Ordo Fratrum Minorum Capuccinorum

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updated 12:37 PM UTC, Feb 26, 2021

Self-Care During the Quarantine and Capuchin and Human Optimism In Order to Lift Our Hearts

For the healing of fear and anxiety during this quarantine and lock-down

Dear Brothers,

One of the friars asked me to take a few moments to help people remain positive while facing the risk of depression, and to help them in lifting up their hearts.

This is certainly an inspiration that comes from the grace of God. Building on the fraternal meetings for self care and spiritual integration we’ve initiated in the General Curia, while also respecting the distance (at least 3 meters) between us, we want to share these things with you brothers, so that you can use them for formation, in your ministries, and above all, share them with the needy and the poor. We suggest taking a few minutes to do the  following exercises: meditation, engaging in therapies for healing of fear and anxiety, taking time for sharing positive stories and humor, singing hymns and songs; friars could volunteer to lead such activities. We encourage singing songs of hope and joy, engaging in movement exercises such as ‘brain gym’ or dancing. Any of these activities would require no more than 20 minutes, and if you are practicing them around noon, for example, you might follow them up by praying midday prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours.  Also, if it is possible, it’s always beneficial to get out into the sunlight early in the morning or in the evening for 15 minutes in order to retain healthy levels of Vitamin D. Taking time for learning such disciplines can aid in building good habits for total health.

Let's go back again to nature : All of our countries have available foods and medicines that are all-natural, but some of these are overlooked because of our modern means of producing such basic necessities. There are, however, insightful doctors and researchers (with faith in God our Creator) who say we can go back to continuing some of these practices. This is not to say that modern medicines are useless, but there is a danger that motivated by profit, they could overcome and obscure the simpler, cheaper and more natural options. Today it takes a special effort of fostering integration where modern medicine continues working with natural medicine and local traditions.

We as Capuchins, brothers to the people, could take a positive and pro-active path; encouraging people to come back again to nature and to natural medicines, while always listening to our good doctors and researchers. So, we appreciate the good things in modern medicine, while continuing to take advantage of the benefits of natural medicine – which is God’s gift, as it is Mother Nature’s. One of our researchers from India said while seeking to produce a vaccine against the current Coronavirus,  we should also have recourse to natural medicines and so we can more effectively stop this virus, of course with the help of medical personnel. Come brothers; Brother Francis and Sister Clare are inviting us to do something in the name of Jesus and with the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

The Self-Care Procedure:

Let us dedicate a few minutes every day for self-care.

1. The Inner Journey Through Grace and Exercise of the Heart

Placing ourselves in the presence of God ( Jesus) can treat our fear and anxiety in regards to the Coronavirus. We ask Mother Mary, Saint Joseph, Brother Francis, Sister Clare, Brother Felix of Cantalice , Brother Leopold, Padre Pio, Mother Teresa and other saints to stay with us and bless our fraternity and our world.

I invite you to do these exercises with the help of Jesus our Master and they will bring healing and strength. Let's start with an exercise for the heart – to strengthen our hearts with love and the power of God.

Exercises for the Heart:

These exercises help to strengthen the heart with love, integral optimism and grace. According to Energy Psychology, there is a flow of vital energy in our body. And our hands could share that positive energy, blessing and love with different parts of the body by touching and meditating, (Prof. Alexander Lyod , Beyond Willpower ) .

Exercise #1: Remember an image of Jesus that helps you meditate on his love and his loving presence. Put yourself in his presence and look at his face for a few minutes, becoming aware of his grace, his life-giving word and the wisdom that inspired you. When you come to an intense moment of God's love, put your palms one on top of the other, and move them to the area of your heart. Inhale and exhale love and grace upon you. Let it happen as gradually as possible. Become aware of the love of God , which flows through the palms of your hands into your entire being. You could continue to meditate in this way, or while you are doing it you can also add whispers of love. Start repeating some phrases from the Bible or Psalms that you like, for example: Jesus my Shepherd; God I entrust myself to you, fill me with your love and your strength, etc.,

The variation lies in simply starting with a gentle circular movement, massaging the palm of the hand that touches the heart. The massage is done with the hand that is on the top. This can lead to a greater flow of life energy. You may also remember the love of God for some time and then move on to thinking about a loved one in your life. Keep this memory and the feeling of love you feel on yourself.

In the same way, now place one hand on top of the other, on your forehead and follow the same procedure as mentioned above. Ask God to fill you with his wisdom and his love.

Then move your hands over your head and repeat the procedure as indicated above. Repeat according to the time available .

Exercises #2: Begin by remembering a person who inspires you. Remember her/his face and personality. Admire her/his faith, the kindness, the wisdom, the witness and the sisterly/brotherly love. If you want, remember a beautiful moment that you lived with this person. Bless this person who brings you joy, e.g. “I bless you and I love you. I thank God for you and for your religious life and friendship.”

When you come to the most intense moment of this person's love , put your palms one on top of the other, and move them onto the area of your heart. Inhale and exhale love and grace upon you. Let it happen as gradually as possible. Become aware of the love of God and this person flowing through the palm of your hands in your entire being. You could continue to meditate in this way, or while you are doing it you can also add whispers of love.

In the same way, now place one hand on top of the other, on your forehead and follow the same procedure as mentioned above. Ask God to fill you with his wisdom and his love.

Exercise #3: Then, move your hands over your head and repeat the procedure as indicated above. Repeat according to the time available.

Relax and do this as many times as you want. It can be done before going to bed or during a break. It could also be done when we wake up at night. It is a way to fill our whole being with the force of love and blessing.

2. Healing Fear and Anxiety

I ask you to tremble a little because by trembling we can vent the frozen emotions within us. For example, birds and dogs tremble for a few moments when they are afraid and afterwards they can be calm. We will do other exercises to strengthen our body and heart with the grace of God.

Initial relaxation : get comfortable - close your eyes slowly - relax

Repeat with the intention: "Jesus/God, please help me to rebalance my energies and my life. Thank you!".
- Start regular breathing. Breathe in and out slowly      
- Begin to feel the divine presence in any way you like ... you are in the presence of God ... He will help you on this internal journey ... continue to breathe in and out slowly, gradually .... try to perceive the emotions present within you.      
- Become aware of the difficulties or core-issues you have now ... Become aware of them, one after the other ... start to understand the emotions and feelings connected with these problems and experiences, but without judging      
- When you are ready, begin to become aware of this experience ... perhaps the anxiety of the Coronavirus. The fear and anxiety that you have inside about your health and the future. Become aware of the images, judgments, pain and other emotions associated with this problem ... perhaps this is connected with a person who has done you much harm ... choose freely ...      
- Locating in body parts: Slowly become aware of its impact on your body. In which part do you find the influence of this experience or the thought of Coronavirus ... in the stomach, hip, chest ... where you can locate it? Start listening to the voices that communicate something about it.      
- Now you begin to remember the situation of fear and anxiety ... from the beginning ... who are the people or what are the memories that hurt or have hurt me or create this fear and anxiety? ... remember ...      
- What are the causes of this fear and anxiety? ... begin to see the situation that caused this fear ...      
- Begin to feel the emotions ... the feelings ... the thoughts that arise from this situation ... give permission to your body to do this ... and step inside this time of fear and anxiety ... If you want , you are allowed to tremble ... remember the event and tremble. I invite you to move the part that has suffered through this fear and anxiety. It is also okay to move the whole body for a few minutes. Jesus/God, our teacher is with us.      
- Slowly begin to tremble ... you can shake your whole body with fear ... this is the time to exaggerate the situation a little more...      
- And it's okay to feel this way … . This is the time of healing, and of the grace ...      
- Remember all the things that caused this fear and stay with this feeling … crying, trembling, shaking ... looking to express all the emotions connected with fear ...            
- Remember the event of fear from the beginning and the end as one watches a video ... do this with feelings      
- It 's nice to rethink all of this and throw negative feelings away      
- Repeat the process of shaking and shivering. Speaking and looking at the situation in front of you…. At the end, offer everything to Jesus/God and throw everything into the sea.      
- When you are satisfied, make a thanksgiving prayer in silence and open your eyes slowly.      

3. The Moment of Listening to a Positive Story or a Positive Joke

We know that some of our friars can tell some positive stories and jokes.

4. A Song of Hope and a Hymn (also in different languages)

We hear songs and hymns that will help to have joy and hope

5. Brain Gym and Dance
These are movement activities that will help you a lot. We would do this in two ways:

The first is to do the warm up , it is done as demonstrated. You can repeat each exercise 3 times slowly.
The second is an exercise of brain gym and dance (one can do it for 5 minutes)

Dear brothers , let's do some exercises in order to align our bodies, to take more oxygen through the movement of the body, to maintain, more or less, the health of the brain and heart. (We all have a body. But we hope that we all have a heart ... the heart will be here (indicate the heart) ... I think for those who do have one ...).
These movements are done in the opposite direction to that which we normally do. The reverse way we do the exercises helps brain activity. Due to lack of space we will try to do some simple exercises and the rest you can find by connecting to Uncle Google or Aunty Youtube .
Try to follow these exercises gradually. Each exercise should be repeated 3 to 5 times. Do it slowly ... gradually with breathing, and after a while, a little faster. Anyone who wants can add a whisper for example: I have good health and still with grace I will have more. I am responsible for my happiness and so on, I will do my little fraternal part to make this world a little better.

6. Spontaneous Community Prayer: for healing and to obtain strength for people who suffer because of the Coronavirus.

We thank the Lord for all the doctors and volunteers that serve in the hospital and in other places accompanying the sick and the elderly.

7. Meditation and Contemplation for Suffering Humanity:

Part One: We can take a few minutes each day to send God's grace to all those who suffer from this pandemic. Close your eyes and begin to feel the presence of God in any way you’d like. You can ask Brother Francis, Sister Clare, Brother Felix of Cantalice, Brother Leopold, Padre Pio, Mother Teresa and other saints to be with you during this meditation. Let God’s love and the Holy Spirit fill your heart and whole body. Breathe in and out gradually for a few minutes.

The Second Part: Now with open hands, bless all the people who suffer. Send the Holy Spirit and his strength; transmit that love that you have received from God, so that the world can become a place full of love for others. Remember doctors and the volunteers who serve the sick and bless them . Now remember the  abandoned , the elderly , the poor, the homeless who live alone; send the grace of God to their hearts. Inhale and exhale grace, love, blessing and pray silently.
And if you want, you can bless all the generous people who believe in others and share their goods and remember the heads of state and others who help generously, sent to them also this blessing and the grace which you have received freely from God . Pray that this world becomes sensitive to the needs of others who live in this period and have nothing to eat.

You can do this for 5-10 minutes and connect spiritually with the world that suffers.

8. Thanksgiving Hymn and Dance: Laudato Si O my Lord!
You may also pray the Peace Prayer of Saint Francis
(Remember like this everyday we can take the time to lift our body and soul with some meditations and positive exercises).

Brother Charles Alphonse OFMCap
General Secretary for Formation, General Curia, Rome
Self-Care to Lift Our Hearts