Hope in a Time of Pandemic

Hope in a Time of Pandemic

Lifting Our Spirits through these Troubled Times

These are strange and disorienting times we’re living through. The magnitude of the global disruption caused by the coronavirus is immense and still unfolding. But there are also tremendous opportunities in this moment, and I’d love to highlight those that feel most potent to me right now.

I’ll start by acknowledging that there is real angst, fear, loss, instability, and grief for many. And while some of us are relatively insulated from immediate impacts such as loss of income, a sick loved one, or a struggling business, others are in the throes of a far more immediate crisis. Either way, we are all navigating an unfamiliar level of intensity in the emotional landscape, and it’s incredibly important that we make space to feel what we’re feeling.

On the other hand, if we’re overwhelmed by the darkness, our capacity to be helpful will be severely limited. So my intention here is not in any way to diminish the suffering that’s out there, but instead to offer a different perspective that might help us rise above the collective anguish and into hope, and love.

Because in truth, it is equally important that we feed our spirits, uplift our hearts, and set our creativity ablaze. This is how we will make our way through this. Together.

The Quiet Gift of “Social Distancing”

One of the things I have been most struck by over the past couple of weeks is the subtle beauty—the balancing effect—inherent in our collective attempts to slow the spread of this pandemic. Across the globe, human beings are being asked to slow down and to stay home as much as possible.

By extension, we’re also being invited to pause, reflect, and reassess what actually matters most to each of us. There’s a potent power in this fallow time. It feels gestational—like there’s a rightness to the complete suspension of “business as usual.”

This moment has the potential to reorient our entire species.

As my family made its way clumsily toward the new normal, I was surprised to notice that, after a few days, my resting heart rate had dropped by several beats per minute, my sleep had improved, and I had experienced a surge in creative energy. At a time when I would have expected increased stress, my nervous system was gently reminding me that my daily life (before the world shut down) had fallen completely out of sync with my innate rhythms, and that perhaps I could come home to them now.

As an introvert with a pitta-kapha constitution, my natural pace is considerably slower than that of the world PCV (pre-coronavirus), and much more aligned with the pace of this brave new world we find ourselves in. That seems incredibly obvious to me now, but I hadn’t even registered that I was sprinting through life until it all stopped.

I quickly began to relish the mornings that no longer felt frenzied or rushed. I embraced the extra time with my family. And at some point, I noticed that I was not particularly looking forward to the moment when things would “return to normal.” Quite the opposite; I found myself seriously contemplating how we could simplify to preserve those things that feel good about this new way of being.

I know I’m not alone in this quiet recalibration. It looks different for each of us. But there is a very real opportunity to see things more clearly right now—even if by shedding light on what’s NOT working. I believe that this is one of the great gifts of this pandemic so far.

We Are All Connected

My initial response to the coronavirus was to consume every credible resource I could get my hands on—trying to understand what we were dealing with and why the public health recommendations were what they were. But as that impulse softened, I began to feel deeply tapped into (and fed by) a broader, shared sense of purpose with humans everywhere—as nations around the world asked individuals to think beyond themselves and to make very real sacrifices for the good of the whole.

This stirred something in me that I didn’t expect. Was it hope, or joy? Maybe it was a sense of bold anticipation and excitement around what might be possible in the wake of this massive upheaval. But was I allowed to feel excitement or hope? I wrestled with the level of privilege that even afforded me that opportunity, eventually finding the courage to claim my truth.

If we’ve learned anything this past few weeks, it’s how exquisitely interconnected we all are.

We are truly in this together—not as friends, or small circles of like-minded individuals, not as towns, or states, or nations, but as human beings. We have a responsibility to one another. That is true in the physical realm of viral spread and social distancing, yes, but it is also true in the more subtle, energetic realms of consciousness, compassion, generosity, and the unified field that connects us all.

So how do we go about cultivating the very best within us? How do we buoy our spirits in a time of crisis? How do we resource ourselves when our networks of social support have been dramatically altered and virtualized?

 

Banyan friend Jamie with hands at heart on a sunny day in the park

The Heart: Gateway to Our Full Potential

The heart center is one of our most powerful assets at a time like this. Our thinking minds can make a mess of all the possible worst-case scenarios, and can send us spiraling into the most fear-ridden, survival-oriented aspects of our consciousness. But the heart center offers a refuge from all of that—if we choose to drop in and connect with it.

And remember, according to Ayurveda, the heart center is a potent energetic hub where countless physiological and energetic channels come together and influence one another (to learn more, consider reading Vibrant Heart).

In a very real sense, our state of mind, our consciousness, our health—even our immune capacity—is directly tied to the heart center. And the more of us who choose to reside in that space, the more undoubtedly we will impact others.

Never has there been a more important time to meditate, to center, to quiet ourselves, and to connect inward.

This is where we travel beyond the mental chatter, beyond the emotional volatility that has felt so overwhelming for so many of us lately. This is where we encounter a more settled, peaceful, inner essence. This is where we access an internal reservoir of love. This is where we go to take refuge in the present moment (where most of the time, we are just fine—regardless of the uncertainties ahead). This is where hope and possibilities lie. This is where we access the ingenuity of the human spirit—the intuition, creativity, and inspiration that will carry us through this disruption and into all that’s possible on the other side of it.

A Practical Guide to Staying Centered

If you’re looking for more concrete guidance on how best to resource and support your overall well-being right now, I think you will find these simple practices deeply supportive.

  • Routine. Maintaining as much routine as possible will calm the nervous system. This is especially important in families with children unexpectedly home from school.
  • Pranayama. Nadi Shodhana (Alternate Nostril Breathing) will help you settle your mind, balance the masculine and feminine energies within, and access more clarity and calm.
  • Meditation. Any form of meditation that resonates with you is wonderful. If you don’t have a practice, I highly recommend Heart-Based Meditation.
  • Abhyanga. Ayurvedic Self-Massage—lovingly anointing the entire body with oil—soothes, nourishes, and fosters harmony throughout the entire being.
  • Herbal Support. Chyavanprash is a powerful rejuvenative that bolsters immune capacity (and kids love it). Immune Health NOW was created in March of this year and formulated specifically to support respiratory health during this season.

In addition, I would recommend connecting with your heart center and following your inspiration as often as possible. Give your intuitive, creative capacities space to lead. Explore and prioritize ways to feed and uplift your heart. Tending to your own self-care and state of being may be more important now than ever.

A Broader Vision

We have all witnessed incredible displays of human ingenuity, compassion, generosity, and courage since all of this began. One of my dear friends described it as a massive “mobilization of light,” which I thought was a beautiful way to capture one of the upsides of the coronavirus outbreak.

I hope that, in this moment, we are beginning to see more clearly which of our personal priorities and broader cultural systems are set up to best support our core values—and which are not. And I hope that on a global scale, we will be inspired to change that which is no longer working. This level of transformation will not happen overnight, but the potential energy of this moment feels truly massive.

The thing is, it’s only possible if we hold an expansive vision together. Will you help me dream into something that’s bigger than getting back to normal? Will you stay connected to your heart in a way that is as contagious as the coronavirus? Because I believe that dropping into who we truly are—and remembering what’s most important—really is one of the most essential contributions that each of us can make at this historic moment.

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