In the last few weeks as the nights lengthen here in the Northern Hemisphere, the burnout from the covid-19 pandemic is worse than ever. It actually feels like a blanket of darkness has descended over us and our “hungry ghost” in us – that part of us who is spiraling in desperation for relief – is no longer hiding in the shadows.
The hungry ghost is a metaphor referring to Chinese Medicine mythology. The Hungry Ghost Realm is one of the eight realms in the Buddhist Wheel of Life. The Hungry Ghosts are creatures who live with desperate and extensive needs that cannot be satiated because their throats are too small to actually take it in.
In psychology, we took the metaphor of the hungry ghost to describe how humans consume in a desperate effort to gain control when we feel out of control. Dr. Gabor Maté, addictions expert and author of In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts describes the hungry ghost as, “the domain of addiction, where we constantly seek something outside ourselves to curb an insatiable yearning for relief or fulfillment. The aching emptiness is perpetual because the substances, objects, or pursuits we hope will soothe it are not what we really need. We don’t know what we need, and so long as we stay in the hungry ghost mode, we’ll never know. We haunt our lives without being fully present.”
Last spring, I was reminded of this metaphor by Dr. Brother Herukhuti, and since I’ve seen evidence of it increasing and increasing.
So much loss, threat, change, and restrictions from the Coronavirus Pandemic has increased our sense of powerlessness. Powerlessness is a trigger for the effects of past personal, collective, and ancestral trauma to come to the surface. (If it is already at the surface it increases even more.)
If you are a helper trying to support others right now, then it is even worse for you. Because you are both holding yourself and others aloft. I feel this in myself and see it all around me in the form of anxiety, loneliness, grief, addiction, attraction to conspiracies, codependent relationships, arguing, defending, demanding, accusing, controlling other people. It is happening to people of all ages but most heartbreaking is the suffering among our younger people.
We practitioners, educators, and parents need to figure this out so we can help our charges. This is why I spoke about this on my Facebook LIVE video this week. (Click the bell to get notified next when I go live!)
And why I am holding Zoom calls for Healers, Educators, and Parents to help move us all forward: Detoxing the Hungry Ghost: Healing Transmission: December 16 at 7:00 PM E and Understanding the Hungry Ghost to Lead Out of Darkness January 6th, 7:00 PM E. Click the link and make a donation to FOODlink to register for Dec 16.
And why I made these newest YouTube videos:
Three Essential Steps to Get Through a Hard Time
One of my readers questioned the “psychic step back” I made this second video to help explain it further. (If you have a question for me, come to my Facebook live coaching calls on Mondays at 11 AM E or leave me a question in the comments and I may just make a video for you!)
How to Take Psychic Step Back
I hope these two videos served you in how to keep on keeping on, even when you are overwhelmed. Because we really have no choice but to go forward. And as much as anxiety says that means you are trapped, it is not true, there is flexibility and agency in moving and consciously choosing what you do in each moment. That is the counter to the overwhelm! And, be gentle with yourself. These times are hard for everyone and it would be weird if you weren’t struggling. Stop thinking that your struggle is a character flaw. It isn’t. You are human.
If you need support with what you are feeling or want to know how to help the others around you right now, join my class next Wednesday on Detoxing the Hungry Ghost. Truly we need to declutter our minds and our lives because we need all our bandwidth to help our clients, students, families, and communities right now.
Are you ready?