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"Iceberg Straight Ahead": We need to care for our brain health NOW!

This morning at 3 AM I woke to these three words running through my head. As my mind came into a foggy focus, I felt as if I was high above in the crows nest of a ship, watching as a massive iceberg approached my view. I felt the panic to reach for my binoculars, to double check my foolish vision. I felt the urge to phone down to the bridge and scream my extensive concern, "Iceberg Straight Ahead!"

As I started to wake up and come to my senses, I was not sure if I was dreaming or if these words were a whisper from God. It truly does not matter. What matters is the message. The message could not be more clear: The iceberg, our mental health, is straight ahead. And we, as a society, are on a collision course for this massive force of ice.

For those of you who know me, you can understand my message by now. Those of you who do not, I am in the business of yoga and mindfulness. Hearing these words, in the middle of the night, "iceberg ahead," made no sense to me until I took time to reflect and think about the work we do with BRAIN HEALTH. At Challenge To Change, we strive to give social emotional learning to students, teachers, parents and practitioners through the practices of yoga and mindfulness. We teach all who will listen to enter "The Pause." The Pause is the moment between each action and reaction. This is the time we need to take to connect mind, body and breath and check in with how we are feeling. This Pause is where the magic happens and we decipher what our next move is. The Pause is what I feel we are lacking so badly in our society. The lack of this is leading our society down the road of brain health issues we may not be able to come back from.

As I continued to lie awake my mind brought to light the movie "Titanic." I began to reflect on the two poor souls who first saw the glint of iceberg on that cold fateful night on the Atlantic. I could only imagine the panic they felt and the urgency their voices screamed as they shared with the bridge their worst fear of a catastrophic collision and the safety for all souls aboard that maiden and final voyage. They knew, before anyone else, what fate was about to happen. The Titanic, our society, is on a collision course with brain heath in a magnitude we can not even begin to understand.

Now, a century later, after the demise of the Titanic's unfinished trip to America, we still discuss the tragedy. We study each move our friends in the crows nest made. We discuss at length the timeline of events leading to the final sinking of the ghost ship we explore today. We memorialize what could have been avoided with an "if" or a "then." We know, in retrospect, all could have been avoided if we just cooled our jets in crossing the sea. We instead know the end result. History teaches us the need for speed to be the fastest voyage across the ocean now gives us the horror tale we love to watch in the cinema. Is this what we want for our society today? Is this what we want to look back on a century from now and say "if" and "then?"

As 4 AM rolled around, I began to think of the work we do at Challenge To Change, yet how so many people, of all walks of life, are not receiving access to the necessary tools and strategies we teach. Our team, on a daily basis, strives to teach how to enter into "The Pause". How to check in with how we are feeling and how it can effect how we treat ourselves and treat others around us. In one of our secondary lessons, we teach about the iceberg of mental health. We teach middle school students how we can see the tip of the iceberg sitting majestically on the water, but never do we see what lies below the surface. Often, below the surface, there is so much more than what appears to the naked eye. Such, is the view our society takes with our increasing need for a mental health intervention. We often look at people, the tip of the iceberg, and label them. We label them with emotions we think they are feeling. Happy. Sad. Angry. Okay. Fine. But how often do we really, as a society, take time to dive deep into the waters below and truly understand the mounting brain health issue in our society?

By 5 AM, I had given up on sleep and began to prepare myself for another day of practicing what I preach. Of talking the talk and walking the walk of sharing with all who will listen how to "connect their smart mind, to their kind heart so they can have a calm body." As the sun began to rise over my city I knew there was something I had to do to help this catastrophic collision course of society meets mental health. I have already committed my life's work to educate on social emotional health but as the beacons of yellow crossed the horizon, I knew my purpose was renewed. For so many of the souls aboard the Titanic, they never saw the light of day again. They were never awakened to a new dawn of hope. I knew, just as sure as the sun was rising, we ALL, as a society, need to RISE UP and PAY ATTENTION to the iceberg straight ahead. We need to bring awareness to the glaring light right in front of us. We need to act NOW!

In my next few blogs, I commit to share strategies to help those who are suffering. I also commit to offer strategies to those who are well and can use them to stay well. Today, I leave you with the first ray of hope: PAY ATTENTION. All the icebergs around you can look the same and appear glamorous against the light, but what is really going on beneath the surface. We all have a bottom to our iceberg that tells a story of where we have been and how deep our roots go. We should not always assume each edge is the same or curve is as sharp as the next. Remember, everyone is doing the best that they can with the information they are taking in, just like our friends in the crows nest.

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