This post will be different from the ones you're used to seeing about the current outbreak.
You won't find strategies on how to stay virus-free. There will be no mentions of how to keep others safe. And you won't find any guides about how to work from home.
Instead, like every single post in this blog, your attention will be directed within yourself.
If you're having a hard time coping with your own inner experience of fear, anger, guilt, confusion, or hopelessness, perhaps the following words may bring you peace.
First, understand what's happening inside of you
When things happen in the world, they stimulate responses within ourselves. What turns one person on can completely turn another person off.
This is something we take for granted, so much so that that no one even talks about why we get scared, or why we're not able to handle ourselves during these trying times.
You see, the outside world is never the problem, and it's not what we actually care about. Ultimately, all we really care about is our inner experience.
The real problem is not any virus taking over the world, but rather the thunderstorm happening in our minds.
There are millions of viruses around the world at all times. Very few are ever a problem for us. So why this one, now? Why do we suddenly care so much that we literally shut down a large portion of our daily activity?
We care because our individual blueprint of how the world should be - that is, how all of the people, places, and things around us must unfold in order for us to be happy - is at risk of being broken. Our minds freak out about this, and our emotions follow suit.
If we didn't care that people were dying (believe it or not, some people don't), then this wouldn't be viewed as a problem.
But since part of our blueprint is that our loved ones, including ourselves, need to be alive and healthy in order for us to be okay, we experience inner turmoil. Since part of our blueprint is that strangers need to act in accordance to our own individual moral code, we freak out when they don't.
In short, we're not okay with the virus because we're not okay with reality.
Remember the bigger picture
Knowing that what we truly care about is how the outside world affects our inner world, we can look at the virus for what it is.
What's happening with COVID-19 is simply nature being nature. If you have a problem with a virus doing what it's programmed to do, then you ought to have a problem with your own organs doing what they're supposed to do, or with the rings of Jupiter, or the temperature of the Sun.
In other words, understand that when you complain about a virus, you're complaining about the very atoms that made you.
We must start by accepting all that is. There is currently a virus, made up of the same atoms you and I are made up of - and it's doing all that it knows. Meanwhile, we are here, made up of the same atoms as this virus, doing what we know.
The virus tries to live, expand, and protect itself. We try to live, expand, and protect ourselves. The animals who transmitted the virus to humans were trying to live, expand, and protect themselves.
We all come from the same source, all equal parts of life continuing to unfold, just like the first seven days of creation. Today is no different. We're just a little bit farther along in the timeline. But this is still creation, and there's nothing inherently wrong with what's happening.
We must realize that what's happening is only a problem because it's a problem in our minds.
Once we understand this position, we can begin to witness, with clear eyes, our own inner experience of fear, anxiety, anger, rage, confusion, and helplessness. Once we look at these things unburdened by additional layers of anguish, we can start to work with them.
Your mind will go crazy, but you don't have to
When your mind spews out all kinds of disturbing thoughts and fears, you are not the one doing that. Your mind is doing it, and you're listening. The reason it's so believable is because you've been listening so closely you're entire life that you think the voice is you.
If the voice quiets down, you're still there to notice that things are quiet, aren't you? If your feelings of anxiety subside and you experience peace, you're still there to witness the peace, no?
You see, our automatic identification with the voice in our head and the feelings in our hearts has led us to think we are that voice, and we are our feelings. But we should know by now that our inner experience is constantly changing, contradicting itself, to the point where it doesn't seem to know what it wants.
The only thing that never changes is the part of us that witnesses all the changes.
Take any thought or emotion away, and you're still there. But take away the part of you that notices, and you cease to exist.
Finding stillness in the storm of the mind
There's no question that the current events are triggering storms in the minds of billions of people. We must do our best to be calm as the storm passes by.
No one ever benefited by freaking out when a tornado comes through. Freaking out means letting the neurotic parts of our minds guide our actions. This leads to selfish behavior, tantrums, and unproductive action. This is never, ever, the right thing to do when handling a situation such as a pandemic.
Of course we take appropriate measures to stay safe. Of course we have an obligation to serve and protect our bodies. No one ever said we shouldn't do these things. However, acting out based on the storm in our minds is never the answer. We must act based on reality, on science, on facts, and above all else, on love.
The truth is, yelling at other people to stop hoarding toilet paper is just another form of polluting the environment.
Remember, your mind will do what it's used to doing. It will run on autopilot and create fear-producing thoughts for you. That's okay. The fact that it's constantly doing this without your assistance should prove to you that you're not the one doing it.
If you catch your mind getting angry at others, that's fine. Let it do what it's done for years. You are now aware of its patterns, so you don't have to give in. Let your mind yell, while you simply watch.
Learn to let it be. The thoughts will come up, and then they will go, just like clouds in a storm. There's no need to listen.
Ask yourself, What's real right now, in this moment?
As a technique to handle your inner storm, take a look around you. Find something real, that you know to be true via your own direct experience. Focus on that.
Perhaps you have a loved one nearby. Maybe a dog or a cat. It could even be the sunlight coming through your shades, or the warmth of your bed. Anything that you can experience without having to think.
Spend a few extra minutes connecting with this person or object like it's the only thing in the room. Everything else you see on the news - regardless of whether or not it's true - is not happening in your immediate experience, so shift your attention away from that for the time being.
What you'll uncover is a stillness within. A stillness that was there long before any pandemic, which will remain long after for many years to come. Find this stillness, get to know it, and learn to stay there.
From this place of stillness, your actions will be guided by love, not fear.
If you do this, and you continue to rest in that place of stillness, both you and the entire world will be a better place for it.
Live with substance!
A final note from the author:
This is a unique opportunity for all of humanity to come together as one. The world needs your gentleness, your compassion, your purity of being. Please, spread this message with as many people as you can during these difficult times.
If you enjoyed this post, perhaps you'll find insights in my latest article titled: "Finding Freedom In The Midst Of Fear."