It’s a very difficult time at the moment for everyone, so much uncertainty, everything turned on it’s head and a lot of fear around. Many awful stories of panic buying, selfish behavior and of course scammers and manipulators exploiting this situation from bankers and investors pushing the pound down by buying USA dollars to doorstep scammers of vulnerable people posing as council workers there to do their shopping. Scenes in supermarkets are so heartbreaking, as people panic and act selfishly but also of course expose themselves to the virus by standing for way more than 15 minutes in long ques..hand washing will not protect them. Countries, including the UK are brining in acts to detain without parliamentary votes and ones which can change our sense of freedom and liberty for ever. I say sense because I wonder how much our freedom has been to a certain extent illusionary anyway and certainly personal freedom and well being has often consequences for others. There is so much selfish behavior right now but the converse is creativity, support groups, support, humor and social responsibility.
Of course there are many things to be worried about but one of them that is of deep concern to me is mental health, anxiety, paranoia, hypochondria and OCD. Loneliness and isolation and the need to wash and clean at the moment maybe a necessary reality but it has consequences for people who may already suffer from this conditions and might bring others who were living in their bubble of happiness and social contact into a painful short sharp shock.
Underlying this is a loss of control for all of us, and again I dare to suggest that the control we thought we had was also if not an illusion, not always the best way to live and certainly control has consequences for those around us. So grounding and breathing deeply when the virus is threatening to take our ability to breath at all becomes more important.
Underlying all of this uncertainty is fear of illness and death and fear stops our breathing as well as the virus. Fear of of being incredibly uncomfortable and suffering, whether this is directly from the illness or from the impact and ramifications of social isolation, loss of jobs and a whole way of live changing from one minute to the next. There is now a fear of the future so what would happen if we took time to just accept the fear, sit with it, say hello to it and deepen our experience of fear. Get to know it by being aware of your breath, get to know what we were trying to control anyway. Don’t try to change or control your breath or scare yourself ridged with the holding breath test for ten seconds that is going round on social media. For now don’t do any special lung cleansing or yogi breath, just be with your breath, don’t judge it, just notice it and give it gratitude and respect.
Perhaps in doing this, which of course is really about being in this moment however strange, weird, painful and uncomfortable we will be able to deepen our understanding of how people all over the world are suffering in the moment, just sometimes we have been so focused on controlling out own life’s and futures that we did not have time to sit with fear, a fear that is a reality for all human beings and is in the breath.
I think because of the way mindfulness had been capitalized on that many people see it as a selfish act or one that sends us into bliss states so that we ignore politics and social responsibility. I think that is a great shame, being in the moment with everything that is going on is a painful and responsible act, one that daily I want to run away from, cover up, especially now because it is not easy. But right now being in the moment is the only way we will survive this and have the strength to help others, stay brave, keep being kind. Living in fear of the future is the state of mind all those who are cruelly and selfishly stockpiling.