March 28, 2020
I am sitting in my house, which I have now been hibernating in for over 14 days, wondering when it will be safe for us all to step back into our lives as we had known in such a routine and familiar way. Just a few weeks ago I believed that it would only be people in my age group and older who had prior pulmonary or cardiac issues who would be targeted by this virus to be the most vulnerable. Tonight I saw on one of the many news events that an infant died from covid-19 and I could feel my tears of compassion, sadness, and fear for this child and all the children and adults who potentially could become ill, suffer and leave this earthly body we are so blessed and privileged to experience while living this life on Earth. We are all vulnerable, we are all human beings, we are one population living on one planet and this form of the coronavirus doesn’t differentiate between countries, cultures, boundaries, religions or spiritual beliefs, economic status, education, gender identification and orientation, the color of one’s skin or eyes, or any other variance that someone might judge as ‘different’… we are all potential victims just waiting…or maybe not.
I have said to many people, including myself, over the decades of being a psychotherapist that ‘victims choose to be victims’. If I can choose to not be a victim to anyone then is it possible to choose to not be a victim to a virus or to the current consequence of being required to live quarantined in isolation. Choosing to not be a victim to the covid-19 virus can only occur when each of us chooses love, respect and truth for ourselves and each other. We can experience these choices in each moment when we allow fear to pass mindfully and not attach to it causing our brain to activate the primitive and midbrain (the limbic system) to override our ‘newer’ and more conscious prefrontal cortex. When we attach to fear we all will immediately go into the primitive survival mode which activates our stress hormones, in case we have to run away from a tiger attacking us, which then increases all those stress hormones which only increases inflammation and decreases our immune system… making us more susceptible to any virus or illness… and panic, anxiety, depression, agitation, projection of blame… none of which will help us to avoid feeling as a victim would feel… frightened, helpless or trapped.
What is the opposite of fear? It is love and millions of possible variations of love. To transition from fear to ‘love’ one only has to use their breath and slow down into deeper breathing, calming the mind and heart, practicing mindfulness… observing the feelings of fear and its derivatives without judging self or other and then release it and inquire within, into your wiser mind what the truth is in this moment… in each moment. Are my basic needs being met? Am I safe physically at this moment? Do I have shelter and food and yes, even toilet paper? If I am a first responder or health practitioner can I practice safe measures and assure myself of rest and sanitary precautions that we all must remember in protecting ourselves and everyone we are within close physical proximity to. If I go out at all I wear gloves or wash my hands not just for me but for everyone that would touch what I touch. I practice love of self and others because we are all vulnerable in this crisis and in any other moment in time. `We can allow ourselves to ‘remember’ we are not alone for we live in an advanced technical world and we can reach out to others we may not even know in so many ways… with music by opening our doors and windows and playing an instrument or singing as the beautiful people of Italy showed us all; laughter even at ourselves; binge watching favorite shows and sharing with someone who is also watching the same shows; using google hangout and having a virtual party; acting on projects that there never seemed to be enough time to complete or even start; having conversations with people you love and being more vulnerable and authentic; playing games or imaginative play with your children or grandchildren. I’m playing scrabble on an app with my 5 year old grandson daily, and my 3 year old grandson randomly facetimes me for even just a minute and my heart smiles; taking time to exercise, meditate and be creative with the items of food I have in my kitchen and most of all feeling gratitude for all the blessings in my life that I usually may be too busy to even notice or remember.
I ask myself: “If I wasn’t afraid what would I do; choose; create; and experience right now”. I invite you to also inquire within yourself and be present, mindful, open to love for self and others, and remember we are not ever alone if we remember we are all here together, one population, one earth, one heart. We are all connected and together we will move through this crisis, this time, this moment when we can see within ourselves and in each other’s eyes the same humanness… the same humanity… we will go on as one human race and perhaps be able to grow and learn even more about the resiliency that lives within each of us and the compassion we feel for ourselves and each other.
Take a moment each day to give to yourself love, compassion and kindness and then send a prayer of love and compassion to all and we will begin to know and ‘feel’ we are not alone.
Love, Compassion, and Hope to all,