This morning I pulled card 40 in my Lojong/Compassion practice. I thought this was the perfect topic to write on for my blog. In the here and now of the worlds everyday experience the "wrong" that this card is speaking to is the difficult circumstances we are all presented with the Coronavirus pandemic. This is a shared experience of all beings, so I think it is safe to say that all beings are in this together. As a psychologist I am aware that this experience is resulting in a lot of fear for my patients and for humanity at large. We are all presented with the same uncertainty and doubt, the big unknown who in our lives and in the general population will be struck next. Will I experience this virus, will it be my beloved, my children, my grandchildren, extended family, friends, colleagues or neighbors? No one really knows how, when, where or why. All of these pervasive unknowns are creating a lot of fear in the world. This fear is resulting in panic for goods, such as paper products, household cleaners, food and water. This hoarding of products is creating a lack and panic for others to not have the everyday necessities. This is creating a shared experience of pain and suffering.
When we experience fear, panic, uncertainty and the impermanence of life/death. Our minds are sent into danger modality, we have triggered the automatic response of flight, fight or freeze. This invisible, unknown perceived threat results in the prefrontal cortex of our brains shutting down and our primitive mind/emotions taking over. This is the mechanism that results in the fight, flight and freeze response. This response can and does result in anxiety and panic disorder for many. When adrenaline and cortisol flood the nervous system, what we notice is shallow breathing, increased heart rate, and what I call the elephant sitting on my chest syndrome. This can feel life threatening to many and it may result in some people thinking that they are having a heart attack. This feeling of constriction in our chests/possible heart attack could present a dangerous visit to the emergency room which could result in possible exposure to the Coronavirus. If you are prone to anxiety and panic disorder this is a time to sit down breath very slowly, meditate if that is your go to or utilize yoga, or tapping to help calm yourself down.
This is a time of choice in our lives. Do we relax into what frightens us or soften into our fears? Will we lean into our heart or do we respond with fear, prejudice, greed, hatred and ignorance? The problem with functioning from our primitive mind means that people are prone to swarm to the markets scouring for foods, filling their carts with paper products and cleaning supplies leaving a lack of supply for others. This creates a climate of scarcity. This then presents a climate of the haves and the have nots. In our fearful attempts to take care of ourselves we have forgotten about our brothers and sisters needs. I just have to put something true and funny in here, the toilet paper situation is so bad that my daughter in law had to purchase toilet paper from Norway for her family. This seems a little insane for a country that has an abundance of everything that we have run out of toilet paper, paper towels, and cleaning supplies to name a few. What people don’t seem to realize is that their unconscious attempts to protect themselves has created an unsafe and fearful experience for others.
So, what is the choice here, are we going to respond with love or fear? Are we going to perpetuate fear, prejudice, greed, hatred and ignorance? How do you want to respond in this world crisis? Do you want to look for the good in others and yourself? Do you want to be grateful and generous to others with acts of kindness? As humanity we have a choice to do things differently to change our minds so we can change the world.
We are presented with difficult circumstances in the here and now- the pandemic/Covid-19 is not going away today or tomorrow. At this time, we don’t even know when things will begin to correct themselves and the numbers begin to trend down. What do we want our intentions to be, do we want to use this time of suffering to join together and have a greater good? Will this pandemic open us all up or destroy us in the process of trying to beat it and beat each other to the market for a roll of toilet paper? Through this shared experience of suffering we are called to hear the voices of all of our brothers and sisters as a call for love for help! We have a choice to remain in our suffering, darkness, fear and make it all about “me” or we can rise to the occasion and share our gifts with others. This is a time in our lives when we are being called to embrace the unknown, that we cannot change the circumstances in our world, but we can change our experiences in the world one person at a time. We cannot change others, but we can all change our minds and how we see and experience each other and the world at large.
A wise man, Dr. Kenneth Wapnick once told me and others that were fortunate enough to hear him, “we are all from the same shattered pane of glass.” No matter what it looks like in the world we are all brothers and sisters. We all suffer, and we all want love. Be kind to all beings as we are all fighting the same virus.
Practice Loving Kindness and Compassion:
· May all beings be free of suffering and the root of all suffering.
· May we be safe and free of the virus
· May we be free of anger, fear and worries
· May we all be free of indifference towards each other
· May we all be free of greed and cravings
· May we all be mindful or our unconscious dark side.
May we all practice generosity, love, kindness and compassion towards each other in these difficult days ahead. Who do you want to be and what do you want to be known for, what is your legacy?