Updated: Apr 17
These past few weeks have been confusing. For many, it’s a major struggle to continue supporting themselves and their families, and for others a time of suffering and sickness. Our collective being is not in the highest of spirits… while a large chunk of the world waits in anxious isolation as an attempt to slow the spread of the virus, there is little we can do to control the situation. Naturally, we react in one of a few, all too human, ways…
Some are making an attempt to force themselves to maintain their usual habits, health, and state of well-being. This may cause frustration when changing circumstances hault them from performing their normal routines.
Some are using time off work and usual responsibilities to indulge in Netflix, video games, snack food, and porn. This may cause a sense of longing for deeper purpose in their daily activities… as we know, superficial pleasures only lead to short term satisfaction.
Some are panicking in fear of what is to come, acting selfishly or out of a deep-rooted drive for self-preservation, buying all the hand sanitizer, toilet paper, and frozen food available.
Some are confused and simply stuck, unsure of what to do, or what should be done.
Others are ill-informed and go about their lives as if nothing has changed and their actions have no impact at all on the situation at all.
There is a delicate balance between allowing for the natural unfolding of current events and implementing an intelligent response to influence events as they unfold… we must recognize that we do not hold all the cards… that the virus is here and it will continue to spread… but our collective behaviour can and will determine the severity of the spread and the number of lives the virus takes.
Regardless of whether the virus is present, who we are, where we live, or what our status, suffering is part of life. Our attempts to control external circumstances is really an attempt to lessen our experience of suffering. Though deep down, we know we can’t get rid of it entirely. Some days we seek pleasure. Some days we discipline ourselves. Constantly seeking balance between hedonism (extreme pleasure-seeking) and masochism (extreme discipline). This balance is what the Buddha called, the middle way.
All times of prosperity are defined by times of struggle. One cannot exist without the other. We cannot cling to one and push the other away because then we only desire change, consistently dissatisfied with the present.
Try the following to maintain a sense of stability and ease (physically, mentally, and spiritually):
Don’t react, respond. This means not acting out of fear or emotion, but acting out of clarity. If you’re feeling anxious and need to DO something to calm down, don’t rush to the store to claim a dooms-day amount of toilet paper or yell at the kids for being restless, take e few deep breaths to find some calm, re-evaluate your situation with clarity, and then decide what (if anything) you need to do/have/be to stay balanced.
Allow yourself to feel down sometimes. Finding balance, taking the middle way, does not mean always being happy or that life is always just the way to want it. Accepting the “bad” with the “good” allows us to relax regardless of the emotional state we are in.
Don’t expect yourself to maintain normal routines, adapt them! Can’t follow your normal weight lifting routine? Make a bodyweight version. Feeling less productive outside your usual office space? Clear a room and make a new one at home. Most importantly, accept that things will not happen just as they did before all this happened… change is inevitable. Attempting to make life fit your mold will not work, we must fit the mold of life.
Write down a few things you’re grateful for today. Practicing gratefulness is proven to enhance our sense of fulfillment and satisfaction. In these crazy times, it’s easy to forget how much we still have going for us.
To accept the way the world is… to accept that some level of suffering will always be part of life… that our enduring of suffering makes us stronger… and that joyful times simply cannot exist without times of struggle… then the notion of “good” and “bad” fade away. We can look at circumstances, not as positive or negative, black and white, this or that, but two sides of the same coin. There will always be yin and yang, coexistence, cooperation, an ever-changing balance of oppositions.
Today is here. Less even… today is. The virus is… and it will run its course. We will struggle. Economies will fall. People will become ill or die. Families will not be able to support themselves and need help.
Despite our most intelligent response and best efforts, these scenarios are almost inevitable.
In the end, it will lead to collective prosperity. Economies will recover and grow stronger. Our healthcare systems will learn and be even better prepared in the future. The Earth’s ecosystems will heal as a result of lowered carbon emissions and human activity. Families may become closer through emotional bonds, the struggles they’ve endured, and the extra time they’ve spent together.
While this may bring some comfort, that does not mean we should not act. It means we should simply take a deep breath… stay calm… hug our loved ones close… and do the small and simple things we know to be right; wash our hands regularly, stay at home unless absolutely necessary to leave, avoid close contact with others as much as possible.
Most importantly… we must remember that we are still here. If you are reading this, if you are alive and breathing, there is plenty to be grateful for.
This virus is impermanent.
Times of struggle are impermanent.
Times of prosperity will return… though they too will not last forever.
To watch this eb and flow of life…
Without judgment… without attachment…
Is to free yourself from the stress and anxiety of all times.
Thanks for reading. Wishing you and your families well,