A few non-judge-y ideas for uncertain times - Christine Kane

At our Uplevel retreat last week – for the small group of souls who made it to Asheville – I focused on clarity and energy. Yes, we dove into strategy, but soul and mindset were the foundation of everything.

So today I’m sharing some of this with you, too. Below are some of the things I’m doing and considering during this bizarre world-shift we’re all facing right now.

This is not advice. At this point, you don’t need more advice. You don’t need to be told to stay inside, keep your distance, stop feeling fear and wash your hands. (Though I might encourage a bit of coconut oil for your hands to keep your beautiful skin from turning to sandpaper.)

Instead, here are some ideas and things to consider for yourself, your peeps, your business, and your work for the weeks ahead.

1 – On Fear and Emotions

Last week, someone told me she wasn’t going to give in to all of this “fear-based” activity in our culture. I was struck by the implication that feeling fear is somehow spiritually incorrect.

The truth is that how your body and mind responds to shock is how your body and mind are wired to respond. It’s why this enneagram meme describing each number’s initial reaction to coronavirus made for a quick laugh.


You laughed right?


It shows different (and pretty real) patterns we each have. Your emotions, feelings, thoughts and energy are tied into age-old grooves that, in a situation like this, are your go-to reaction.

That’s okay. Being aware – without shame – is the place to start.

What tends to scare people the most is uncertainty. And when faced with such fear, we may give up on “awareness” and instead search out anything or anyone who looks more “certain” than we feel. (Even someone who labels you as “fear-based.” Which mostly just stacks judgment onto your pattern.) In our current media ecology, those who are the most “certain” tend to be the ones predicting the worst.

I find that it helps to be aware of trigger words and stories, and how they get used and how they serve to add fire to the facts. (What Buddha called “the second arrow.”) I notice verbs like “plunge,” “overtake,” “collapse”, “ignite” and many others. These can be combined in just the right way to invoke fear, fantasy and fallacy. Language is powerful and often has nothing to do with fact.

For now, the thing that can help when fear (or other emotions) arises is to sit still and be present to it, feel it, and experience it. Sprinting into the mind, and trying to “figure it all out” tends to just keep the wheels spinning and thus, the pattern feeds on itself.

(Also – if you happen to be sensitive in terms of taking on the muck all around you – then consider doing an occasional internal inventory to see what’s yours vs what you’re just absorbing from others.)

2 – On Input

One way to respond to fearful uncomfortable thoughts is to stuff the brain so full that there’s no room for those painful thoughts to arise.

Consider all the free TV programs and movies that are being released. We’re giddy about this free entertainment now that we have all the time in the world to consume it!

It makes me think of the oft-shared quote from French philosopher Blaise Pascal. “All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” (This, in the 1600’s.)

Again, it’s about what we do with uncertainty and fear. One go-to response is to fill the space, give it a constant stream of “input” so as to avoid all the discomfort. This is natural of course. And so easy to do given how much input is out there to consume.

But there’s also the option of just being with what’s inside and letting it play out. As author and spiritual teacher Tara Brach wrote:

As someone who attends silent retreats every year, I understand that silence and space can be terrifying. But that terror eventually stops fighting and gives way to a depth of profound quiet inside. Filling up with input is fun and addictive, but eventually it gets empty and exhausting.

3 – On Nature, Trees, and Spring

Yesterday, I took my dog for a hike before sunset. The woods were so serene. I could touch the trees without following up with Lysol wipes. There were buds on branches and green was popping up through the soil. It was like an instant and expansive sigh. No coronavirus in the woods.

No hand sanitizer needed…

4 – On “Extreme Client Care”

Three weeks ago, I met with my team and started the discussion on how to approach coronavirus. At the time, it seemed like I was over-reacting.

But it’s amazing how things changed in a matter of days. Clients started calling in. People canceled their attendance to our retreat.

My call to my team was this: Time to activate “Extreme Client Care” at Uplevel. This week I’m hosting a virtual retreat – called The Virtual Vortex – for those who couldn’t attend last week. Three days of coaching, teaching, and connecting. I’m opening my lines for office hours to be available for clients.

Right now, I see my role as simply stepping into service and leaning in. Every day I’m gently asking myself, “Who can I help today?” Feel free to join me and uplevel your service to your clients, colleagues, friends, and family.

(This, of course, requires that YOU must be sourced. Helping people when you are drained, stressed, or suffering simply as a way to distract yourself will ultimately harm you. Being sourced means sleeping, napping, eating, smiling, and moving your body. This may not be the best time to start a new workout regimen or diet.)

5 – On Punishment

An author I admire sent out an email two weeks ago addressing the economic downturn, saying that this kind of strike can be good so we can “sort out which businesses are actually creating value for society and which ones are just leeching off the rest of us.”

I was struck by the callousness of that statement, thinking of local restaurants, personal trainers, chefs, retreat centers, massage therapists, hairstylists…hell, even AirBnb and Uber. That morning I had just gotten a text from one of my former clients who had to cancel a sold-out event for the 650 hospital workers her company serves – and she had wept all night wrestling with the decision.

It’s easy to spout off remarks like that. You’ll observe folks making bold claims about punishments from God or the Universe being angry with us or some such shit. But that’s just creating false meaning, and laying trips on other people.

I find that stepping away from that approach lets a lot of unnecessary noise find its way to some other set of ears. Shifts, transformations, and new ways of thinking will come from this, indeed. But maybe that can happen without all the labeling and shaming and blaming.

6 – On Isolation, Meditation, and Deep Cleansing

The April silent retreat I was going to attend in Tahoe was officially canceled last night.

I’m setting up now to create my own silent retreat, using this enforced isolation time to go deeper and see things more clearly – fasting from media, social media, over-thinking, and panic for a few days at some point. It may not have quite the same impact as an 8-day silent retreat… but this forced isolation can be a way to discover silence or experience insight and awareness.

Keep breathing…

As we are each discovering, there is no amount of “figuring it out” that will work right now as all of this unfolds. There are many ways to use this space to look deeply at what in your life is serving you. What is just clutter. What you absolutely love and what you will tolerate.

Stillness can give us the space to recognize how complicated and complex we’ve made everything. And how little we actually really need, or even want, from all of this “stuff” of our lives. What might come from taking the space to clean up desktops, Evernote notes, closets, old thoughts, old files and old habits?

7 – On Pivoting

One skillset to build right now is the ability to pivot.

My above-mentioned client has turned her global event into a virtual livestream seemingly overnight.

Another client, Jamie Broderick, runs the popular Speakers Who Dare event, which is happening next week. She’s made two big pivots:

First pivot, she made the gut-wrenching decision to cancel the event… and refund all attendees. Deep breath. They retained the space and invited speakers to create livestream experience for virtual attendance.

Pivot number two came closely behind when NYC shut down all public spaces. Another deep breath. This powerhouse lady turned the entire event into a virtual motivation camp! Her impressive line-up of speakers pivoted right with here, bravo.

Thanks to these pivots you too can catch this year’s Speakers Who Dare. Click right here if a motivation camp (sans the tent and travel) is going to brighten your day.

Any pivot is going to require energy and involve a learning curve. It means being resourced enough to wake up and see what is needed and what moves you might make.

8 – On Surrender

Having the ability to pivot can keep things rolling.

And, as with any challenge, there will come a point where you simply must recognize that you don’t actually have control. Some would say you never did 🙂

So the option to let go and surrender to what’s happening is always available. No, that doesn’t mean planting yourself permanently in front of Netflix with a bag of Xochitl Tortilla Chips. That’s avoidance.

Letting go – even just a little bit – means giving that mind of yours a break and seeing if there is a different way to move, a way that is not powered by fear, distraction, discomfort or yammering thoughts.

Over to You

You may pick one thing, or several for my musings today. Proceed with what feels right for you, and that might change from day to day right now (heck, it may change by the hour and that’s ok too).

And I know there’s more possibilities. If you have additional ideas or encouragement, share with our peeps in the comments.


  • Jamie

    Amazing stuff here Christine. You have a way of writing that is so clear and concise, I envy you greatly. Soul and mindset should always be the foundation of everything. I’ve found I have a strange relationship with fear it can be both a motivating and debilitating experience for me. We are strange things!

  • Eva Montalvo

    This is so fascinating! I have been all over the place on the enneagram, including feeling some relief and taking a cheap vacation initially, then going into an extreme shut-down while trying to exude a sense of cautious optimism. This reminded me that I am sensitive and tend to absorb the feelings of those around me. It’s really difficult to decide what message to send out to students during these times, so I appreciate your encouragement to sit with what IS. Thank you for this.

  • Michelle Thompson

    YES! This is SO important. It’s so natural to want to run away from the fear or other emotion instead of lean into it. I’ve even pretended like that feeling was a person sitting in the room with me and I just tell it, I see you there, I am not going to force you to leave, and I am going to carry on with my day. It might not help with uncertainty but I find it helps from fleeing. Thanks for this Christine!

  • Jean Moree

    Great words of wisdom! I have definitely been doing a lot of #3 – it’s refreshing and recharging! We live in a pretty remote area and a walk down our dirt road that follows a river is a wonderful distraction and very calming. I have, just recently, been trying very hard to work on #8. That, I think, is the hardest part for me because I thrive on the feeling of having control (even if it is, in fact, all an illusion).

  • SaoirseDiork

    Hello to all
    In this difficult span, I disposition you all
    Rise your one’s nearest and friends

  • Rika

    Thank you for your calming, encouraging, sensible, understanding words, Christine!
    I am gratefully devoting some of this now-available time to preparing & feeding myself yummy, nourishing food – something that has fallen short and has been for me a step way too big for the available energy/time during my re-training. And I’ve taken time to phone, videocall and/or write to loved ones. And yes, taking walks in the woods is equally rewarding here in Germany as well. 🙂

    I am intending and gratefully looking forward to devoting some time to at-home-retreat activities – though “activity” usually calls up far more “active” actions than the things along Numbers 6 & 8 I have in mind. I am also very grateful for the opportunity to rest more without feeling guilty, or succumbing to FOMO.
    Stay home, stay healthy.

  • Miranda

    Oh definitely number 3 for me. I’ve been running through the woods almost every days since my country (Luxembourg, the only Grand Duchy in the world) was locked down. It’s the only place with no people, with good energy and clean air.
    Running also keeps me sane. Spring is around the corner. Birds, flowers, trees. Everything is bursting early and powerfully. It is amazing.
    So in this crazy world where suddenly I am working from home while helping my kids with online school/homework, cleaning (because the cleaning lady is home too), cooking (because normally kids eat at school), venturing out into the wild world of shops (because we need food), going into the woods helps me to find that balance, that sanity, that health that is needed to come out okay at the end of this.
    Stay home, stay safe!