We are living in unparalleled times in the UK and indeed in the world. Just when we thought we were over the Brexit chaos the Corona Virus is driving the country towards a standstill. Phrases like ‘self isolation’ and ‘social distancing’ have spawned a new language of separation in an already divided Britain. Social media is rife with messages of panic and calamity. How do we navigate a course away from fear and towards connection?
This article is not intended to be a criticism of the current situation or a judgment upon it. It is not intended to be disrespectful of those suffering illness or worried about loved ones. It is born of a belief that in these uncertain times what we need is more love and connection. This is our birth right.
So I throw out this question: when fear of a virus – or indeed any other perceived threat to our safety – drives us into separating off from one another, how do we immunise each other against it and come back to feeling re-connected as individuals and as community? My thoughts are these. Take them or leave them.
- Choose Compassion Over Fear
Include yourself in this. Fear is a seductive force. It spreads easily. Whilst it may appear that you have something in common to talk about or to share, the roots of fear lie in separation rather than connection. Be ware of investing in drama as a means of bonding.
Instead you may choose to be compassionate to people who are feeling low because they are scared or worried. It is natural for them to feel this way. If you have fear too, that is unsurprising. Be kind to others and yourself. This is the energetic equivalent of washing your hands. If self-kindness means that you walk away from social media, the news or other people’s panic for a bit and spend some time caring for yourself then do this. You could choose to nurture yourself by spending time away from devices. Kindness and compassion start at home. Rather than see this as ignorance, consider that it could be an opportunity to practice your own kind of wisdom. See what feels right for you – that is the test. Other people’s judgments and opinions are not necessarily an accurate guide. If they don’t feel right for you don’t take them on board. Alarmist messages do not provide an optimum environment for healing. An optimum healing environment is loving and kind, not fear-ridden.
2. Suspend Judgment
There are many behaviours and responses which people are exhibiting right now in the face of what is going on. There may be one person who posts updated graphs on social media with data on incoming mortality statistics. She may consider that she is being helpful. There is another who uses sarcasm or humour as a means of self preservation against the fear. They too may feel that they are being helpful. Another may start to blame the authorities for whatever they are or aren’t doing. They may feel they are championing people’s rights. There are others who spread messages of warning and yet more guidelines. All of these are OK. Try not to be judgmental. People are just being people and reacting in a way that is quite expected.
3. Enjoy Living Day to Day
When our routines are disrupted we tend to worry about our future plans. For many, routines and plans are a source of safety. When they are challenged, there is anxiety about the future. We have a perception of loss of control. Accept the natural emotions of disappointment, worry or frustration. However, see the uncertainty as an opportunity to live more day to day and be more in the moment. Step off the treadmill. If you have to take time off work value the time that you spend with your children, older relatives and pets. Value this connection – we don’t get this much as we’re all either stuck on our devices or caught up in the day to day. Savour it. Take up activities that you would not normally have the chance to do. Enjoy the relaxation. Value the smaller activities – your lunch, a walk, a lie in in bed. Be grateful for an opportunity to take some time out of the normal day to day. You will realise soon enough that in the scheme of things this will not affect your life one iota and is likely to do you the power of good.
4. Be Grateful
Choose to be grateful for what you have now rather than fear what may or may not happen in the future. You have no idea what will happen. None of us do! Reality is only available to you in the present. This is also where you will find happiness. Be creative about what you’re grateful for – it doesn’t have to be material. It can be the love of family and pets; your health; warm water in your bath. The more that you are present and take things moment by moment the more you can appreciate what is around you. It takes some practice. If you find your thoughts are in the future, come back to your breath and observe it for a bit. Feel your feet on the ground. I watched some blossom petals floating in the wind yesterday and even though it was only for a matter of minutes it gave me such joy and gratitude that I immediately felt calm and centred. Gratitude has a purpose: it changes your mindset and how you feel in your body. See how it makes you feel. Try not to see it as cringey but as a vehicle for self care. Even if you’re skeptical, try it.
5. Lead by example with your state of mind
You may think that taking steps to change your mindset to a more positive one may in fact be lacking in empathy for the anxiety that others are going through. You may worry that you would be considered ignorant or uncaring. Instead you could choose to see it as an act of courage because you are choosing something different which you know to be better and more nurturing for you and others around you. Consider this:
Imagine there is an orchard where the trees are unable to grow. There was a blight that hit the orchard and life has been hard for the saplings that survived. They have all chosen to face to the north and to feel the cold and the wind. They have always done this because all of the other trees have always done this and this is the only way that they know. One tree finds a patch of light. Some of the other trees may be jealous of the tree because it has found sunshine. They may think that this tree is selfish. But soon they come to see that the tree in the light is growing and bearing apples. They copy the tree and reach up their branches towards the sunshine. They too then start growing and bearing apples. The orchard is once again blooming.
With much love,