Meditation with Purpose

Don’t Panic

by Rev. Heidi Buswell

People ask me sometimes what I think of as the best/most important “spiritual quote.” The answer is kind of surprising, but like the spiritual technique of grounding it is the thing everything else flows from. My favorite quote doesn’t come from a great spiritual work or the wisdom of the ages. It comes from an irreverent and amusing science fiction novel – The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. The characters in the book use The Guide to help them navigate all kinds of improbable events and disasters. Written across the front of The Guide, in “large friendly letters” are the words Don’t Panic.

Don't PanicThat’s my favorite spiritual quote: Don’t Panic. It is short, direct, unambiguous and easy to remember in times of – yes – panic.

Bodies don’t particularly like change. They find it scary and uncomfortable. If the change is big enough, or somewhat sudden they tend to panic a bit. People most often think of change in a physical sense – the loss of a job, moving to a new place, ending a relationship, or the death of a loved one. However spiritual changes can be equally significant and panic inducing – sometimes they even prompt some of the physical changes the body finds so unnerving.

What happens when we panic? We lose all sense of perspective. We forget that we are spirit and become totally focused on the body. We forget to use even the most basic spiritual technique of all – our grounding – to make things safe. We surrender to the body’s fear and spin, spiritually and physically, out of control. Eventually the panic recedes and we recover our senses and spiritual abilities, but before we do, panic takes away that initial instant of choice in our response. The choice with panic is always toward fear and away from love. It is the nature of the beast.

So how does this work in the real world where lots of scary things happen? Here are some examples.

- You sit down to meditate and uncover some deeply painful memories. Don’t Panic. First, remember to breathe and use your grounding to release some of the pain. Then, if necessary, contact a friend to help with your healing process so you can continue to move forward without triggering the deep levels of fear.

- There is a major change at your office. The head of the company is leaving and you don’t know how the changes will impact your job. Don’t Panic. Take a deep breath and check your grounding so you can release the fear. Take the time to separate your response from those around you. (How much of the fear you are experiencing is yours, and how much is your coworkers?) Then re-think the situation. It may just turn into a great opportunity for personal and/or professional growth.

- Global warming hits with a huge rain storm and the rivers start to rise. There is a flood warning for your area. Don’t Panic. Ground and let go of the fear so that you can think clearly in this instance of a physical emergency. Use your spiritual techniques to buy yourself the time to think things through clearly before taking action. Ask God for assistance.

Cultivating the Don’t Panic approach reminds the body that it is safe and reminds the spirit that it is in control. It allows you that instant you need to deliberately choose your response and course of action – spiritually and physically.