The world is in a challenging place. Our lives have been shifted into uncharted territory as the coronavirus, Covid-19, reaps havoc with economies, societies and global balance. It’s rather humbling to have the world grind to a halt by a sub-microscopic piece of genetic material. Scientific definitions aside, we are called to respond to a scenario that sources — often the media — deem calamitous at best, catastrophic at worst. Yet, I propose a different perspective, one that is not driven by fear, but instead more gracious and magnanimous.
First of all, fear does nothing useful. It numbs the mind and fuels reactive, panic-based self-centeredness. Consider a spark landing amidst a dry pine forest. Fire erupts and undoubtedly must be contained. Fearful responses are like winds that whip the blaze into an unfettered inferno. Reasoned strategies contain, control and ultimately eliminate the threat. Our behaviors, which arise first in thought, determine whether the coronavirus will gain further destructive power or, alternately, provide opportunities to ennoble us.
The spiritual world is not separate from the physical. It is the subtle canvas upon which the picture of matter is painted. We, however, get to choose and express the color palate it manifests through our thoughts and deeds. One set of choices results in a gloriously expansive masterpiece; another depicts the cruel hues of defeatism, depression and self-centeredness. Each of us selects our contribution to the painting by how we respond to what’s before us, moment by moment, day by day.
Naturally, I advocate for making this an opportunity to shine. I know times are difficult, especially for those who are ill or economically deprived. Life often isn’t easy, but it’s always impacted by choices. Giving in to the temptation to shrink, withdraw and focus only on “us four and no more” is a perfect recipe for social/global dysfunction that could be avoided by different choices, by conscious opposition to whatever is contractive. Counter fear with courage, panic with calmness, and meanness with generosity.
There is a reason why spiritual traditions discuss proper attitudes and behaviors. It’s because we need how-to-live principles that apply to all circumstances, good and bad. Why is this important? Because we thrive or suffer according to how well we adhere to, or violate, the laws of natural order. Yes, I snuck spirituality into the mix. Ironically, one needn’t subscribe to any faith to acknowledge that harmony is preferable to inharmony, that love, joy and peace are more attractive than hate, despair or violence. This is common sense. Life-enhancing behaviors promote personal well-being and social good.
That said, what can we do in the face of the current situation? I’ll make several suggestions — yet preface all by this counsel, “Do that which ennobles, expands and assists. Refrain from that which diminishes, constricts or deprives.” Hopefully these points will seem reasonable and easily put into practice.
Start with the body/mind. Be prudent and socially responsible, but not fearful. Fear compromises the immune system and, in the case of a contagious disease, it is self-defeating. We’ve all read the news to understand issues and responses. Add to these whatever promotes health from the inside out: Proper hygiene, diet and, as amenable, immune-enhancing supplements. Exercise and get fresh air and sunshine. Yes, breathe deeply. Relax.
Stress and tension deplete energy, so if you can, practice skills designed to recharge and renew. This may sound esoteric, but such skills are common in Yoga, tai chi or qigong circles. A genuine smile is said to distribute life force — prana/chi — to every body cell. The happy person is less subject to disease because happiness attracts a greater supply of life energy into the body. Maintaining a positive, joyful attitude is exactly the right thing to do. Fast from worry.
Watch comedies, laugh, and practice appreciation and gratitude. You’d be amazed how deprivation can highlight the abundance we ordinarily overlook — or help foster insights about things we might take for granted. A grateful heart is a powerful force, as is compassion.
Unfortunately, people have been encouraged to stockpile. This generates a mentality that prompts a secondary “illness,” greed. If everyone considered the needs of others, they’d revisit the desire to hoard. We have an abundance of goods that will remain if we don’t participate in frenzied buying. While at the store, recognize that excessive buying may cause another to go without. Get only what you require so others can too. Seem simplistic? It is. This isn’t astrophysics; it’s consideration. Just as a micro-organism can bring the world to a halt, basic expressions of loving kindness can help the wheels of global order continue to move smoothly.
Lastly, yet most importantly, nourish the inner being. What frees people from suffering? Will money do so? Will toilet paper? Ultimately, nothing material can. Only direct experience of one’s soul nature provides this. The world perpetuates dramas to enforce spiritual truths. One of these is that faith in Spirit is a divine law. A smooth life isn’t necessarily a victorious life. No matter if sickness or death dance about you, do not be discouraged. Earthly life is an ephemeral existence; lasting reality is spiritual, not material.
Be helpful and learn to see the Divine in all, regardless of race or creed; love everyone as your own. Selfishness cramps the soul in a limiting prison of material desire. Concentrate on the human family without restrictions. Do your part to improve the world, but don’t be bound by its troubles or you’ll be ensnared by them. That’s the secret of victory over delusion.
And, pray. Thought is a force. When it is focused on the Divine and directed with beneficial intent for the healing of individuals, societies or the planet, a tremendous power is released. Although subtle in nature, the vibrations of spirituality and healing generated by prayer engender positive changes in the subtle realms that ultimately manifest in positive material outcomes.
Whether confronted by a pandemic or not, the right path in life is always to include others in your welfare. By serving all you serve your Self and, in this fashion, emerge triumphant over trials.