Centering in the Time of Corona: The Work of Optimism

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Life itself is always a trial. In training, you must test and polish yourself in order to face the greatest challenges of life.

~Morihei Ueshiba, Founder of Aikido


In this time of uncertainty and unsettledness, but also of surprising kindness, generosity, and creativity, I’m reminded about the importance of centering and true power.

Centering — the ability to access our clarity, flexibility, stability, and compassion. A mind-body state of calm at the center of the storm.


True power — the ability to achiever purpose, to turn obstacles into energy and resistance into connection.

In my work, I teach these concepts through aikido activities I learned from my teacher, Thomas Crum, many years ago. They offer a physical grounding and a path to presence and personal power, which are especially important in difficult moments.

Just like you probably, I’ve had some amazing ki moments in the past month, and my emotional energy has gone through its ups and downs. Below are links that I hope will help you return to center, and to see the opportunities available to you every day.

A Gift from Genevieve Aichele at New Hampshire Theatre Project

Gen is a good friend and valued colleague in the performing arts. In this 8-minute YouTube video, Gen offers her beautiful presence along with guidance on how you can become more present when life is taking you in unwanted directions. Gifts of Theatre-Part 1.

Turn Enemies Into Allies Playlist

These five brief videos made last year about my new book, Turn Enemies Into Allies, offer reminders, support, and ways to talk to your team about centering, power, and presence, concepts which are sometimes difficult to pin down. Turn Enemies Into Allies Playlist (YouTube).

The Work of Optimism

The Work of Optimism: Creating Perspective on Coronavirus is a 3-minute YouTube video created by Six Seconds, The Emotional Intelligence Network. While optimism can feel like hard work and at times impossible, the Six Seconds framework offers “three bridges” that help shift perspective.


Whether in person or by virtual means, sharing our stories is a powerful antidote to fear and helplessness. Stories tell me I’m not alone, even if I’m physically isolated. When I pick up the phone or see a friend or family member on screen, and we talk about what’s been happening, how we’re feeling, and what we’re doing, my body relaxes and my thoughts settle. I become more present to this moment and not as worried about the next.

I also seek out positive stories in the news like the one about the NYC couple making dinner every night for a hospital worker who lives in the apartment below. They never see him, they just leave the dinner on his doorstep.

And you probably know the story — and may be participating in it — about the clapping that’s happening in NYC every night at 7 pm, to show gratitude for the heroic first responders and other essential workers we rely on today. This heart-warming practice is taking hold all over the world.

Good things

Molly Baskette, a UCC minister in Berkeley, California, writes:

“Good things can be caught from this pandemic, as well as bad. Already, you are calling friends you haven’t talked to in ages or checking in with your mother every day. You are pulling out the watercolors, reading novels again, watching documentaries with your fur person, cuddling your kids. The pandemic is revealing, once again, what really matters, and what the good gifts of life are that don’t arrive by two-day shipping.”

The Germ is Nothing

Talk to your family and coworkers — about the good things. Share stories about ki moments, centered presence and the power of living a purposeful life. Let these videos and stories promote a conversation that gives us a way back to what we can do, instead of what we can’t.

The founder of homeopathy Samuel Hahnemann’s belief was that “susceptibility is more important than the pathogen in any epidemic.” And Louis Pasteur said, in his final moments: “The Terrain is everything, the Germ is nothing.”

How are you keeping your “terrain” — your mind, body, and spirit — calm, peaceful and full of power, presence, and optimism. Fear is a far worse epidemic than any germ.

Good ki!

Written by

Judy Ringer is the author of Turn Enemies Into Allies: The Art of Peace in the Workplace and Unlikely Teachers: Finding the Hidden Gifts in Daily Conflict.

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