Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.Eckhart Tolle
Two of my friends in different states of the United States were tested for COVID-19, one presumptively positive. A friend back in Singapore came into contact with a carrier. My husband’s school president is down with it. My father’s colleague’s son was down with it. I am blessed and privileged to be safely sheltered during this period. But just how close is the virus to me?
With every one-degree of separation, there is someone who shares a brief encounter with the virus. This coronavirus situation has brought challenges and disruptions to us all, and it shows us, more than ever before, how connected we are.
I worry for my friends and family. Since the end of January when the situation first caught fire in Singapore, I had been paying attention to the news, watching it spread to various parts of the world, finally reaching the eastern shores of the US where I currently reside.
I experienced anxieties over what disruptions this will bring. Sleepless nights, and being at home for long periods of time didn’t help. I felt disconnected from people and reality. I was watching myself being swept and sucked into the storm, spiraling helplessly downwards. Depressed, I asked myself the same question repeatedly, “What can I do to help? What’s my purpose in such a situation?” Of course, the constant interrogation by my mind didn’t help. If anything, I was proven right by my critical mind how useless I was.
As humans, we are control freaks. Many of us attempt to control our future, another person, things outside of us. I am, but human. My breakthrough came when I acknowledged that and simply allowed myself to take it all in—the anxiety, the desire to help, the helplessness, the loss, the confusion.
A surrender to everyday life
As the world slowed down, I allowed myself to slow down as well and observed my experiences more closely.
In times of uncertainty, there is little I can control. Accepting that tomorrow is always uncertain can help ease anxiety. I don’t mean resigning to my current plight. The situation persists whether I am anxious or not, so why not go easier on myself?
I can accept that nothing external to me is within my control and learn to notice the power within me. I do not give up hope because the future seems bleak or murky. I carry hope because I have the power within me to shape new ones. And so do you. We each have the responsibility (response-ability) to be with come what may. Where we can assert our control, that’s where we have power. Given that we have little power over what’s happening around us, how about placing attention on what’s within us? Controlling our attention enables us to alter our relationships with what’s around us and how we experience life.
Start by bringing yourself to the present. Live each day as each.
Set an intention before you start your day.
Tune in to yourself each morning, get inside yourself, and ask for an intention. Are you intending to create something, accomplish something, or communicate something? Put that into words if you can. It can be something as simple as “I intend to hydrate and prepare nutritious food for myself today.” I practice writing Morning Pages every morning to unload whatever is on my mind. This helps me start each day afresh. I then end my writing with a Tarot card draw to help me intuit the question of “What am I to do today?” This helps me create an intention for my day. As I face whatever chaos is swirling around me through my day, I remind myself of my intention, letting it guide my choices and steps.
You don’t have to manage everything; just manage yourself.
Take pauses daily to check in with yourself. How are you right now? What do I need most right now? Allow yourself to be with the emotions and sensations that are arising. Give yourself a hug and tell yourself, “It’s ok. I’m here for you.” On days when I wake up feeling lethargic or depressed, I look myself in the mirror after I brush my teeth and assure myself “I’ve got you.”
I spent hours on social media initially, scrolling through news and I freaked out. I had a panic attack. If you are like me, stop scrolling. Instead, look for community through social media or join a meditation group. Many support groups have been sprouting up on Facebook and Instagram. Take the opportunity to move from fear into a position of growth. I still get on social media to see how my friends are doing, but now I control what I take in. Be aware of what you are giving your attention to and channel it towards what may nourish you.
It’s unclear how long this crisis will last. To tide through this trial and others to come, we need to nourish ourselves so we can go the distance and emerge more resilient than ever.
If you need to be with others but can’t meet them, reach out to them to arrange virtual dinners or beer nights. My friends and I had a virtual dinner over Zoom, I enjoyed those two hours tremendously. We live in different states and we probably would not have thought of this idea if not for this coronavirus situation. So, get creative! Connect over virtual dance parties, create exercise challenges on social media, tag your friends and invite them to join you.
Head out to the parks and take walks. Be in and with nature. Being in nature rejuvenates me and prevents me from being overly self-absorbed. I deeply appreciate the spaciousness, fresh air and sights. Hearing the different tunes of different birds, watching the tall, thick trunks sway in the wind just calms my nervous system. I’m reminded there is a world outside of me.
This time has also given me the perfect chance to catch up on my reading list, and experiment with cooking. The more I find pockets of space to play and create, the more joy I inject into my day.
Through this period, I have also learned to appreciate what I have. Reading news about what’s happening in places like Italy, Africa, and India have humbled me extremely. I grieved and experienced powerlessness. I lived from a place of scarcity.
But all these aren’t going to help. A hungry person cannot feed another hungry person. My walks in the park have helped tremendously. Instead of merely focusing on losses or potential losses, I pay attention to what remains as well. I count my blessings and record my learnings each day, and grow abundant.
My heart is full with love, and I want to share the beauty and love with others. Now as I take walks in parks, I also recite my poems there, hoping to offer beauty and comfort to people.
Here are two poems that I retrieved through being with myself. I hope they offer you some comfort. We can ride through this together.