COVID-19: Cultivating wellbeing and inner resilience
Updated: Apr 29, 2020
As a coach, I work with my clients to create practices and conditions to cultivate clear minds and expansive hearts in order to engage their lives as fully and whole-heartedly as whole-humanly possible. For most of us, in these challenging times, this can feel like a distant possibility, a dim dream through the fog of overwhelm and anxiety that blankets many of us. We are not only absorbed in our individual challenges, but also feel overwhelmed by the fractures in our communities, horrific injustice, increasing political tensions, global challenges, conflicts and climate shifts that are bombarding our hearts and mind every day. And, as COVID-19 interrupts our previous ways of being and doing, we have a chance cultivate our inner resilience and hearts even more immediately as we find ourselves launched into a different ever-changing world.
To show up to the uncertainty in our lives, to face the intensity of the tragedies we encounter, we must learn to become wholehearted in relationship to the conditions of life as they are, to become fully present to this life, to this very moment!, precious and fleeting and beautiful and changeable as it all can be.
I’d suggest a rather counterintuitive move here. First, we have to meet and know our suffering, intimately. Not the best marketing pitch in a world that promises quick fixes, self improvement apps and polished Life Hacks.
We must get close to that which hurts. We regret the past, we become absorbed by fantasies of the future. We imagine, if only conditions could be just so (both inside me and outside me) things would be better. We grip, grasp, and cling. There are times we fiercely resist what is being asked of us, perhaps even on the most mundane and ordinary level: yet another zoom call, the dishes to wash, the stack of bills to pay, the lifeless project at work with a nearing deadline.
We can move from one unsatisfactory experience to the next, often disappointed, dissatisfied and yet, with an insatiable desire to contact our lives as bright and life giving and inspired.
Some of us feel underwater in our anxious, socially isolated reality, desiring intimacy and physical contact, increasingly disembodied, feeling blasted with sensational news. COVID-19 brings closer the worry and fear of dying, of facing our mortality before our time. We may be experiencing personal losses we could have never imagined.
What is the practice for inner well being and resilience in the face of this all?
Without being cliche. Or trite. Or soporific.
An end to suffering does not mean we do not feel pain. An end to our own suffering does not mean we turn into equanimous, numb, dissociated, complacent and detached meditators, simply bypassing the ugly to bask in the feel good, radically open without discernment. Nor does it mean we indulge the tendency to spiral into catastrophic thinking, nor into a state of denial.
No. In order to relieve some of our suffering, requires our courage and a radical steadiness to feel, fully, heart shattering truths about the world. It will require our grief, our wails, our rage, our demands for justice to be expressed. An end to suffering requires our sober and sovern acceptance that, in coming into direct relationship to what is happening in this moment, we are granted an arrival in which we are in relationship to more life -- simply because we are not denying, resisting, pushing away, manipulating, wishing for things to be different than they are.
And, as we clarify what matters most to us, what desires are most worthy of our lives, we might soften our raging, passionate declarations for a moment. We might pause to feel directly, immediately. This pause has the potential to increase your connection to yourself, to the world. This pause is where silence becomes the most intimate. As you contact gravity, surely and steadily supporting you in place, perhaps you are also buoyed as you notice the aspirational and upright quality of your spine and the dignity simply inherent in being here, in this moment. Perhaps this is the most fundamental ground of being: curious, compassionate and spacious, even in the face of a increasingly frightening, ever-changing world.