how can i hold heartache guidance in the face of a world gone mad danielle van de velde

How can I hold the Heartache?

How can I hold the Heartache?

Guidance in the face of a world gone mad

On the March Equinox, a beautiful group of people gathered for the Shape Shifting journey. This bi-annual journey takes the group of (currently 85) spirit-seekers on a journey into conscious creation. It’s a juicy journey threaded with weekly astrological guidance, deep dive coaching, talks on magic and spirit, podcasts and course content.

Equally important to this divine process that I have been holding space for, for eight years, is the community. It is through the community of shared intent and exploration that the real magic happens. Synchronous revelations, dreams and insights abound. Shared Spirit Guides and Archetypes inform the group. And the community is where each Shape Shifter shares their process, their altars, their goals and their revelations. And it is also where we seek support, acknowledgement and witnessing. 

Last week, one of our community members posted her feelings on Heartache. It was equally a call for ideas and perspectives, and also a pure declaration of Heartache and the Search for Meaning. The entire Shape Shifting community erupted in solidarity upon reading Melissa’s post and the sharing that ensued was so beautiful and powerful that I am sharing it here with permission from all involved. 

It not only holds some wonderful spiritual insights, it’s also a great example of how powerful belonging to a spiritual community can be. To have the space, safety and shared intent for transformation, that you can put a voice to your truth in the way that Melissa has.

how can i hold the heartache danielle van de velde

how can i hold the heartache danielle van de velde

how can i hold the heartache danielle van de velde

The mindful eloquence of this post is just so beautiful to read. Melissa ignited the community in shared heartache and some beautiful exchanges ensued.

how can i hold the heartache danielle van de velde

Tonglen and Phowa are two powerful energy practices that utilise the breath, awareness and visualisation to transmute the heaviness of heartache into a powerful source of light.

‘Tonglen’ means ‘transmutation of energy, and it is an altruistic meditation — that is, a meditation done for the collective, to transmute fear, anger, disillusionment, or any obscuration to our spirited selves. 

I explain it further in Chapter 19 of my upcoming book, Spirited:

“We are all interconnected. We are all refractions of one dazzling living mind. When we experience illness, heartbreak, loss, and pain, it is a personal refraction of a larger collective field, and it is rippling through our experience so that we may rise to heal all. This perspective is a big shift for many, especially those living with pain or sick loved ones, yet the change in vibrational state and the reinstatement of purpose and freedom from shame and guilt can generate a wholesale shift internally, which then by extension influences outcomes within our lives. You can find a link to my version of Tonglen in the appendices. Employing an attitude of service rather than taking an experience personally by viewing it as a common experience in the collective that happens to be rippling through you as you have the awareness to heal the whole, is a spirited move. This altruistic perceptive removes the personal nature of the reaction and opens the heart to higher vibrations that very effectively transmute older operating beliefs and fears.”

Phowa is otherwise known as Transferal of Consciousness. It is practiced for others usually at the point of death, to help them transmute their fear or past karma and move swiftly into light. It’s a beautiful practice to apply to both our personal and collective heartache.

And then this gorgeous perspective on Empathy and Compassion from Clinical Psychologist, Yogini and Spirit-seeker, Dea:

“Compassion involves movement and action”…what a divine gentle tilt here. And it is a movement of awareness to a spiritual lens, and actions that are inspired by spiritual perspectives.

In these times of turbulence and enormity, I always find my way to the wilderness for envelopment and earthing, and I give.

Our spirited community responded with open hearts. Too many beautiful responses for this blog, but an incredible outpouring of empathy and acknowledgement of the enquiry: How to honour heartache, but not be consumed by it?

And a final pondering, that the heartache itself is playing an important role and must be felt. 

In so many ways, heartache serves us. It keeps us connected to the human experience. It keeps us from the slippery slope of apathy amidst the constant barrage of world news. It evidences an energetic entanglement with people who are suffering in the world right this very minute, and we are able and designed to send powerful prayers and intentions along those threads of that entanglement. It’s a two-way flow!

And if the glare of world events is too bright, and like Mel and me, you need to retreat into home and hearth and hold your loves close…then absolutely honour that too.

That folding in to what is precious – home, hearth, children, touch, rest, creative expression, opportunities to love and be kind, is a draw to connect more deeply with what we choose for this world. The more we flood our immediate lives and relationships with light, joy, forgiveness and non-judgement, the more the webs of light find each other and grow. The response is, and always has been, what is your personal actioned choice in all of this? 

And if you, like many of us, refuse to become desensitised to the humanness of it all, if you are defiant against the constant stream of Covid case numbers, refugees numbers, numbers of bombs dropped, the statistics of a world in turmoil, and you seek to remain connected to the people within those numbers…then honour the heartache. Your heartache is a piercing reminder that you remain connected, beneath the bombs, beneath the pandemic, beneath your own pain, you are essential to it all. 

I hope this little insight into the beautiful nurturing exchanges within a spiritual community has soothed your own heartache and given you some ideas to step forward peacefully.


If you are looking to join groups, retreats or circles with like-spirited people, do get in touch or go to for current offerings. You can also explore courses and useful content on the website to guide you on your path to healing, self-discovery and mindful living. 

If you enjoyed this post and would like to share it, I request that you please credit Danielle Van de Velde as the author. I do not authorise repurposing or republishing without my written permission. You may email me for the same.

be the change danielle van de velde

Be the Change

Be the Change

Mahatma Gandhi inspired generations with his indelible words:

“We but mirror the world. All the tendencies present in the outer world are to be found in the world of our body.”

This powerful idea was paraphrased many years later, and continues to be attributed to the great teacher and pacifist.

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

Expressed over 100 years ago, it holds such a voltage, perhaps more so today as the pandemic, environmental imbalance and war shine an unavoidable floodlight on systems that no longer work – systems that are based on greed, power, selfishness and environmental disdain.

The timeless wisdom in these words is multi-layered, and at its very core is the metaphysical truth that Conscious Creation (aka ‘Manifestation’) is based upon. 

At one level, ‘Be the Change’ is a call to individual authenticity and action. It’s a challenge to ‘put our money where our mouths are’ so to speak. For example, if the change you seek is greater community, then fill your day with connection and acts of kindness. If it is inclusion and diversity you seek, then dedicate yourself to practicing non-judgement and educating yourself. If it’s kindness to all creatures that you seek, then stop eating them. If it’s a healthier planet you seek, then eliminate all plastics and phosphates from your life and home. 

And then wider still, through a collective lens, ‘Be the Change’ talks to the incredible phenomenon of harmonic resonance and the power of leadership. People are more inclined to be kind when they witness acts of kindness. Our mimic neurons fire up when we are inspired by group behaviour, and we are more likely to adopt that behaviour because we’re tribal and communal by nature. ‘Be the Change’ reminds us that the only way to effect large-scale change for the better, is for a critical mass of individuals to Be that Change, and the way we are wired generally means the collective also adopts the change. 

Yet, beneath all of these gorgeous layers is a profound metaphysical truth too. In ‘being’, we vibrationally resonate and emanate the signature frequency of the thing we seek – through our words, feeling, thoughts, and especially our actions. 

The more aligned we are to the truth and power of what we seek, the more powerful is the generative pattern that we vibrate.

This alignment in Western Magic is called a ‘United Will’ and to achieve it requires honesty, awareness and tools. We are so often out of alignment, and therefore, creating experiences that don’t reflect the change we seek, due to unconscious beliefs, fears or complexes. It’s for this reason that pretty vision boards or affirmation statements might help with setting initial intention, but unless the deeper alignment is found, they rarely yield much measurable change. 

Being the Change we seek from a magical perspective requires intentional exploration, new perspectives and is made so much more efficient when done collectively in an aligned community…and this is exactly what my signature process of Shape Shifting offers.

‘Shape-Shifting’ is a Shamanic term that explains the process of energizing a new reality from ‘the field of possibility’ into our experienced reality, through creating inner change. The ability to consciously create our experienced reality is innate within our design. It requires expanded perceptions of self and life and consciously working with the vibrational fields of intent, desire and volition.

It is an engagement through our intuitive faculties to receive guidance and dialogue with Spirit. Through shifting our inner perspectives, practices and vibration, we change the shape of our experienced reality. Shape Shifting reconnects you with your innate creative abilities and supports your journey into conscious creation.

Through shifting our inner perspectives, practices and vibration, we can change the shape of our experienced reality. In fact, we are creating our reality every second. However, for the most part, we are doing so unconsciously, and therefore experiencing less than desirable or ‘mixed’ events and relationships. The process of Shape Shifting makes the unconscious, conscious, and puts us back in the driver’s seat of ourselves and our lives. 

be the change image danielle van de velde

We have another saying in Magical Practice:

“The Anima Mundi loves a Rhyme”

This means that our phenomenal universe organises itself and presents as experienced reality, according to the resonance and level of alignment that we vibrate at. Our lives ‘rhyme’ with our inner state. With a United Will in context of the goal or change we are seeking, we consciously create. 

be the change image danielle van de velde

In the window of the 2022 March Equinox, we will together enter the Shape Shifting Journey again. Will you join us?

Registrations close on Friday, March 11th (midnight, Singapore time). Click the link to find out program details, journey planner for your diary and to register. And read a sample of amazing testimonials from last year’s Shape Shifts.

Welcome to a seasoned and proven process of Conscious Creation. Now, more than ever, it’s time. Let’s Be The Change We Seek!

If you have any questions or thoughts about Conscious Creation and the process of Shape Shifting, do get in touch. You can also visit my website to explore courses and useful content to guide you on your path to healing, self-discovery and mindful living. 

If you enjoyed this post and would like to share it, I request that you please credit Danielle Van de Velde as the author. I do not authorise repurposing or republishing without my written permission. You may email me for the same.

what the wild wisper nature danie danielle van de velde

What the Wild Whispered

What the Wild Whispered

Key messages for 2022

Mid January, I waved goodbye to my hubby and two teenage kids. They flew back to our home in Singapore, and I returned to my mountain cottage, in New South Wales’ Blue Mountains, for two weeks of creative time. This is my time to go within and create as much inner space as possible for my Spirit to express itself, and my direction for the year.

For me, there is no better partner for this annual process than the wilderness itself. Solitude, silence and dwelling outside create an incredible container for direct revelation and guidance. Specific, beautiful wild encounters and the patterns in the atmosphere serve both to reaffirm something that I already knew was rising, or in beautiful ways, open my system to new ideas and energies. The dialogue is always on and always sublimely poetic.

My desire for clear and strong intent and priorities for the coming year is the GPS setting for the dialogue. It’s not a search-and-find game, it’s more a dwell-in-awe-and-it-will-come game. The messaging can come from a clover leaf, a spider, or an epic incoming storm. When there’s a connection between the wild, my mind and my energy body…the dialogue and the revelations are felt, in every cell.

I’m so grateful to have access to ancient, untouched and protected wilderness. In these places, the interchange is always stronger and undeniable. And I respond to each message with a heartfelt promise and great gratitude.

Here are seven clear messages that came from the wilderness at the start of 2022…and the promises I made. I have adopted these themes into my personal development plans for this year, and also into my offerings for my community. I hope they inspire.

22nd December: A reminder of the sentience and presence of nature as an ally

what the wilde wisper nature image 1 danielle van de velde


There are the obvious ways that life on the planet, as we know it, depends on trees for its existence. Oxygen, wood, food, temperature regulation, soil maintenance, medicine, resins, perfumes, eco-systems, and the water cycle are only a few of the many essential ways we depend on our planet’s forests. And, underneath these obvious ways, there are more subtle energetic affinities…transmutation of energy to matter, relationship with light, ascending and descending energy circuits, non-audio communications.

We all have an affinity with trees. On my land here in the Blue Mountains, I have relationships with certain trees that are extraordinary. For over twenty years I have visited them, left them offerings, meditated near them, loved them. Trees, like all things, have an organising, sentient field of energy that brings them to bear. In Shamanism it’s simply called ‘a spirit’. And it’s the spirit of the tree and my spirit that blend when we’re close. There’s a recognition, a communication.

Sometimes, that blending breaches the ordinary perception and the spirit will make itself known in a way that I can relate to, in my ordinary senses.

This happened on the Solstice…can you see ‘Her’?

My Promise:

  • Continue to grow my personal connection with the wild Spirits of Singapore
  • Continue to offer outdoor nature meditation circles
  • Grow our reforestation and conservation efforts and increase my community’s carbon offset through tree planting

rosemary pine and lavender from the garden to decorate the christmas table and balneology danielle van de velde

Rosemary, Pine and Lavender from the garden to decorate the Christmas table and Balneology

A few weeks later I took these photos from my back deck for the Monkey Pot Magic group. These funny faces became Instagram stars for about 24 hours. Hilarious. And I was thrilled to see so many comments from members saying that they also have ‘spirit faces’ in their stone and wooden floors.

24th December: 2022 will require fluidity and adaptability

This was a gorgeous misty morning. It felt autumnal. But then we got scorched, then some hail and thunder rolled in, then a dry wind, then a bright blue sunny sky, then some more mist!

It’s impossible to predict this gorgeous mountain weather…you’ve just got to roll with it. There’s beauty in every expression, just as there’s beauty in every expression in life. I don’t say, “This horrible fairy tale mist. I hate the way it cloaks the garden and leaves mist drops on the spider webs. This mist is awful.’ Quite the opposite. I am transfixed by it.

So why judge some of the shifts and changes in my life so readily? Why not see the beauty in their expression and welcome them in with great interest, the way that I do the mist? This is how I stay agile, especially when I am unable to see too far ahead. 

My entire time here was marked by long misty days and nights. Mist was a message from the wild. Without a doubt, Omironc has created a thick mist and reduced planning back to the very short term for now. As it also forces the world into accepting the virus and its continual variations as ‘endemic’, I need to find inner ways to roll with it more smoothly. 

My Promise:

  • To view all swings and roundabouts this year as necessary pauses and redirections
  • To intentionally work with my words, and replace words like ‘obstacle’ or ‘block’ to ‘challenge’ and ‘sign for deeper thinking’

what the wild wisper nature image danielle van de velde

what the wild wisper nature image danielle van de velde


25th December: Hope and Inspiration are the vibrational Super Powers for 2022

This beautiful symbol of hope was on my trail early Christmas morning. A Christmas kiss from the wild! The early morning sun struck the fresh feather, lighting up the pure pristine white against the rust of a rotting tree trunk. It was as if it was spot-lit just as I walked past.

Feathers are commonly recognised as divine signs. They come from creatures that have mastered flight and air currents, and that are known for their song. Air is the element correspondent with the heart chakra and the agent of the throat chakra. In reference to my chakra system, this feather is messaging a call for higher perspectives and a heart-led voice, to express my truth this year.

I found this wild whisper not just strikingly beautiful, but also an affirmation of hope and giving voice to my truth.

In the days that followed, I was joined here by Sam Joole, the co-creator of the music tracks, guided meditations and the podcast theme music. In three very fun days, we recorded and did postproduction on eight fantastic new tracks. There’s still a lot of work to be done, but a whole new vibe and sound emerged. I started using my voice in different ways – tones, trembles, song, intoning. A total delight. All of the tracks are for Chakra Shuddhi Sequence which opens in April. The feather signalled the power of allowing the heart voice. 

My Promise:

  • To intentionally manage downward spirals of doubt or frustration, with wider perspectives that enable hope and creativity
  • To create new spaces for my community to gather, share and express our own truths and visions
  • To continue to create inspiring content through books, blogs, music, meditations and podcasts

27th December: Our Life Field supports our heart-led choices – get aligned in 2022

I love the time between Christmas and the New Year…that gorgeous and weird ‘in-between’. There is silence after the Christmas feasting. Sleep, curling-in, grey palette-filled days. I lose track of what day it is…and it’s funny how much I don’t care.

During these days this year, my garden shifted too. Bright blue warm days and afternoon electrical storms gave way to all-day mist and soft rain. The men in our family left for a week in the outback, leaving my daughter and me in this misty wonderland. We had time, to laugh and craft and cook and plug into our female circles.

The first morning of our girly week together, my garden had bloomed into a field of clover (Yoni herb) and water in all its forms – mist, soft rain, full ponds, running waterfalls. It was a living symphony of the feminine, enveloping my daughter and me as we reconnected with our own wild inner places as women, as mother, and as daughter.

We had needed softness, uninterrupted time, collusion on chores, own time, silence, conversation, sharing and adventure, and importantly, reconnection with our other women circles…and the wild provided the necessary shift in gear for a nourishing, fun and meaningful week with the womenfolk.

My Promise:

  • To plug into the wilderness each 
  • To nurture and cultivate the new seeds planted in the shared garden soil with my daughter. More shared experiences, more time together in the wilderness, more exercise together, more cooking lessons, more laughter
  • To expand offerings to mothers and daughters and spiritual practice for young women
what the wild wisper nature image danielle van de velde
what the wild wisper nature image danielle van de velde

Simple New Moon offerings at my favourite waterfall called The Pool of Siloam

3rdJanuary: What I intentionally dream, creates

I shared a step on my front porch with this beautiful being this morning. We sat side by side as we both warmed up in the early morning sun. The presence of the lizard felt significant. Through a Shamanic lens, it was clear ‘Animal Medicine’ – that is, when guidance arrives through the wilderness.

It was an unusually large lizard with beautiful golden flecks and it was very happy to stay alongside me as I slurped my tea, face to the sun. It transfixed me. Spirit stirred.

This was day three of my annual Vision Quest (well, my version of it). Nine days of stillness, wilderness and dreaming.

In Native American Lore, Lizard brings this exact Medicine – the importance of Dreaming. Lizard demonstrates that Stillness, Patience, Allowance, Light, Meditation, and Contact with Earth are all keys to enabling clear Dreaming.

Dreaming or Visioning is a spiritual act to establish a space within you for your Dream to make its home. We can so quickly jump to the ‘hows’, the action plan, the logistics.

I think some of us doubt what’s possible, due to the extended disempowerment the pandemic has brought. I know many of us have disconnected from our Dream or at least not given it our awareness.

Yet we all know that it’s the Dream which is the Spirit of any endeavour. With it established, all endeavours work with magic. Thank you for this powerful reminder, little Lizard.

My Promise: 

  • To create more space and time for my own Dreaming throughout the year
  • To fuel my Dreaming with more creative expression

4th January: 2022 will require agility in perspectives

what the wild wisper nature image danielle van de velde

Ideas for a new, beautiful online course began to rise and I started to write them down. At one point, it felt too small, undercooked, unripe. I needed a better view. I dropped tools, grabbed my phone and walking boots…and found this! Experiencing the shift in my physical perspective also shifted my perspectives of what the new course could be. I went home from my adventure and finished writing the course, in an entirely new direction.

It’s a two-way dynamic with the Wild. It can reaffirm and illuminate meaning or open awareness to new meaning. It’s all in the relationship and how we engage. And that engagement has to be intentional.




My Promise:

  • To intentionally seek different perspectives within all personal lines of enquiry
  • To intentionally seek different perspectives within creative projects

10th January: Taking ‘wishing’ seriously in 2022

what the wild wisper nature image danielle van de velde

After days of thundery downpours, the sun broke through on this day. And with that, my garden exploded into a sea of dandelions.

I can’t walk past a dandelion flower without stopping and making a wish! (I blame my mum for that!). I wish very intentionally too.

There’s so much in our childhood spellcasting of wishing upon a dandelion:

the pause, the distilling and clarifying of the wish
the importance of the breath and presence
the generating of the wish into the life field
working with the air currents to carry the wish far and wide, to find fertile ground

You could say that the elements of our childhood dandelion spells are fabulous metaphors for setting and activating intentions for the year!  Air is often associated with communication, connection, language, articulation, patterns, thought.

It was a beautiful signal from this sea of dandelions yesterday, that 2022 will require more than ever, clear communications, collaborations, connections, networks and contacts. It also signaled that it was now time to communicate my intentions and offerings for 2022 to my community.

what the wild wisper nature image danielle van de velde

My Promise:

  • I will use my childhood-dandelion-wishing wisdom to pause, distil, breathe, arrive, and generate regularly throughout 2022

If you have any questions about upcoming courses, do get in touch. You can also visit my website to explore other useful content to guide you on your path to healing, self-discovery and mindful living.

If you enjoyed this post and would like to share it, I request that you please credit Danielle Van de Velde as the author. I do not authorise repurposing or republishing without my written permission. You may email me for the same.

2021 the year of unity danielle van de velde

A Date with Death

A Date with Death

How contemplating Death is a doorway to gratitude and awe

I was recently treated to a tour of the Mexican Embassy’s 2021 installation of ‘The Altar of the Dead’ at the National Museum of Singapore, with my friend Katya, the Mexican Ambassador’s wife. It was a symphony of colour, celebration and gratitude for pre-Colombian forebears, ancestors, the harvest and Death itself. It was refreshingly uplifting and incredibly beautiful. Día de los Muertos and the Pagan origins of Halloween in the feast of Samhain have captivated me since I was little. Why? Aside from the full-scale celebration, beauty and feasting of these ancient customs, it is because Death is not only celebrated, but reframed in beauty and reverence, and this attitude is enormously liberating.

A date with Death is the destined experience for us all, yet despite its inevitability, and especially in western culture, it remains feared and ignored, demonised with labels like the ‘Grim Reaper’, unspoken about and unexplored, until that is, the day comes when our date is knocking on our door.

This fear of Death has been amplified in the last couple of years of the pandemic too. We have all been reminded, constantly, of the fragility and impermanence of life and we have seen so many die in an ongoing and daily tally from every country on the planet. As long as Death, our destined date, remains hidden, hated and feared, the bright pandemic spotlight on global death rates is creating some serious dissonance in some.

I have seen in my healing sessions, especially this year, a growing tendency to ‘catastrophize’ what might otherwise be dismissed as innocuous symptoms or sensations in the body. A small patch of eczema, for example, has turned into definite skin cancer in the client’s mind, or not conceiving in a cycle has turned into wholesale infertility etc. There has been enough catastrophizing for me to witness a trend. Otherwise logical, smart people are being affected by the collective fear of dying and are jumping to worst-case scenarios in a millisecond. 

In general, I believe it’s the fear of Death that lies beneath many of our serious dysfunctions as a collective…our obsession with eternal youth, overconsumption and accumulation of resources to stay secure and to elongate life.

When observing the beautiful customs of our ancestors, it seems that a very different view of Death served them in life – the cultivation of a relationship. Furthermore, there’s no better way to disarm a hidden, feared perception of annihilation than to honour it, dance with it, invite it to the feast and make it beautiful, to court it, to consciously engage with it. And in my books, the Celtic Pagans and Mexicans have got this gig down! They romance Death on an annual epic date!

winner of the 2020 catrina body paint contest in mexico city danielle van de velde

Winner of the 2020 Catrina Body Paint Contest in Mexico City

Contemplating Death is also a Buddhist practice that is used to help identify and release attachments to people, things and experiences. Last Day Contemplation is a contemplative meditation on the inevitability of Death. It falls into the category of Stoic Meditation, as it boldly focuses the awareness onto something we perceive as being ‘bad’ or feared. It is also a diagnostic meditation to help raise into awareness, our attachments to the things or relationships that we deem as defining us and bringing meaning to life. 

The first time I experienced this with a Buddhist Monk here in Singapore, I experienced a massive attachment to ‘leaving my children’ through Death and realised how much I was defining myself through my story of ‘motherhood’. It rose in me during the meditation in an emotion of anger and a heated discussion with the visiting monk afterwards. I will always be so grateful for his patience and wider frame that guided me into a deeper understanding of how much of my identity I had pinned onto ‘motherhood’. This event, many years ago, triggered a wholesale change in my approach to mothering and allowing my children to claim their own journey, which in turn ushered in a beautiful new freedom for everyone in my home. It brought a deeper, more joyful experience of mothering and gave me a licence to develop my offerings beyond being a mum.  

It took repeated practice and deep witnessing and then I found it – the invitation to gratitude, presence and an appreciation of the uniqueness of every moment. This meditation is not advised if you are suffering from depression or anxiety. It is powerful, and requires stable ground to work with it, and it is worth it!

with permission by natasha allegri danielle van de velde

With permission by Natasha Allegri

Another field that has opened up significantly for me over the last few years is mediumship. The irony I have found in dating Death is the realisation that we don’t die (or at least in the final, extinguished, puff of smoke annihilation way that we so fear). The consciousness prevails as a living mind! This will be a topic of upcoming writing.

In the meantime, you can start to work with my version of Last Day Contemplation, recently released on the InsightTimer app. I would love to hear about your revelations and experiences with the track.

All of us will be dating Death at some point, and whether you believe this will be the end, the beginning, or a return home, looking at your relationship with Death whilst you are alive is an incredible pursuit that helps you live more fully in the now, in gratitude and deep appreciation of the wonder and beauty of life.

If you have any questions or thoughts on Death and how its contemplation can lead to feelings of gratitude and awe, do get in touch. You can also visit my website to explore courses and useful content to guide you on your path to healing, self-discovery and mindful living.

If you enjoyed this post and would like to share it, I request that you please credit Danielle Van de Velde as the author. I do not authorise repurposing or republishing without my written permission. You may email me for the same.

how doom scrolling affects our mental health danielle van de velde

Are we doom-scrolling ourselves into a false perception of mental health?

How doom-scrolling affects our mental health

With Mental Health Day falling on the 10th of October, the internet is awash with commentary on the dire state of our mental health. On the face of it, it appears we are in the grip of a global pandemic-induced psychological epidemic.

All of us have, in one way or another, observed the real impact of the pandemic on those we love and our communities and we all have our own stories to tell. These stories are our own, and highly subjective. For me, it has been a frustrating two years of not being able to be with my parents who have endured serious health issues involving extended hospitalisations, major surgeries and significant loss of independence. For some, this scenario is a light one compared to what they have endured during the pandemic, while for me, it has been a daily deep concern and frustration.

Our personal state of wellbeing is largely affected by what’s happening in our personal field, and equally, the wider content that we are ingesting. What we read and the conversations we partake in, form our perceptions on the state of things, which, with repetition, form our beliefs about the state of things, and our beliefs become our reality.

There have been times during the pandemic when I have felt a seriously dark, heavy state within me, yet it has felt counter to my actual reality, which is, that I am well and strong, my family is well and strong, we’re safe. And whilst frustrated, shouldering higher stress levels and feeling disempowered in the broader sense of the world, we are still very much at the helm of our ship and thriving.

I started to observe a clear correlation between this mood when it arrived, and the content I was ingesting. I started to see that I had fallen into the slippery trap of ‘Doom Scrolling’. Sensational click-bait headlines, post after post on epidemic depression and not taking the time to interrogate the content and importantly, to seek a counter-argument to it. My sense of wellbeing at times was being affected by reading and believing a narrative, that the global sense of wellbeing was in a free-fall dive whilst the trend data is showing us that it’s not!

I was doom-scrolling myself into potholes.

Once I cottoned onto this correlation between my content and my mood, I adopted a far more interrogative approach to what I was allowing into my mind, perceptions, beliefs. I started to investigate and consciously balance my view.

I am fortunate to have an incredibly intelligent brother who has access to a wide array of scientific studies which he shares with me, especially when relevant to my interests and business…a large part of which is mental wellbeing.

The findings released by the Mental Health Task Force in July this year, a research study commissioned by The Lancet and conducted by a heavy-weight bevvy of Stanford University professors, shows very clearly, that globally we are adapting, have higher resilience, and have evolved through the pandemic. We are doing what we humans do best…recalibrating, redirecting and bolstering.

The study combed through close to 1,000 studies that examined hundreds of thousands of people from nearly 100 countries. The research measured many variables related to mental health, including anxiety, depression, and deaths by suicide, as well as life satisfaction. They focused on two complementary types of evidence: surveys that examined comparable groups of people before and during the pandemic and studies tracking the same individuals over time.

The study observed that early on in the pandemic in 2020, “average levels of anxiety and depression, as well as broader psychological distress climbed dramatically, as did the number of people experiencing clinically significant forms of these conditions.” However, in the latter part of 2020, the study observed that remarkably, “average levels of depression, anxiety, and distress began to fall. Some data sets even suggested that overall psychological distress returned to near-pre-pandemic levels by early summer 2020.”

The study then rejigged its parameters, expanding its geographical lens, including the Gallop World Poll that measures overall life satisfaction and real-time official government data from 21 counties, of suicide rates…yet still, the overall global statistics show that as a race we have rallied, reorganised and we are still standing upright and looking forward.

Of course, these statistics do not in any way diminish the pain, grief and anxiety felt by nearly all of us, the financial distress experienced by many, nor does it devalue the many lives lost to the pandemic. And whilst the research is telling us that globally, suicide rates are falling, we can all agree that even one suicide is too many. However, this research is significant and needs to take equal place in our ‘content field’. We are, as a species, doing OK, contrary to the click-bait headlines…and knowing this, in turn, boosts our mental wellbeing.

“… the astonishing resilience that most people have exhibited in the face of the sudden changes brought on by the pandemic holds its own lessons. We learned that people can handle temporary changes to their lifestyle, such as working from home, giving up travel, or even going into isolation, better than some policy makers seemed to assume.”

how doom scrolling affects our mental health danielle van de velde

This is just one significant and well conducted study in an array that are out there. You can read the summary report here. However, I do think it’s interesting to ask why we don’t see these types of stats as prevalently as we see the doom. I think the reason is pretty simple: fear and doom have a sticky intrigue. They creep into our conversations, they are sensational, they are shared and propagated far more readily than the uplifting, inspiring content. Perhaps we indulge it to feel relatively better about our own predicaments. However, the irony is, that they alter our own predicaments when we unconsciously indulge them, without seeking out and balancing our content fields with the whole picture, which includes good news, inspiration, stories of incredible strength, acts of kindness, ingenuity and grace.

From my own experiments in my mental wellbeing over the last 18 months, I have  landed on eight key realisations:

  • Our own mental wellbeing is our responsibility and requires conscious engagement
  • Headline veracity does not equate to quality reporting/writing
  • Opinion IS NOT fact
  • Seek out counter-arguments to the mainstream narrative from reputable sources
  • Guard your mind like a castle – if forms your reality
  • Be mindful of the slippery web of unconscious doom scrolling and click-bait surface-skimming
  • Balance your media intake with inspiring content and share it
  • Balance your system into sensory and somatic experiences, daily

The conclusion of the study at the end of 2020 and heading into this year, left us with this hard-earned wisdom – that we are active stewards of our own well-being, and when we live from this knowledge, we are far more resilient than we may think.

“As we look ahead to the world’s next great challenges, including a future pandemic, we need to remember this hard-won lesson: Human beings are not passive victims of change but active stewards of our own well-being. This knowledge should empower us to make the disruptive changes our societies may require, even as we support the individuals and communities that have been hit hardest.” ~ Lara Aknin, Jamil Zaki, and Elizabeth Dunn 

If you are seeking ways to bolster your mental health through Meditation, Mentoring or Intuitive Healing, please get in touch. You can also visit my website to explore courses and useful content to guide you on your path to healing, self-discovery and mindful


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