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Transforming Fear into Personal Growth

Transforming Fear

The world as we know it is dramatically shifting and things feel strange, confusing, and at times, frightening. Many of us feel out of whack physically and emotionally, uncertain of what is to come and how we are meant to proceed. Navigating the COVID-19 pandemic requires us to stay present in the moment. It requires us to commit to introspection, thoughtful choices, and loving, compassionate awareness.

We are interconnected beings living on an interconnected planet, and the global autonomic nervous system is functioning on overdrive. We know we need to relax and calm down, but internal chaos is galvanized by daily triggers. We have never seen such an unprecedented turn of events, as this pandemic continues to perpetuate a cross-national, viral war. In many locations, there are so few medical facilities and such limited equipment, doctors and nurses have to decide in an instant who must die. Global past-times and orders of operations have screeched to a halt, while up close and personal social engagement is no longer acceptable. Even the disheartening cross-fire of the 2020 presidential race is getting “trumped” by the global pandemic. These are crazy times.

Right now is a transformative and creative time. It may not be graceful or yielding, and for many of us, there is an eerily apocalyptic energy in the field, especially when we brave the wilds of the supermarket or drug store. Most of us are social distancing and sheltering in place. This can feel isolating and provoke feelings of loneliness, depression and anxiety, especially for those with preexisting conditions. Yet amidst all these intense feelings, the Earth is catapulting us into a deeply transformative time of personal growth and opportunity. We are being called to explore what it means to be human. 

There is no coming to consciousness without pain. People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own soul. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious

Continue preparing yourself for a complex emotional, physical, and spiritual journey, or as Her Mystery School founder Jumana Sophia calls it, “The Descent”. For the months to come, we will be taken out of our personal and interpersonal comfort zones. As social distancing continues to be the best method to mitigate virus dissemination, we are being given an opportunity to deeply transform ourselves and help others. As we sense into the global psyche, influenced by environmental, biological, and social factors, we are able to uncover wisdom hidden beneath the disturbance. It is when we are most disturbed, that we are forced pay attention to what is really important. 

I can’t run away from myself right now.

We are learning to not take things for granted and are building our appreciation for the simple things we are unable to experience right now. If you are accurately practicing social distancing, you are avoiding contact with friends, groups, and even loved ones (whom you don’t live with). You are consistently washing your hands and not touching your face. You are limiting your time in public, and infrequently shopping for food and supplies. When in public, you are staying six or more feet away from the people around you. Hiking and public exercise is especially tricky, as walking inches apart from strangers does not equate to social distancing. For more information about right practices, click here

This is a challenging time for people who live alone, especially elders who have limited social contact, or who are disconnected from the internet and socially-supportive technology. Many elders feel isolated, fearful, cannot see family members, or have minimally available caretakers. People who suffer from mood disorders, severe anxiety, and addiction issues will also need as much support as possible right now.


While you ponder these somber reminders, I urge you reconsider the meaning of “hardship”. Although we are required to shelter in place at this time, many of us are fortunate enough to have a roof over our heads, food on our plates, a job, savings, or stipend, and no sick relatives. This may change soon, or has already changed, but for the time being, it is crucial we focus on what it is we do have. If you are struggling, fearful, sick, or out of work, I am sending you virtual hugs and want to remind you to sense into your hard-wired, warrior strength. Various resources are listed below. If you do not live in the Santa Barbara area, contact your county’s online resource center, and view The Resource Project link below to receive ideas about what could be offered in your area.

Clarity will not come from control. Be willing to empty out, release any excess that is not serving you, and allow what you know to come to the surface.

Releasing Control

This is a powerful time to practice releasing control and sitting with the unknown. Attempting to dominate via antiquated, patriarchal methods will not support us to rise above. We need to preserve our energy and bolster our immune systems. That requires yielding, relaxing, tending, and listening. Even during those moments when you feel like you can’t crawl out of bed, attempt to be grateful and strive to maintain a positive, hopeful outlook. If you do not already have a meditation or gratitude practice, NOW IS THE TIME. There are myriad meditation apps and videos on YouTube that support inner balance and wellness (see below). If you need additional support, seek online counseling for immediate one-on-one support.

Self Care! Self Care! Self Care!

We are in the throes of a self-care revolution. Never before have (most) people had so much time to self-reflect, self-care, and self-love. Use this time wisely, as it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity. I recommend setting aside time and personal space every day to feel what you are feeling. Write it down, move your body, and emote if you need to; away from family members, children, or housemates. Even just ten minutes of personal reflection time will support wellbeing, balance, and inner transformation.

Part of self care involves letting go. There is nothing like a global crisis to reveal truth that would otherwise go unnoticed. This is a powerful time to think about what and whom you need to let go of. Who is aligned with you? Who makes you feel better about yourself and supports you physically and emotionally? Right now is the time to step away from the people in your life who weigh you down, talk down to you, or don’t reciprocate your thoughtful energy. The ones that matter most are the ones who are responsive to you and who tangibly show you that they care.

Media Fasts

Ingesting large amounts of news and media may deplete your intellectual and emotional resource bank. Pay attention to how you feel after taking in intense news or negative opinions. Although it is good to stay informed, consider reducing your total screen time. You can find out everything important about the state of the world in less than thirty minutes. Consider getting outside more, taking on a new creative project, or video-chatting a friend. The key to good health is calming down your nervous system (also known as, “regulating”). Consistently entering panic-mode produces stress hormones, which provoke anxiety and tax your immune system. Explore activities that assist parasympathetic nervous system response. This is the branch of your nervous system that aids rest and digestion. Yoga, meditation, nature walks, exercise, and soothing creative projects (cooking, art, music, etc.) are excellent ways to reduce fight or flight response (sympathetic nervous system response), and bolster your immune response.

Interpersonal Silver Linings

As much as our brains are wired for in-person human connection, social distancing has catalyzed new ways for people to connect with one another, albeit virtually. Before the pandemic hit the fan, virtual connections felt less personal. Now, things like Zoom, FaceTime and Facebook Live are helping people stay sane and connected. We are making the most of it, and people are being more creative than ever. I have felt more emotionally connected to my closest friends in the last few weeks than ever before. Think of how amazing those hugs are going to be in a few months?

And lastly, if you know someone who isolates or needs support, please reach out to them and offer an ear. People all over the world are stepping up to help one other. A neighbor I don’t know left this note at my door last week with a plate full of banana bread.

The power of love will always overcome the power of fear. 

Wishing you love, inner strength, and softness during this descent.

P.S. Thank you First Responders, including all the service workers, delivery drivers, and store employees who are risking their health to be of service. Consider leaving a gift or note out for your garbage man or delivery worker, or drop food off for a nurse or doctor friend.

Resource Guide

Telehealth Counseling

Romi Cumes, LMFT, CMT

Psychology Today
Santa Barbara Mental Wellness Center
Online Counseling Apps
Suicide Prevention Hotline
Nervous System Regulation by Dr. Michelle Hansen-Cardenas

Mindfulness & Teachings

Hope-based Meditation program by Deepak Chopra and Oprah (Free)
Meditation Apps
Adhya Shanti
Pema Chodron
Echart Toole
Jumana Sophia, Her Mystery School


Alan Watts
Brene Brown: The Power of Vulnerability
Mark Manson: How to be Alone
Jennifer Strube: Working w/ 5 Stages of Grief
Medium: Lots of Articles on Everything
Making Your Life Meaningful
Esther Perel on Why Couples Fight

Online Yoga & Fitness

Yoga with Romi
Willow Glen Yoga
Yoga with Michelle
Yoga with Nicole
Yoga Soup
Free Fun Fitness Routines
Dance Church

Addiction and Recovery

In the Room (12 Step/AA model)
IGNTD (non-12 Step/AA)


Live Streaming Music on Facebook: Live at the Living Lounge (Charitable)

I absolutely love this facebook group, which offers constant live streams of acoustic artists playing all over the country. You can find each artist’s Venmo or Paypal address near their live stream.

Tips are appreciated and help support artists who out of work. Support your favorite unknown artists online, they are mostly likely streaming for donations.

Quarantine Jams (a playlist by Romi on Spotify)

Elder Support & COVID-19 Resources

Free grocery and prescription delivery service for seniors, front line health care workers and those compromised, run by your neighbors. Pay at delivery! SB, Goleta, Montecito,
(805) 448 3788

Need additional volunteers? Email Romi

Interested in donating some of your time to support lonely elders in Santa Barbara or your community? Consider contacting a residential or assisted living facility in your area and ask if they have residents in need of phone calls or letters.

A few in the Santa Barbara Area:

A Message Regarding Seniors from Hospice of Santa Barbara

  • Social distancing does not mean social isolation, and even a potentially deadly virus should not force us to be alone. Now more than ever, people need to find smart ways to stay connected.
  • Learn new technology that connects you with family and friends. Most options such as FaceTime and Skype are easy to use.
  • Watch news sparingly. Stay informed, but 30 minutes at the start and end of the day is more than enough to know what is happening.
  • If you are in a senior living facility, share quality time with other residents. Human connections are healthy connections!
  • Call some of those people you’ve been meaning to call for a while to catch up or check in.

Covid Related Resources

The Resource Project: Amazing Local Guide for Santa Barbara County

Inspiring article about “Things to Remember”

How to Prepare Your Food

Santa Barbara Food Delivery and Pickup Options

Give Back

If you are able to contribute time or money to a good cause right now, consider learning about an organization and making a donation. Below are the last three organizations I donated to.

Feeding – Help food banks respond to COVID-19

MusicaresMusiCares® have established the COVID-19 Relief Fund to help our peers in the music community affected by the Coronavirus pandemic.

Gift Certificates for Bodywork

Offer healing and rejuvenation to someone you care about with a gift certificate for Bodywork with Romi. From deep relaxation to foundational healing, each session is an exploration into innate body wisdom, and a step towards a more harmonious, vibrant self.

Please make sure to review the following Purchase & Usage Terms before choosing your desired gift certificate.

  • These gift certificates/pre-paid session vouchers are non-refundable.
  • Prepayments will always be valid for the purchased amount, but they must be redeemed within 90 days of purchase or they may not fully cover potential practitioner rate increases.
  • If a gift certificate or voucher is used after 90 days of purchase, there may be an additional fee required at the time of service to compensate providers for the difference between the purchased amount and their current rates.

Introductory Session

Follow-Up Sessions

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