How can we open to love in the time of COVID-19?
Here are some resources for you, dear ones.
I know it is challenging time for many of us, and bewildering as well because of how fast things have changed. Here are a few ways to stay grounded, out of disaster mind, and keep integrating our new reality.
There is no time like right now, in the middle of a global pandemic and lockdown, to turn to face yourself and learn to navigate the sometimes stormy ocean of your emotions and thoughts AND learn tools on how to see from a truly universal perspective.
What makes the difference in our experience? It’s really all about how you do two things:
1. How you navigate your internal world and
2. How you perceive the external world.
Let’s explore this dance of radical self-care and compassionate service, inner healing and outer understanding, local action and global vision.
Now is the time to stabilize how to take care of your body, mind, and emotions on a daily basis. Whether you are home not working (maybe for the first time in your life) or you are working 14 plus hour days just trying to keep up, you can use this time to anchor in new care self-care practices.
Start small. The “body basics” will make a huge difference in your life over time, but you have to be willing to change old habits. Here are some tips:
• Go to bed an hour early, and get yourself ready by listening to soothing music or a podcast/ audio book that calms you down. Resist watching/listening to the news right before bed or immediately when you wake up. Instead train yourself to hold your rest hours as sacred and practice good “sleep hygiene.”
• Drink more water. How can you create a game that helps you drink more H2O? I have a special glass next to my water pitcher, and every time I take a sip of water I pause and name something I’m grateful for.
• If you are finding yourself stress eating or eating things you don’t normally consume (maybe because your kids or partner or roommate are eating them, or because you are literally stuffing your fears), make a plan for the next week or just the next day. Look around and ask yourself how you can take one small action to better nourish your physical body. That might be to put on music and move your body before you head into the kitchen, changing your meal time so you are not overlapping with your housemate, or telling your family that you are not going to eat sugar today, so you have more accountability and witnessing. Keep experimenting and find what works for you. And do your best to not judge yourself; these are stressful times, so we want to be extra gentle and mindful with ourselves.
COMPASSIONATE AWARENESS OF OTHERS
If we get too fixated on self-care without understand how it is part of a larger picture, we can get irritable, frustrated, and demeaning towards others who we perceive “are not taking care of themselves.” I’ve been witnessing this in even my closest friends: “Well, they deserve it because they haven’t been washing their hands,” or “Old people are going to die anyway, who cares?” or “It’s only the people who haven’t been taking care of themselves who are compromised by COVID-19.” Not only are these not true, they are dangerous ways of thinking because we create an us (spiritual/health superior) and them. Sometimes people who have the capacity to take care of themselves do not understand the mechanisms of poverty, chronic illness, or abuse.
COVID-19 is an equal-opportunity virus; and because of this it has really leveled the playing field of who is affected by the lockdowns, fear, and financial impact. But please understand that it is not affecting all of us equally. Some of us are going to thrive through this time because we have the resources and support, and some of us are going to really suffer high consequences and impacts. Don’t close your eyes and mind to the inequalities around us, and also don’t let yourself fall into guilt or comparison. Open your heart to all human experiences, especially the people closest to you or in your immediate area. When we open our hearts to all experiences, our own and others, we learn to open to and hold the complexity of life.
I spent much of last Saturday in bed reading the book Thrive, and as I read about Arianna Huffington’s story describing her amicable divorce from her husband I felt myself starting to tear up. That was the crack I had been waiting for, and I put down the book and let myself rock and weep. I didn’t need to understand, or justify, or explain to myself why there were so many tears; I just got out of the way and let my emotional body release. It was cathartic, and a much needed clearing of a backlog of emotions.
Most of us are basically hoarding a bushel load of old emotions, pushed into the corners and under the floorboards as we rush around saying we are too busy and too overwhelmed to clean them up. But these crystallized balls of emotion take up precious space and energy. We must give ourselves permission to safely cry, grieve, rage, and witness our sense of vulnerability and helplessness. This doesn’t mean dumping our emotional content onto others, or intellectualizing our emotions.
Please give yourself space to invite your emotions to flow. Ways to move emotions consciously:
– Put on music and let yourself move your body and make sound
– Watch a movie that helps you access your emotions
– Keep reminding yourself: I give myself permission to feel and release your emotions
Those around you, both your close in family and friends and the people in ever-widening circles of your neighborhood, your state, your country, your continent, and globally are going to respond to challenging times differently. One person may feel useful as they sew masks for local health care workers or find creative ways to keep their business going, while another (sometimes in the same household) may feel angry, depressed, or hopeless. Give everyone the space to have their own experience. You can model being in gratitude, showing up in creative ways, and really using this time for deep reflection, but don’t try and force others or expect them to follow your lead.
Also understand that different things are going to trigger different people. It is important to communicate and ask questions to see how people are really doing. My quarantine-mate, Mary and I had a tense moment a couple of days ago when we put a food order in and I commented on how differently we ate. It was an innocent observation, but it stirred up some old hurts and beliefs and realizations. Yesterday we sat down and talked it out by sharing our own viewpoints and experiences and vulnerabilities. We came out the other side having more of an understanding of each other’s needs and perspective, without needing to make the other person wrong.
We can all do this with the people closest to us, and also as we read the news or think about other countries. If you find yourself judging or comparing or criticizing others, take a breath and step back. Look at the larger factors at play. Ask questions. Step out of your singular viewpoint to take in different experiences, backgrounds, and traumas.
Find one way a day you can touch someone else in your neighborhood or your larger community. Being in service helps your heart, mind, and soul. There is a difference between care-taking and true giving; when we caretake someone else we are often expecting something in return, and that we have to “fix” or “save” the other person. Being of service is offering hand to someone in need, understanding that we are all in need at one time or another.
When we are able to bring cheer or relief or a helping hand to another it gives us a sense of purpose and increases our gratitude. And there is scientific proof for the health and well-being benefits of giving:
“One study demonstrated that volunteering once a week yields improvement to well-being tantamount to your salary increasing from $20,000 to $75,000. A Harvard Business School study showed that “donating to charity’s similar relationship to subjective well-being as a doubling of household income.” This is the case in poor countries and rich countries alike. And the same study found that students who were told to spend a small amount of money on someone else were happier than students who were told to spend it on themselves.” ~ Arianna Huffington, Thrive
Here are some ideas:
– Reach out to someone you think may be lonely
– Leave notes or painted rocks or build altars out in public or around your house
– Make masks for local health workers (call first)
Using what seems like the apocalypse to expand our capacity is a good use of this pandemic time. First, while this particular virus may have disrupted your life in unexpected and frightening ways, please realize that humans all over the world are and have been dealing with this and much worse. Instead of narrowing down and only focusing on our family or community and how it is impacted we can step out of our immediate circumstances to face some greater truths. These are not easy to see or digest, but I believe that our capacity to create long-term change depends on learning how to step back and see the biggest picture possible.
A note: I’m not sharing these numbers to downplay the severity of COVID-19. Please please do all the things: stay home, wash your hands, wash down groceries, physical distance. (And I encourage social closeness at this time, staying connected to the beauty and gifts of this time as well.) This is a serious pandemic and the way through is to limit and slow the spread.
And we also want to put perspective in place so we don’t make this a singular disaster only because it is affecting us. There are disasters and deaths and deep despair happening on our beautiful planet all the time. And there are also births and brilliance and bold breakthroughs. Both co-exist. Learning to open to and hold both the devastation and the bravery will grow your resilience, compassion, and care. We are all one human race, and the web is wonderfully interconnected and painfully fragile.
– Deaths by COVID-19: 81,248 (April 7th, 2020)
– Deaths by car accident 2019 USA: 1.3 million
– Deaths by hunger 2020 to date: Over 2 million (9 million yearly)
– Deaths by malaria, 2018: 405,000
What to do with these numbers? Honor that life is filled with suffering and success, miracles and madness. Don’t deny either. Keep putting your experience into a larger perspective. This pandemic is not a personal vendetta against you by the Universe; this is a part of a larger cycle. There are always viruses, bacteria, and wars happening on our planet. Yes, this one is extreme, no doubt. And the truth is this: death will claim us all at some point.
As The Onion said in a recent headline: “Human Death Rate Stays Stable at 100 Percent.” It is not about when you are going to die; you are. It is how you die, and how you hold the larger cycles of birth and death. It is not fair, or understandable. But it is life moving. We can fight or deny it, or we can face it and make peace with the unpredictable, erratic, and sharp edges of suffering, death, and decay. This isn’t giving up, this is accepting and then looking for the gifts in every situation.
What comes to mind is a Buddhist parable of the mustard seed.
May we all use this time in history as a portal into a deeper understanding of both local and global, self and other. May we embrace our compassion, honor our humanity and vulnerability, and open our awareness to both the bigger picture of life and the tiny acts of kindness that change everything.
More healing resources for you:
Seriously… read/watch these
How to Avoid Viral Illness (thanks Gini)
Take a few moments to watch this youtube video; thanks to my mamma for sending it to me! Truly beautiful.
Podcast for Sleep – Sleep with Me
Music for Anxiety, Anger, Depression – Spotify
Grief Playlist – Spotify
Songs for Energy – Youtube Playlist
Volunteer Ideas and Inspiration
Be creative in how you can give back. It might be a donation, or a way to be in service to an individual or group in your community. Here are some ideas:
– Join NextDoor or see if there is a local community FB group already organized. Ask if anyone nearby needs help with grocery shopping, walking their dogs, or could use a phone call
Volunteer organizations for COVID-19:
Here is another inspiration I found doing a web search:
Not serious at all… good for your soul
The Signs in Quarantine (thanks Mary)
Family Lock-down Boogie (thanks Mom)
Some Good News Episode 1 (thanks Sarina)
Facebook Love Streaming
Visit my public Facebook page for live streams, lots of videos, and support with me, my quarantine buddy Mary Nicosia, and friends.
Lots of previous videos here
New: Warrior Goddess Training Book Club live with me
Mondays and Thursdays through April
1 pm Los Angeles, 4 pm New York, 9 pm London
All love streaming brought to you by Hierophant Publishing ❤️