Reflection on COVID-19

Hello Beloved Community

It’s Alexis here. We know that you are inundated with words of inspiration and words of wisdom as the coronavirus moves across our planet sowing chaos and fear. Mainly we fear for our health. We hope that you are staying away even from Beloveds and limiting your movements as much as possible. And then we fear for our economic well being – if you run a small business it is likely you can only be shut down for two weeks before you have no business. If you have been let go from a business, you might well be dependent on unemployment insurance for the foreseeable and not so foreseeable future. This is real fear and we must each find a way to manage it.

When walking today I crossed this small bridge. It brought to mind that two hundred and fifty years ago, a Jewish sage taught: all the world is a narrow bridge and the main essence of life is to have no fear. Today we all find ourselves on that narrow bridge with only one choice: to go forward, one step at a time. Fear grips us, it totally preoccupies us, everything else recedes. It truly disorganizes us. There are tools to manage this fear if we but remember them. We can manage our fear with slow breathing, by managing our vagal system, and by using visualizations to bring us into present immediate Reality. Most of us will have to use these tools over and over to keep reminding ourselves, all of ourselves, that right this minute we are OK. And right this minute is truly all we have.

When we are afraid we are easily ‘hijacked’. It is great fun to disparage others, to look for scapegoats and to recycle our fears. But these habits are just a distraction. It feels good momentarily to share with a friend how awful a politician or a thought leader of any stripe is, but, it doesn’t do us any real good.

I have found two things to be most helpful at this extraordinary time: contact and structure. Since we live in the digital age, we are fortunate that we can hear and see our important Others without being physically present. Grandparents discovered the joy of the daily FaceTime with faraway kids when FaceTime first appeared in 2010. I know of some who even babysit by reading to an older child while Dad takes a shower or Mom prepares a meal. This is a blessing indeed.

We can take their family experiences and translate them into our own friendships circles. We can move from the three-dimensional world to the two-dimensional world, create the contact we desire with absolutely no fear of encountering any kind of virus. We can share words and images and videos that inspire and heal. The internet is full of very funny, creative cartoons and videos. Watch a few every day. Laughter is so important. All of the meditation teachers, local and international, have on-line resources. USE THEM

Perhaps you are already doing this. But have you thought about sharing a meal with someone? Setting your phone or iPad on the table at a prearranged time and having dinner together? Taking your time to have a glass of whatever pleases you and having a real conversation and not just about the virus? Are you sharing books and movies? Ideas that interest you? We are going to have to broaden our ability to get our social needs met. This extends to watching TV together so you hear and see each other laugh or gasp. We are all going to have to get creative.

The other thing that we humans need is structure. For me everything changed last Friday, March 13. Airlines shutting down, panic buying, stock market falling to unprecedented lows since the Great Depression. This week at home has been a blur, adrift in TV news and responding to emails. I know that for me I can’t let another week pass like this. I need to create my own narrative of what I do and eventually what I did during the great pandemic. A blur of confusion and upset is not good for me.

I think for most a routine is essential. It certainly is for me. I need to create structure and follow it. If you need help, get a buddy and support each other. I need to get up and go to bed at the right times for me. I need my morning exercise routine, and then breakfast and work if I am blessed enough to have it. I need to get dressed for work even if I am not leaving my house. Yes, I will probably wear jeans and you may be in pajama bottoms, but you need to feel good about the image you present to the video camera – not the most flattering of friends for sure. The video camera holds us more accountable that the disembodied voice on the phone. Use it as a friend, an outside Other that can bring you aspects of yourself as well as connect you to others.

Additionally, I need projects and I suggest that you do too. This is the time to start a journal. A time to work on that manuscript. To take that on-line course you have been playing with “if only you had the time”. Start a book club on a topic that interests you. And don’t forget the ordinary: you now have time to clean out that closet or drawer, paint the hall, organize your clothes. Help a neighbor. Remember there are many far worse off that you are – is there anything you can do? Send just a little money somewhere? These basics of life are very grounding and Life-affirming. Chop Wood; Carry Water. Before and after Enlightenment.

We are often told there is nothing new under the sun. While COVID-19 is new, fear is not. We have had much to be afraid of throughout our history. So in closing I would like to offer the following, the details are dated, the spirit could not be more pertinent:

If we are all going to be destroyed by an atomic bomb, let that bomb when it comes find us doing sensible and human things-praying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, playing tennis, chatting to our friends over a pint and a game of darts-not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about bombs. They may break our bodies (a microbe can do that) but they need not dominate our minds. –CS Lewis

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