Cowritten by: Yvonne Rheinschmidt Ph D, LPC & Scott Rheinschmidt MA LPC
“Peace be with you.” John 20:19
Turning chaos into order is a common theme woven throughout Biblical Scripture and is a focus of study for theologians, psychologists, philosophers, and counselors. Chaos is connected to our Emotional Minds. Our emotional minds are important, and God given to help us to be relational and to help us understand how we are feeling at any given time. However, if we allow our emotional minds to react to situations and make important decisions we can lend to chaos and behave impulsively and selfishly. Order is connected to our Wise Mind. Using our Wise Mind is how we turn chaos into order. To access our wise mind, we must learn to manage our emotional mind.
As we continue to live by the ‘Stay home, work safe’ order many of us could begin to experience ‘Cabin Fever’. Symptoms of cabin fever are feeling restlessness, lethargic, trouble concentrating, lack of patience, sadness, intense irritability, decreased motivation, and even hopelessness (oh my that is bad). This means our emotional minds are starting to take over. How do we get our wise mind to help us manage our emotions and prevent cabin fever?
‘Breathe and relax’. Have you ever been told to ‘just breathe’, or ‘chillout’… ‘take a chill pill’, or even ‘stop it’, when you were acting emotional? Most of the time we do not want to hear someone tell us to chill out when we are emotional because it seems like they do not understand what we are feeling. Those words usually just make us feel worse. However, although the timing and delivery of these clichés may not be good the truth is, this is what we need to do.
Meditative breathing methods are often used in counseling therapy to help people develop a healthy coping strategy to lower stress associate with anxiety and depression. Slow, deep, abdominal breathing is the number one method for interrupting the stress response system, otherwise known as the sympathetic nervous system. By using the breath to relax, the emotional mind begins to come back to a calmer state allowing for more focused thinking and improved problem solving, hence the wise mind. Stress and relaxation cannot exist at the same time. Neither can chaos and order exist at the same time. To bring order to a chaotic situation we must calm ourselves first to be able to access our wise mind. By learning the skill of using our breath to manage our emotional reactions we can become response-able to handle difficult situations in a wise manner.
Jesus’ disciples were experiencing chaos even after his resurrection as they were all feeling emotional with grief and fear about the future. In their fear they hid and struggled to figure out what to do next. They were in their emotional minds. Jesus came to them and greeted them with “Peace be with you”. This may have felt like a cliché but it is just what they needed, a feeling of peace, to access their wise mind and move forward with their mission.
Pope Francis stated during this week’s general audience that “peace is incomplete since spiritual growth often occurs precisely when our tranquility has somehow been disturbed. In this Easter season we see Jesus bringing the gift of his own peace, a fruit of his death and resurrection. The Lord bestows his gift not as the world does – where “peace” is often purchased at the expense of others – but by destroying hostility in his own person (cf. Eph 2:14). A peacemaker, then, is someone who, by God’s grace, imitates Jesus in bringing reconciliation to others by giving of themselves, always and everywhere! Those who do so are true children of God and show us the way of true happiness.