Will lasting change happen as a result of this pandemic?
Several people have asked me this question over the last few weeks.
Everyone at every stage in life is effected and everyone is experiencing some degree of loss and sufferring. It is this kind of challenge that spurs the deepest spiritual growth. It is not something that we would willingly choose because we are pushed outside of our comfort zone.
We can’t wiggle out of this one. In other words, there is no way we can change it. It is out of our control. The situation has to run its course and until it does we will have to find inner resources so that we can get through this.
If you are in a lot of fear I recommend taking all the practical steps that you can to help yourself. Use all the tools at your disposal like unemployment, mortgage assistance and any other program that might be available to you now. Make sure you have food in your house and other essential supplies and don’t go out if you are vulnerable or dealing with health challenges. Most importantly ask for help if you need it. We are all going through this and we are in this together.
After you have done these things the best thing you can do is take it step by step and day by day. Don’t get ahead of yourself. Your mind will always conjure up the worst case scenario. The hard part about this is that there is no way to fight a projection of your mind. It isn’t happening now so there is no way to effectively deal with it. When you are faced with a situation in the moment you will know how to act. Think about it for a minute. Have you ever faced an emergency like someone you love getting hurt or a having an accident? In the moment you jumped into action and many people report that they didn’t think it through they just intuitively knew what to do.
Eckhart Tolle’ talks a lot about this in his work. Stay in the now because there is no way to deal with a thought about a possible future problem. You can only deal with it now. Then he recommends once you become aware that your thoughts are causing you suffering come into your body and sense your inner energy field. This brings you quickly and easily into the present moment. First close your eyes and feel the energy in your hands it might be subtle but with practice you will be able to feel it. When your eyes are closed you know that you still have hands and you know that you still have a body. I know it sounds simple but it is an excellent way to take your mind out of troubled thinking and into the present. It is also a very healing and restorative practice because you powerfully interrupt a negative and draining habit.
Closing your eyes and feel the energy inside your body. Practice makes it easy, enjoyable and restorative.
The other thing I want to mention is a concept Pema Chodron talks about a lot in her work called Maitri. It is a Buddhist term that that means unconditional friendliness towards yourself. If for some reason you can’t focus on your inner body or it just doesn’t resonate for you try meeting your feelings differently. We don’t know why you are having theses strong fearful or anxiety provoking thoughts and feelings but meet them with love as if it were a young child coming to you for comfort. It’s amazing how quickly this can quiet the internal storm. No matter what you are thinking or feeling imagine you are hearing this story from someone that you dearly love and show that same love, understanding and acceptance to yourself. This is a practice that reaps immediate rewards because you let go of the internal fight. You can’t have a tug of war if no one is on the other side tugging back.
I love the idea of unconditional friendliness towards ourselves. We rarely treat ourselves with such compassion and yet we require ourselves to meet others this way. This becomes truly possible and less effortful when we practice Maitri. When we can bear our own suffering we are more able to bear the suffering of others and the world and this is how change takes root.