Mercy Mercy Me (The Economy)

01/15/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

I have never seen a ghost -- at least, not the kind that leaves you shaking in your shoes, white as a sheet, with eyes as big as saucers in a face that looks permanently stricken. But yesterday I spent about 45 minutes watching someone who obviously had.

I thought I would try to learn something about economics, so I watched the video of Paul Krugman giving his Nobel Prize acceptance speech in Stockholm. I learned more in that one video than I ever learned in economics classes at school. Still, I would have to watch it twice more to really understand what he is saying. I was riveted by his facial expressions throughout, though. He looked absolutely exhausted, and not just from jet lag.

You can see it even more clearly in the 30 minute interview he gave beforehand. He's trying to keep his game face on, and be gracious about winning the Nobel Prize for Economics. But he looks haunted with worry about the economy, wary of any conversation for fear of more bad news, and seemingly itching to get the hell back across the pond so he can keep consulting on various bailouts.

So here's the dilemma: any serious reading of the day's financial news -- just pick a day, it doesn't really matter which -- can make the average person feel the same way. But when I do that, when I lift my gaze and really study the situation, I become practically incapacitated with fear and am no good for anything, least of all working to improve my financial situation.

Lucid dreaming, being aware that we are dreaming, is a highly effective technique for facing our fears and transforming bad dreams into positive, even ecstatic experiences. People who are really skilled at lucid dreaming learn to treat waking life traumas in the same way, and thereby escape the emotional roller-coaster that most of us ride every day.

Staying lucid in this global economic nightmare for any length of time is beyond my skill level. I can manage it for a little while, calming myself down from the shock of what is happening long enough to write more, and work more. But the situation is big and getting worse, and it's only a matter of time before I slip back into shock about what is going on in the world.

Spiritually speaking, this is a tremendous opportunity to increase our ability to stay in the present moment and not spin off into worry or anxiety. When I get seriously off-center, I have a few tried-and-true ways to re-center myself and carry on. If I can, I take a little lie-down. This is my favorite technique, and usually after 15 or 20 minutes my natural energy comes bounding back and I can continue working.

If I have to stay working, I have a couple email buddies that I can send a quick "OMG!!" post to, and they will respond in kind. Just that brief acknowledgment is enough to reassure me that I am not alone, which counteracts the survival fears.

What I would love to hear are all the ways the rest of you have for doing this. Because surely there are some great techniques I don't know about, and this is the sort of time when we can all use as many good suggestions as possible.

And while you're thinking about what to post in the comments section, here's a snip of the great Marvin Gaye, live at Montreaux in about 1980. Enjoy.