Cure for bad news blues

A particularly dirty four-letter word has wormed its way into the news in clean, little Ashland this year. And it begins with an "R" not an "F."

Over the past months, articles and columns in the "Daily Tidings" have featured this "R" word in connection with a current Oregon Shakespeare Festival play. "Ruined" dramatizes the plight of the masses of women being brutally raped in the civil war in the Republic of the Congo.

In early January the "Tidings" splashed the word "rape" across its front pages for weeks, and with good reason. On the morning of New Year's Day, a passerby discovered a young woman lying unconscious and near death on an isolated street. Because her body was battered and her clothes partially torn off, it seemed likely that she had been abducted, sexually assaulted, and dumped on the street during the night.

Within days, reports of other recent rapes in Ashland made the news. Months later, word came that the unconscious woman had not been sexually assaulted and questions were being raised about the other two reported rapes.

None of this helped me back in January as I read the initial stories. For days, I'd wake up feeling sick in my belly. My imagination worked overtime filling in the blanks in the news stories. My thinking mind obsessed over how this could happen in our presumably safe small town — and when it might happen again.

The intensity of my reactions shocked me. Usually, I'm good at staying on an emotional even keel while taking in the most horrendous of news stories. I even provide tips on my blog about how to do this. My mission is to help people move from worry to joy to effective action.

Okay, Ms. Why Worry Guide, I thought to myself, what do you do now?

Here's what worked, although it took days instead of the usual minutes or hours for my meditations to become reliably calm again. When I closed my eyes to meditate and images of abduction scenarios arose, along with disgust, sadness and anger, I let the whole range of emotions surge through me. Then I turned the emotional clearing process over to the real expert, my body.

Our bodies—if we let them, and we act quickly—can detox emotional debris in minutes. All it takes is asking questions and sensing the answers.

Where am I feeling the emotions most strongly? In my solar plexus. What exactly are the physical sensations there? Burning. What if I feel into the burning? It softens and spreads. Uh, oh, I'm back imagining the crime scene. Return to the sensations. Now I'm getting angry at the perpetrator and all who prey on women. Feel the anger, then drop into the physical sensations beneath the anger.

Before long, the turmoil in my belly settled, my neck and shoulders began to relax, and my mind cleared. I asked myself "What might I do in response to this upsurge of violence against women? What will generate love, truth and peace rather than fuel hate, lies and violence?

The first reply from within was "Write a blog post. Let others know how they can transform heavy emotions and obsessive thinking into compassion and clarity." Other people march or teach free self-defense classes, and I bless them for that. I write. But only after defogging my brain and detoxifying my body so I don't add to the fear, despair and anger.

What's your gift? And, when you're roiled by bad news, how do you free yourself emotionally so you can use this gift effectively?

Carolyn R. Shaffer, MA, CCHT, is a life coach and certified clinical hypnotherapist. Contact her at, or call 541-488-0094.

Residents of the Rogue Valley are invited to submit articles on inner peace and all aspects such as intuition; guidance; courage; forgiveness; joy; tolerance; acts of kindness; gratitude; life's challenges of grief, addictions, Presence and more. In sharing lives are touched in ways seen and unseen and community spirit, energy and growth is enhanced. Send articles of 600 to 700 words to Sally McKirgan Previous articles search: inner peace.

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