This is not just another post in which I convince you that the Coronavirus is a tremendous threat or that to say home is a heroic mission. No, I don’t need to convince you that the Coronavirus is a real danger, and some of us were already hermit introverts.
I don’t want to write or read, another article that says COVID-19 is the end of all things. It is not just reductive but, worse, ignores the more impending challenge – to harness fear into a vehicle for personal discovery and growth.
We simply don’t have time for fearful narratives
With the United States becoming the new epicenter of the virus, it is here to stay. For many of us, the only thing to plan for is next week or tomorrow. Challenges will only grow. But, for many, this is the first time they will have experienced isolation, severe anxiety, or grieved for the loss of a loved one.
Uncertainty, though, breeds insecurity. Fear brings more fear. It is more contagious than Coronavirus and may linger long after the virus disappears.
During these moments, I find that it is easy to feel part of a global community. Still, chaotic scenes of dissolution show that we felt isolated, compartmentalized, and jaded to neighbors before the pandemic. The virus may just give us one more reason to stay inside our homes or avoid making eye contact with people.
We can shift this mass hysteria into a collective realization by each of us acting emotionally calm and sober. Don’t worry, I’m not suggesting actual sobriety though there’s a case to be made for that. But, whatever you do or consume, make sure that it reminds you of the power of every individual. We each have a part to play in our local communities. Still, it starts with reclaiming agency over our own minds through resisting negativities that quickly cloud our judgment.
How do we stay sober?
First, I want to remind you of one simple, singular fact:
Fear is not an intrinsic part of our minds.
We weren’t born with fear, and it is only our bodies that are so easily triggered. Our physiology tries to convince us that there is a threat – with tremors, clammy hands, or anxious ticks – but we have the power to resist fearful negative energies.
Here are some ideas (four of them actually) on how you can reclaim your mindset and pull it out of the prevailing external fear-based narrative. This isn’t clickbait, I’m not writing to you while floating upon my cloud of consciousness wisdom. No, it’s almost midnight, and I’ve been on my computer for 6 hours and writing for 1. Still, these are a few methods that have merit. I try to do them as regularly as I can, and it helps me.
So take a breath and unclench your jaw. The only things undue stress and fear give you are wrinkles and cracked molars.
I personally don’t mind the former if they come from wisdom. But, I’ll do everything I can to avoid listening to some prep-school technocrat sell me on a $1200 teeth grinding mouthguard.
Alright, first, show gratitude.
Yeah, I know. Daily gratitude is one of those weird practices that the fake-awake spiritual people do as they wave you into a happiness cult. But, showing thanks during trying times can deploy psychological tools to reinvigorate our mind into higher states of consciousness and out of this collective dismay.
But, it won’t kill you to say “thanks” to the body that works for you every day. It’s a small step but one that can shift your mood and outlook. A mindset change can kick start new habits.
Here’s what I suggest. When you wake in the morning, perhaps adopt a mindfulness practice, like a breathing exercise or the Wim Hof method to boost immunity. Or, you can simply take a moment to express gratitude to your body for its health and perfect function.
Ask yourself in the morning: “What can I do today to reach my short-term goals?”
This doesn’t have to be complicated. Today I wrote only two: “Take a walk. Read over my writing from yesterday.”
That’s it. But, with those two steps, I found some traction. Then, after a walk and a bit of editing, I could continue on my day and eventually start to write this article at 2 am the next day.
Then, at the close of your day, reflect upon what worked, why you maybe didn’t do every action. Then, set your alarm for a reasonable, mature, sensible wake-up time and flip through your Instagram stories for another hour until your eyes start to cross.
No. But when it does happen to me, I try to just visually cast it and all my worries from my mind to sleep with a clear conscience. It’s a start.
Journaling all this can help but do what’s natural. But, now is not the time to stress but become more aware of your body and intuition. Connect with yourself so you can be a powerful force in your family and community.
See, that’s not so bad. And neither are those “happiness cults”! They have great vegetarian food.
Help the vulnerable.
It is easy to become lost in a scarcity-mindset because the entrenched systems have taught us to act upon certain conditions. “There isn’t enough.” “If someone else has more than me, then that means I am worse off.”
Instead, find strength by recognizing your innate power and potential for radical change and adaptability. We are witnessing the ineptitude of our governing institutions and how fundamental structures don’t provide for us in a meaningful way. More components of external life will show their actual illusory state, and how we frame our inner world will become more critical.
This is a tremendous opportunity for the awakening of grassroots movements and the rebuilding of compassionate communities – or to simply reconnect with those who tend to feel most abandoned or isolated.
Do you know your neighbor? Do you know the most vulnerable members of your community?
A pandemic does not see race, color, creed, religion, class, etc. Shifting towards compassion can rebuild positive mindsets and move our collective thoughts away from fear and toward enduring abundance.
Evaluate your transformational vocabulary
What are the words or phrases you are using to deal with adversity or fear? Listen to that voice in your mind whenever you hear something negative.
Does it seize up and stutter? Do you hear or feel feelings connected to words like “can’t” or “shouldn’t”? Dealing with absolute vocabulary, too, like “never” or “always,” is constricting, stifling and doesn’t get you on a path that is any different than the one you are walking (Except for thoughts like: “I never eat enough chocolate.”)
Breath is my blanket for fear. It’s free, I can take a sip whenever and wherever I need it.
A deep breath for 4 seconds. Hold for 4. Then exhale for 4.
Repeat after me:
“I welcome challenges into my life because I can and will survive anything life throws at me. I don’t have to have this all solved today. I am capable, and I am filled with joy and ease right now.”
The power of shifting your internal vocabulary lies in re-framing your inner narrative to build a robust foundational mindset. So, even under the most challenging circumstances, you can take action.
I won’t have all the pieces together every day. That is okay.
Don’t white-knuckle affirmations, but rest in their realization and try to live the expression of them being inherently valid. Because they are. Try and be mindful of where and how you receive information because the words they use can uplift or infect your self-awareness.
Finally, find beauty each and every day
So, with some light breathwork, maybe the Wim Hof Method to boost immunity, some gratitude journaling, and kindness to others, we’re on the right track. Now, it takes commitment, consistency, and perseverance to plant new mindsets to grow habits that bring us to our healthiest selves.
Now you are doing everything you need short of an orgasm to find the perfect moment. It helps me to remember that nothing is late, and no lesson is missed regarding your relationship with yourself. Every lesson arrives when it is needed most in the perfect manner.
That last bit, manner, or how and in what experience the lesson seems to arrive, is the most frustrating. Coronavirus will not bring about end times, but it can help us reach the end of negative mindsets, build new habits that make us more in tune with our passions and strengths. Everyone reading this article has had moments of suffering or powerlessness in some form. Yet, we’re still here. Still breathing and, now, sharing the sensations of this strange moment in history and looking to, not survive, but thrive.
My periods of despair, anguish, and dread also eventually led me to landscape vistas, new friends, laughter, and all the moments of life that make it worth living.
“Beauty is not just a call to growth; it is a transforming presence wherein we unfold towards growth almost before we realize it. Our deepest self-knowledge unfolds as we are embraced by beauty.”
John O’Donohue, Divine Beauty: The Invisible Embrace:
Immerse your soul in beauty, compassion, and love so we will emerge more connected and resilient. Pursuing your passions, your visions, and finding your most heart-centered path is inspiring and more contagious than fear. It is time for us all to get to know ourselves more authentically. The invisible viral threat is external, but perhaps the more grand challenge is to face all parts of our psyche and learn to accept and love each piece to be whole and integral.
“Beauty offers us an invitation to order, coherence, and unity. When these needs are met, the soul feels at home in the world.”
This is a paradigm shift.
I believe that we are at a crossroads between two collective awakenings.
Evolve or resume.
Crises can remap our minds and behaviors. We can be more fecund and bring new personal growth, new habits, original beauty, and be more open to life’s spontaneous gifts.
Be kind to yourself.
(You can read more of my personal writing on my Medium account)