Guest commentary: Tranquility in chaos | AspenTimes.com
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Guest commentary: Tranquility in chaos

James van Beek
Guest commentary

As we are winding down from a year of total chaos, many are discovering that the transition to normalcy is providing a stress of a different sort. “Normalcy” is looking different and change, even if for the better, is uncertain, and uncertainty is unsettling.

Add to this the social unrest that is happening across the country. Even though we are removed from the chaos, we are deeply affected by its issues.

We have children who have spent a year (and for a child, that is an eternity), removed from their friends and daily activities, which are not merely casual encounters, but an integral part of their social, emotional and intellectual development, and many are deeply disturbed at the prospects of a future that looks quite different from the one they left last year.



The economic impact across the area has many of us questioning our own move forward and the ability to recapture the life we all worked so hard to achieve. Some have even questioned their own self-worth. All of this has created an underlying level of stress, and even fear, that for some has developed in mental health challenges. For others, it has sparked creativity and innovation, which may open doors to unexpected opportunities.

Those who move here do so for the adventure. Those who stay turn that sense of daring into a lifestyle. That lifestyle attracts a certain type of personality … the one that actually enjoys pushing the envelope of endurance and some would even say, sanity.




Because of that innate desire to go against the odds, there is a common personality that develops and unifies our community and is actually essential in addressing current challenges. Yes, there are some who may need additional support in strengthening their mental fitness to accompany their physical capabilities, but if we simply think of that as a strategy, rather than a vulnerability, we will individually and collectively soar to new heights.

There is a reason why this area produces so many Olympic champions; it’s the environment that continually produces surprises, paired with a population for whom the word “can’t” is non-existent. It’s almost as if our current challenges spark our adventuresome spirit.

To that point, perhaps we should train like our athletes. Physically, certainly, but a major part of winning is mastering the field between our ears — the mind game. The strategies they use on a daily basis have been around for centuries.

Think of your brain like a computer and programming toward a goal is like setting your GPS. You need a specific address to get where you want to go. The problem with most people is that while they may input a general direction, they miss the details necessary to arrive at their desired destination. For example, saying that you want to go to Lionshead is very different than simply stating, somewhere in the Rocky Mountains. The latter will never get you to the lifts.

It’s also difficult to drive forward when you don’t take your eyes off the rearview mirror. Not only will you not make your destination, you’ll likely crash … setting you back even further from your objective. So, how do we avoid a wreck as we set a new course in our lives?

First, we must input the information in a language that our brain understands. The brain communicates in frequencies, commonly called brainwaves, and input occurs at a different level than output. Science dictates that lower frequencies are best for programming.

We consciously enter that level during meditation, prayer, or what some refer to as mindfulness. It simply requires relaxing, focusing and visualizing a desired outcome. In church, we are guided by a minister, enhanced by the rhythm of specific music, which makes us feel connected … that’s where input is most effectively achieved. Meditation might include specific breathing or chanting. Same effect.

As we release the chaos of current events, we can focus on new destinations, and the visualization is that GPS address, which provides the details necessary to arrive. If we want to go somewhere new, but instead, keep programming in where we’ve been, we will find ourselves going in circles.

So, what does that have to do with this column? As a community we want to help one another move forward. To keep on track, we must realistically acknowledge where we are and where we want to go. We must use the skills of an Olympic athlete.

They do not relive the stumbles that occurred during training or unsuccessful races … instead, they visualize crossing that finish line, over and over again, until it is real. They see it, they feel it, and even celebrate it. Once it’s programmed, they achieve it. It’s the science of success.

We are at a point where we have an opportunity to open new doors and achieve greatness in areas we might not have previously imagined, but we are the residents of a place that breeds winners, and we will not disappoint.

Keep on smiling … you’ve got this!

James van Beek is the Eagle County sheriff. You can reach him at james.vanbeek@eaglecounty.us.


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