’s how the light gets in.” Let this crack you open. Let the light come in by holding yourself through
each stage of the turbulence, and then by opening to new ideas, and asking for them. And it’s when you’ve done that, and then you’re just taking a shower, that suddenly the new idea comes to you, that suddenly the comfort arrives, that suddenly you know that
things are gonna be okay, whatever it is for you. And we all need those moments, and we all need each other to keep circulating those new ideas. So, that’s how you get
through the damn day. You know it’s gonna go like this, you know all the parts of it, and you know love yourself through it and reach out for connection and information when you should and then expect new ideas to arrive. Helping, saving, loving,
building new ideas that are gonna see us
through this pandemic and into the foreseeable years ahead. So, with that, I don’t know
if anybody has any questions. But I would really like
to answer some if I can. It is one of the few things I can do. – Here I am, I’m back. – The gracious badger
herself, has returned. – Hi, and I don’t know
if you guys know this, but Martha can’t, without her glasses on, can’t read your comments. So even though we appreciate them and we read them afterwards, she can’t read them live. So I just wanted to say in advance, on both our behalves, it is so beautiful to see you guys all
showing up for each other. You have big bags of- – Love. – Completely understandable fear, helping each other out, so many ideas, so much wisdom, and I feel very grateful for this group of people right now. And I do have some questions here. There’s some really interesting ones. So Ann Marie was saying, was talking about this urge to eat, and someone else was talking about, “I’ve just started drinking,
is that one of the phases?” (both laughing) – It absolutely is, actually. It’s part of the denial phase. It’s a way of saying
maybe this is just hunger. Maybe if I could just blot this out I won’t have to deal with it. And you know what? Forgive yourself. Those are very understandable mechanisms. Obviously, I’m not gonna tell you, well, in the future
whenever you have a problem just drink a bunch of whiskey. No, but forgive yourself for things like nervous behaviors like
eating, drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes, it’s not good for you, but if that’s what it
takes to get through? – Really try and cut
out the fags right now. Just for your lungs. – That’s what they call
cigarettes in Australia by the way.
– Oh, sorry. (laughing) – It means cigarette, you guys. That did not come out
the way it was meant. – Everyone else (speaker mumbling). – There’s another thing. Gallows humor is another way
to survive the unsurvivable. So if you can find a
way to laugh, please do. So yeah, we all are going
to do things like bundle up. The urge for warmth,
for shelter, for food, for oblivion, sweet oblivion, for hugs, for shopping, that may be
something that is inadvisable too, if you’ve just lost your job, but all these things are about hunter/gatherer responses
to an emergency situation. So allow that, give yourself a hug, give yourself a free pass and forgive. And then see if you can go on through anger/depression into meaning making. – Awesome. So, Diana says, “I can’t
see any positives in this. “Can anyone else?” And oh, no, people are
saying, “Whiskey it is.” no, exnay on the iskeyway! (both laughing) Yeah, can anyone else see any positives? And I wanted to encourage you Martha just to talk a little
bit about transformation. – So you guys, from the time I was knee high to a grasshopper, something in me felt very strongly that I would be part of a time when human beings would
see a vast transformation in the way we live on the planet. And I dedicated my whole
life to this transformation which I did not understand, and I didn’t know what it was. It just felt like
unpredictable changes coming. And so I’ve been studying it forever. I’ve been writing books about it forever. And a lot of times people thought like my last book from
a New York publisher, my editor was like,
“You’re a little off here, “because what if this transformation “you’re expecting doesn’t happen?” I heard the same thing
from other sociologists when I was an assistant professor. They’re like, because a lot
of students would come to me and say, “I think there’s gonna be “a big transformation in my lifetime.” And I finally brought
in another sociologist and I said, “There’s a
student in my office, “I’ve never met her before, “but she’s going to say this. “She’s gonna say she’s thinks she’s gonna “live through a time of
great transformation, “and she can help.” So we went in, I said,
“I’m not gonna say a word.” The student said exactly
what I’d expected, and we talked for awhile, I sent her away, and the other sociologist turned to me and she said, “You’ve had
many encounters like this?” And I was like, “Dozens.” And she said, “Well, it’ll
be really interesting “to track these people and
see what happens to them “when the transformation
doesn’t ever come.” That was when I realized
I’d joined the opposition. Because I was like, I
believe these people. And I believe my own heart. And for awhile I tried to push it away, but it came back, it came back. The first act of transformation is the dissolution of the existing order. When a caterpillar goes into a cocoon, an image I’ve been using to
train coaches for 20 years, the caterpillar does not
come out on the other side. A butterfly does. Something much more splendid. And when the caterpillar
first starts this process, it does not just grow wings, you guys, it dissolves into a liquid. It falls apart. Every cell from every other cell. At which point, something
in the biology triggers, the chemistry triggers something called an imago cell,
which holds the image of how to make a butterfly
from the very same molecules that once made up a caterpillar. That’s what happens to transformed lives. It may have happened to you
that everything was shattered. There was nothing positive. When my son was diagnosed
with Down’s Syndrome I could not find anything
positive, nothing. And it took me months of turbulence, just staying in denial
and anger and depression before I thought, let’s
make meaning of this. Maybe this will transform my life. Maybe it will introduce
me to ways of thinking and being I’ve never seen before. Maybe I had been having
like psychic experiences when I was pregnant with him. I thought maybe there’s
more magic in the world than I ever thought. Maybe this is cracking open my mind so that more light comes in. Maybe this is opening me up. And I decided instead of
not believing anything until it was proven true, I would believe everything until it was proven false to my satisfaction. And it blew open my
mind, my life, my world. And I can tell you looking back 32 years, every change Adam brought into
my life has been positive. And I could see nothing. This can do the same, you guys. I’ve been through other crises even more devastating than that. This can crack us open
so the light comes in, and as a people, as a
species on this planet, we need a new way of being. We need a new way of being. This is going to change everything. And it will hurt and take
out, kill a lot of people, but more people will be transformed than anything else could
could have ever done. This will transform more people than anything else could possibly do. It’s gonna make us rethink our way of being on this planet, it’s gonna open us to some of the worst things in our nature,
but the best as well, and have have the information and technology to gather
in groups of hundreds to share the light that
comes into each of us. Do you know what that is
going to do worldwide? Neither do I. I just have felt in every cell of my body since I was born, that
this was going to happen. And I’ve even thought,
there’s only two ways: war and plague, and I’ve been afraid of them my whole lives. – My whole lives? – My whole lives, yeah. – So awesome. – My whole life, because
something in me said, yeah, that has to happen so that changes this huge can occur, and this positive, and the reason we can’t see them is that it’s a whole new way of seeing that we’re gonna come out
with on the other side. – And doesn’t it feel better in your body to put this kind of meaning and take this kind of
energy from this moment than you know, just the weight and the despair and the terror? – Yeah. – So we can make that choice. Not all the time, not every second, but we can choose to
make meaning out of this in a way that brings some relief. – Yeah, so after the denial, the anger will take you and
you will have no good ideas, and the despair will take you and you will have no good ideas, but if you care for yourself, the imago will trigger inside you, and you will begin to recreate your life, because it’s blasted cell from cell, into something with wings. Into something so much more beautiful. And with each round of turbulence, you’re gonna find yourself
rising higher and higher, getting more and more
inspiration, more creativity. A closed mind doesn’t progress. A mind that’s been blown open can do anything, you guys, anything. So, we’re in this together. This is what the gathering room, when we made the gathering room it was so we could gather with the people who are going to be transformed
by whatever happens. I’m gonna tell you one
more thing, then I go. This is a little woo-woo. When Martha Beck Inc, my little company, when we got our leadership
together in California for our planning meeting for 2020, – Last November. – Last November, we went around the room and we do what we always do. Everybody gives a personal goal, and then a goal for the company. It was so strange though, because as we went around everybody said, “I don’t really, “I just wanna keep doing what I’m doing. “I don’t have any big plans “that are coming up for some reason.” And then somebody said,
“You know the only thing “that comes to my mind for
this year is be ready.” And all of us just sat up in our chairs and went, “That’s it, that’s it! “Let’s get ready, let’s be ready.” And we didn’t know what for. And it felt both wild and frightening, and also really powerfully positive. And so that’s what we’ve been doing. We’ve actually been putting together this Masterclass, a free webinar that’ll be available from March 31st. – But you can register now, and I’ve put the link and
a little explanation field. – Yeah, and you can
register at – It’s gonna be more
stuff like this, you guys. – And we’re gonna hit this hard. We’re gonna go into let’s create something absolutely beautifully, you
know, let’s make a butterfly out of this dissolution. Never say destruction,
just say transformation. Not destruction, transformation. We’re all going through it together. I’ve kept you too long, because I don’t want to say goodbye, because this is a time when I just, we’re all holding each
other in our virtual hugs. And I don’t wanna leave, you know, because there you are,
there is so much love coming to us all through
our computers right now that it’s almost like
we’re gathered around the same campfire on a blistering cold day warming our hands. Because this love, and
this physical separation combined with technological
communications, that is the pathway of the
transformation of consciousness. (breathing deeply) So even until we meet again next week, we will stay together. We’re sending out so much love and prayer, and hope and faith for everyone here, and for everyone else on this
beautiful planet of ours. (making kissing sounds) – See you next week, gang.

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