If you've read our book, or seen its title, "Class Is (Always) In Session", you know that we try to view every crisis or issue or problem or nagging difficulty as an opportunity. We don't always love it and, like some teachers, we wish they would grant us recess.
But here's the fact: the pandemic just underscores or exaggerates what has been going on in us. Even in "healthier" years, we sometimes prefer distractions, numbing our emotions and using acceptable narcotics such as social media, food, alcohol and other comforts. Truth be told, we’ve always vacillated between certain and uncertainty, steadfastness and anxiety, contentment and frustration, peace and overwhelm. It’s just that this pandemic has brought it all front and center- directly in our focus, so we can’t ignore or anesthetize it. That’s difficult, but it’s also an opportunity — to look directly at the things we don’t want to admit to ourselves. To become present to our emotions. To train ourselves in compassion, gratitude, wonder, connection, meaning and mindfulness. We will not pretend that all is well... it's unsettling that people are getting sick and dying (especially those who are unvaccinated by choice). We lament that people are turning to drugs and other unhealthy ways of trying to deal with this. Leo Babauta has some suggestions for how to develop a new frame of mind. Try them out:
Curiosity: can we be curious about something in this moment, from the sensations of our emotions to what another person is going through? What changes for you when you practice curiosity?
Wonder: Can we view this moment (ourselves, our surroundings, other people) with a sense of awe and appreciation? With a sense of wonder at the miracle of life? How does that change things for you?
Gratitude: Can we feel a sense of gratitude for what we have in this moment, for the other person, for our eyesight? What would it be like to lose those things? Can we see the things we have through this new lense of appreciation?
Meaning: What if everything we did had a sense of meaning — what if every act could be a way to love ourselves, or to love and serve others? How would that change each act for you?
Mindfulness: Can we simply be present in this moment? Connect with a sense of spaciousness and awareness of what is happening right now? What shifts for you when you do this?
Connection: Can we feel a sense of connection to others in each moment? To the light in ourselves? To the world around us? And realize how we’re supported by the entire world.
Empowerment: There’s a big difference between doing something because we feel we should, or because we have to … and doing something because we choose to. Can you choose into each act in your day? Or choose out of it, if you really don’t want to do it? What would life be like if you were choosing to do things from an empowered place, rather than feeling like life was happening to you?
Choose one at a time, and practice it for a few days. Life in the pandemic will give you plenty of practice opportunities, if you look for them. Embrace them and train. If we come out of this pandemic with healthier minds and stronger "muscles", all the better.