Let’s face it: Who’s NOT talking about COVID-19 these days? Everywhere I turn, that’s the topic du jour. With all the division, I can’t help but feel like I’m supposed to “pick a side” among the many conflicting viewpoints, but it’s getting increasingly difficult to know what to believe. It doesn’t take much self-reflection to acknowledge that we each have a tendency to hold certain people and certain professions as more trustworthy and therefore a source of truth. But the challenge in this digital age is that I can conveniently find whatever evidence I need to reinforce my personal biases and make me “right,” and then I simply need to place the opposition in the “wrong” category and I’m good to go! Easy peasy.
Actually, not so easy!
Perhaps like you, I have loved ones who think COVID-19 is a global threat, ones who think it’s serious but manageable, and ones who think the whole thing is a hoax or a conspiracy. I know people who are terrified to leave home and who sanitize their groceries after a 45-minute decontamination process, and others who refuse to wear masks in public spaces and think herd immunity is what’s necessary. I know people who are experiencing unprecedented loneliness, anxiety, and depression, and yet countless others who are loving the extra “free time” and are living their best lives. I have loved ones who eagerly await the apparent collapse of material capitalism in favor of a resource-based economy and loved ones who are desperate for a return to “normalcy” because their businesses, passions, and livelihoods are disintegrating before their very eyes. The one thing we can ALL agree on right now is: This sucks, and we are not in control.
What frame are you looking through?
I’ve been sharing with some of my close friends that my mantra for this moment in time is: “This will be interesting!” Several people have responded to that with bewilderment, and I get it. “Interesting” is not how some people would describe it. But from where I’m looking, we each have the opportunity to frame our life experiences in whatever way we want, and for me, the frame I’m building is one of curiosity and flexibility. Not because it’s easy or because I’m not totally overwhelmed by anxiety and a precarious financial situation, but because I’m growing tired of the same old stories, unhelpful coping strategies, and Us vs. Them mentality. I can spend countless hours pondering how everything is going to hash out and why and who to blame, or I can breathe, notice, and be curious.
This whole situation has been a loud internal reminder of a few things for me:
- Each person is viewing their reality through the lens of their personal history, and so what is a blessing to one is a tragedy or curse to another
- The final litmus test for my view of truth must be the unbiased, careful observation and discernment of all the available information along with a willingness to welcome doubt and be surprised
- I will not have the capacity for unbiased, careful observation and discernment of what is if I have not cultivated the necessary attention and nonjudgmental awareness of the present moment, aka Mindfulness
Finding My Way Through
It has taken me years of yoga and mindfulness practice (and “beginning again” when my practice inevitably falls off) to even begin to change my perspective of life and how I show up in it. But, I have had enough of a taste of mindfulness to appreciate the feeling of ease and peace of mind that comes from an open heart and a curious mind. When I am in that mind space in which I can just be in the moment without labeling it, clinging to it, or pushing it away, I somehow end up taking the next right step and things seem to just flow together in a beautiful way. It feels like an unfolding process or the turning of a page in a story instead of an overwhelming barrage of random events.
When I am tranquil but alert, instead of avoiding or disengaging from life, I can always hear what resonates as true for me, and I do not need to rely on some external source to tell me what to believe. It’s something I feel in my bones. And when I move from that space, the action I take is always in harmony with Life. This access point to deep wisdom and resonance of truth is available to us all, if only we can get quiet enough to hear it.
I can’t help but wonder what type of future we could collectively co-create if we each rediscovered our capacity for tranquil alertness—if instead of being weighed down by regret, anger, or fear, we were each tapped into our innate creative, collaborative, courageous selves. I wonder if we’ll ever be willing to let go of “normal,” of expectation, of control, and instead adopt a creative, flexible approach to this ever-changing dance of life. I’m up for it—are you?