Preparation Without Paranoia

Emergency Preparation for Body, Mind and Spirit

Nothing that happens in a disaster that is not always happening anyway. Buildings crumble, things are lost, people die, the landscape changes. In a catastrophic disaster it just happens faster. What was there before is gone and something different is in its place. Sometimes people say after a disaster "There's nothing left." But of course there is something left - it's just different. If our minds are focused on what's gone, we will feel helpless and confused. If we can shift our consciousness to focus on what's still there, we will find that we are more grounded and more likely to be able to help ourselves and others. Like any mental discipline, it's easier if we have anticipated the possibility and practiced in advance.

I am a Hypnotherapist and I have also been a volunteer for the American Red Cross. For many years I taught Disaster Preparedness. Attendance was largely dependent on the length of time since the last attention grabbing disaster. From years of experience in Disaster Relief, I had graphic examples of the pitfalls of unpreparedness. If nature didn't supply the adrenaline, I knew how to induce anxiety by tossing out a few horror stories. I thought I was using the nature of the human mind, which seemed unwilling or unable to focus without some fear. But I had failed to fully grasp the nature of the mind. Fear can grab attention, but it does not necessarily lead to action, especially efficient action. Fear can motivate but it does not empower.

As my Hypnotherapy practice expanded, I began to feel out of integrity. It is my mission to help people release the limiting fears that keep them seeing clearly and living fully. In my volunteer work, I was reminding people that no matter how good things were, something bad could happen at any time. This, combined with the codependence that disaster relief work was bringing up for me led me to "retire" from all disaster activities.

In the 2004 Hurricane Season, the need was so great that I felt compelled to go to Florida and I found that I could go on disaster assignments with a different perspective. I applied the principles that I use every day in my hypnotherapy practice, while performing my function, locating and arranging appropriate services for vulnerable populations (see Open Exchange article, "Savior or Servant - Escape from Codependence"). I still did not return to teaching Disaster Preparedness - I still resisted teaching fear.

In Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, I watched as the national disaster relief system went into overwhelm and crumbled. A series of bureaucratic and natural events created the "perfect storm" for FEMA and the Red Cross and both ran out of supplies, and energy. The system was so overtaxed that virtually everyone exhausted themselves in the effort. We tried, but could not take care of everyone who looked to us for help. Those who were more independent (better prepared) were able to help themselves and those around them. Preparation made a big difference. Those who sat and waited for help became frustrated and angry and felt betrayed.

I wondered why people wouldn't want to reduce their dependence and vulnerability if they have the option. I came to the conclusion that most people just don't want to deal with disaster until they have to. It's not only disaster, it's change - mainly unanticipated change, that brings up anxiety and resistance. Since I had found that Disaster Relief could be done from a different perspective, I began wondering how to make the same shift for Emergency Preparedness - overcoming natural resistance, replacing adrenaline and the fear factor with clear energy.

If we have not previously considered the concept that we exist separate from all of the things we identify with (possessions, homes, jobs, even our bodies) we will most likely go into a state of shock and fear - feeling helpless and vulnerable. I concluded that a true Preparedness Plan would do more than focus on accumulating supplies and waiting for something to happen. Ideally it would include preparing to keep our bodies healthy, and also preparing ourselves mentally and spiritually to accept change in whatever form or time frame it arrives. In a major disaster, it's possible that we could be separated from everything we have accumulated.

I put together a 16 Week Preparation for Change that spreads the effort and expense over 4 months. It includes detailed lists of food, supplies and tools that would be nice to have in an emergency situation. It contains links to information, class schedules, and maybe some new ideas. Under each week's plan, I have included a suggestion of something to strengthen bonds with our communities, families, and personal Spiritual Connection. Also offered are weekly opportunities to simplify our lifestyles and reduce over-consumption and wastefulness. This can help us to be more independent if the infrastructure is disrupted. And we will be doing what we can to reduce the some of the unsustainable practices that have brought us to where we are today. We can mitigate the damage to the natural balance, while accepting that there may be major disruptions in our lives before harmony is restored.

At the end of this program, you will ideally end up with:

  • a plan for you and your loved ones (that they are all aware of and familiar with)
  • a better understanding of the possible types of disasters (rapid changes) you might encounter
  • some supplies to be used in case of an emergency
  • stronger bonds with communities, families, and personal Spiritual Connection
  • an increased sense of your own power to have a positive impact on the experience of you and your loved ones in any situation.

For years I taught preparation through paranoia and now I am trying a new way. We can't prevent change, but when it happens, we can be prepared to do our best and accept the outcome. T

Please modify these guidelines to fit your lifestyle, budget, and spiritual beliefs. I welcome comments and suggestions.

Lakshmi Collins

16 Week
Preparation for Change Program

Program Summary


  1. Evacuation Plan - Home

  2. Emergency Preparedness Kits

  3. Wallet Info Cards

  4. Who are Special Needs People?

  5. Checklist for People with Disabilities

  6. Disaster Preparedness for Pets

  7. Self Assessment of Ability

  8. Home Hazard Hunt - Fire

  9. Emergemcy Health Information Card

  10. Home Hazard Hunt - Earthquakes

  11. Hazardous Household Chemical Mixtures

  12. Emergency Documents

  13. Shelter in Place

  14. Combined Grocery List

  15. Combined Hardware List

  16. Combined Pharmacy List

  17. Combined Misc List

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