The Jewel in the Crown (Coronavirus)
‘Covid-19’ is one of several strains in the coronavirus family, so called because of the way their structure resembles a crown when looking under a microscope; call me mad, but it strikes me as beautiful that the virus currently causing global pandemic is named after a crown. Info from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coronavirus
I see a jewel in this crown! The jewel is LOVE.
I know there are many challenges to rise to in current conditions, especially if you or your loved ones are ill, or you are physically cut off from loved ones, but I wanted to share what I see as the potential gifts of this disease and the invitation for us to evolve out of our individualistic, fear-based ways into more open hearted, interconnected, caring and sharing ways, which I believe is the only way we as a species have a chance to survive through all the environmental challenges we are also facing.
On so many levels this virus is offering opportunities for radical and lasting change. We are being forced to stop our usual constant doing and productivity, which has led to our current state of environmental crisis and planetary pollution; we are being challenged to think of others when we shop, to not stockpile stuff out of fear of not enough, to trust that we can all have what we need, in order for there to be enough for everyone. We are being asked to choose love over fear.
I see it almost like a ‘reboot’ of our systems both personal and societal. We could choose to change our systems for the good. For example, I recently signed a petition in support of the temporary implementation of a universal basic income and I wondered, why not consider this permanently because there is so much economic inequality that could be addressed by this idea? I am hearing stories every day about people and communities getting together in support of one another, and feel there is a momentum and desire for this kind of radical cultural change. I also love that we are being asked to stay home if we have any symptoms of cold or flu; wouldn’t it be wonderful if the cultural norm changed from being expected to work because its ‘just a cold’ to being expected to take care of ourselves, and others by reducing infection, when we are sick?
There is opportunity while we are collectively stopped in our usual tracks, for us to ask ‘what would be good to change permanently?, ‘what would we like to not go back to ‘normal’ when this is over?
We are being asked to stay indoors, to not socialise as we normally do and this is also an opportunity to go inside ourselves and see what is there when we stop our constant doing. We can spend more quality time with our children and each other. In the Northern hemisphere Spring has just arrived and we can tend our gardens, if we have one, and we can enjoy noticing nature bursting back to life all around us. Nature continues in its rhythm. Our lives are part of that same rhythm and this illness is challenging us to do things differently, to evolve and to change. We need to change radically in order to deal with climate crisis. The timing of this is not coincidence. We are being asked by the intelligence of life through this virus to see once and for all that we are all connected because this virus knows no boundaries and does not prejudice.
How to choose love over fear
It is important that we know what our governments are advising us to do and to follow this advice because it is meant to keep us all as safe as possible from the spread of Covid-19. However, as mentioned in an earlier post, our news media are predominantly negative and feed our habitual tendency towards fear, so I suggest checking in with news just once a day and only long enough to update yourself on current guidance on taking care of yourself, your loved ones and stopping the spread of the virus. Once you’ve checked in with the news, bring your focus back to the here and now; focus on breathing for a moment and consciously let go of whatever might have been triggered.
Fear is a primal response to real and present threat. When we are in an immediately threatening situation our body responds and we take self protective action driven by our physiology; this is where our natural fight, flight, freeze response comes in. While it may seem natural for us to fear this disease because we know we might catch it and it might kill us or someone we love, or infinite other related worries, it is not the same as having to take immediate survival action because a lion is hunting you right this minute; feeling afraid, worried or anxious, whether we are ill or well, will only make you and those around you feel worse and actually lowers your immune function. There is plenty of evidence to support this.
Notice when you start to feel more anxious and ask yourself what has triggered this? Is there a real threat right now that I need to act on? If not, then choose to turn your mind away from the fear. You could try focussing on your breath for a moment; experiment with some kind of meditation or you could try focussing on gratitude or something else that uplifts your mood. Feeling gratitude has been shown to increase well being.
Spend time outside in fresh air and consciously connect with the natural world around you in your garden or a park. As long as you are healthy, feeling well and following the latest social distancing guidance, this should be relatively safe and will help you feel connected to the larger energy of life which is always in motion and from which you are inseparable. If you cannot go out then open your window and breathe in some fresh air, watch clouds pass, notice the trees blossoming and coming back into leaf.
You could find ways to help within your local community because that could take your mind of your worries and help you feel connected with others. If you don’t know where to start try Freegle, who have set up a system to connect those who can offer help with those who need help.
Remember this pandemic situation, like everything, is temporary and will pass. And maybe when it does pass you will know a little more about yourself, be friendlier with your neighbours, have overcome some of your anxiety, have read some good books or have discovered how to connect with others in new and creative ways.
We have an opportunity every single day while we are forced to quit our habitual way of doing things, to reconvene with our deepest selves, to connect with our hearts and the hearts of others and choose love over fear, while doing all we can to minimise the spread of the virus and take care of each other. This story is still unfolding and we really can influence the outcome; fear will increase feelings of panic and create an environment in which the virus can thrive; love and acceptance will help us to connect with and care for one another while boosting our immunity and uplifting our spirit. I choose love, no matter how strong the pull of collective fear gets. I hope you will join me.
There are plenty of self empowering resources and uplifting stories available online. Here are just a few that I particularly like.
John Kabat-Zinn guided mindfulness session for anxious times
Global Citizen on positive coronavirus news
The Alternative UK coronavirus resources