“It all happened so fast.”

Feels like the blink of an eye, doesn’t it? Just yesterday, your biggest challenge was deciding what to eat for dinner. Today, it’s deciding whether to take your money out of the stock market—hoping that you can find groceries when you finally muster the energy to battle the crowds—and hoping that you can get another job if you’re forced to forfeit the one you currently have.

Most people aren’t constantly anticipating a global catastrophe, and that’s usually a good thing. From a psychological standpoint, it’s typically considered healthiest to apply one’s mental energies to the here and now, with only a “general,” all-purpose sort of preparedness plan in place for when things go “wrong.” So, what happened here? We were all approaching our lives “normally” when the coronavirus panic began to kick up in the periphery of our collective vision. Most of us have a community comprised of immediate friends and family we can rely on, and that hasn’t changed. Still more relevant, the great majority of us have lived through collective moments of tragedy and panic before—so why does this one feel different?

What about this particular event is causing us to feel suffocated, isolated, hopeless, and lost? And why is there a particularly undeniable feeling of grief in the air? Our minds reassure us that nothing tangible (in our immediate experience and vicinity) has been lost, and yet our hearts are in agony; fluttering with anxiety, weighed down with despondency.


With limited resources and an outside world that appears to be rapidly disappearing, we are left in a sort of stalemate—with ourselves.

Ways that we grieve everyday, 

often without even realizing it:

 

  • When something we want to purchase is out of stock
  • When a plan we were looking forward to is rescheduled or cancelled
  • When we are delayed or late to meeting a deadline or event time
  • When the dynamic of a relationship ends or changes
  • When someone we love drastically changes their physical appearance
  • When someone we sought to impress expresses disappointment in us
  • When we do not achieve a goal in the time or way we hoped to

“I feel like I’m dying.”

One common emotion that we are all facing right now is grief. For many of us, milestone events or experiences have been cancelled. Travel plans, festival dates, and summer siestas have all been postponed. Even small things like date-nights and intimate get-togethers are suddenly no longer allowed.

The things that we’ve spent time looking forward to, fantasizing about—the future pleasures that we use to get through our present-moment mundanity—have been snatched away, and with them, our sense of identity.

We must take a moment to honor ourselves and validate something very real: what we are grieving is perfectly legitimate.

We are grieving the death of ourselves; what we have built our entire mental software upon—we are grieving our identity. Those of us who are not grieving have not yet experienced a loss of identity: the things that they hold fast to and rely on to define themselves are still fully intact, and in some cases, the changes we are experiencing as a collective may be bringing them more comfort and identification than ever. For individuals who do not find intrinsic meaning in solitude and single-person (or limited-person) activities, however, this grief process is incredibly intense and necessary.


At another time, it will be appropriate to expound upon the incredibly damaging way that our culture uses activities, promises of the future, and echoes of the past to craft individual identity. For now, let us examine what it is we’ve lost, and how we can grieve honestly and healthfully.

 

  1. We use our activities to define ourselves and create purpose in our lives. When these activities are stripped away from us, our purpose is stripped away from us. Who are we if we are not our occupation? Who are we if we are no longer able to spend time engaging in or preparing for the activities that we have allowed to define us? The answer is, we don’t know, and this realization can create a crisis of identity that leaves us feeling unsure of ourselves, our values, and our role in society.
    • We are grieving the self that gains meaning through specific social roles and activities. We are grieving a sense of meaning that gives us purpose.
  2. Without realizing it, we use our future plans to distract ourselves from what we perceive to be a very boring and meaningless present moment. If we were to apply a statistic to this habit, it might be fair to say that we spend 90% of our time fantasizing about the way we’re going to spend 10% of our time. As previously mentioned, this is a deeply ingrained cultural habit, and something to be reworked when the time is right. For now, move forward with a keen awareness of this habit, and know this: 
    • We are grieving the fact that our future is now uncertain. We are being forced to face our present self without distraction.
  3. It hurts to change our brains—truly. We have formed neural pathways in our brains by living lives of habit and routine, and for many of us, that routine is being wildly disrupted right now. As a result, our brains are being forced to create new neural pathways, which can be difficult and even akin to a physical pain sensation if we aren’t accustomed to regularly changing and challenging ourselves. Change, as frequently explored in this space, is a form of death. So, in a very real way, we are feeling emotions that are associated with death at this time.
    • We are grieving the death of our old habits and routines, as we knew them—habits and routines that provided us with relationships, interaction, and connection.

Stepping into peace

Armed with a greater understanding of why we are experiencing such a keen sense of loss at this time,  here are four ways you can step into greater peace as your daily experience continues to unfold:

four ways to step into greater peace

04

Remember Your values

In your values is where your true identity lays. What do you stand for? Do you believe that people should be loved and accepted for who they are? Do you believe that certain standards should be upheld when interacting with others? Do you feel a calling to stand up for those who do not have a voice for themselves, like children and animals? Make a mental list of your values and decide how you can implement them into your new version of life—this will create tremendous meaning in your daily experience.

03

Befriend uncertainty

We tend to forget this when life unfolds the same way every day, but the truth is, every day is rife with uncertainty. Change can happen at any moment, and whether we define that change as “good” or “bad” is totally up to us. Oftentimes, change presents itself initially as a negative, and then transforms into something that benefits us. Don’t judge the potential for change—befriend it. In uncertainty lies incredible possibility.

02

Find pleasure in the present moment

Much of our time is spent escaping from the present moment in our mind, especially when life is following its normal, uninterrupted routine. A pattern interrupt like the one we are currently experiencing is the perfect way to learn to live in the present moment. Use this time to get to know your environment in a new, and if possible, pleasurable way. Limit your electronic distractions and instead dive deeply into the sensations of the five senses. If you undertake an activity, devote your intention to it to the exclusion of all else. This practice of present-moment awareness is extremely meditative.

01

Forgive yourself

You don’t need to have all the answers. You don’t need to fix everything. You don’t need to make sure everyone is okay. Forgive yourself for putting such strict expectations on yourself, and instead, allow yourself to be completely and utterly human and imperfect right now. When it comes to our emotional well-being, we all rely on the same resource—ourselves—to express what we’re feeling and ask for help when we need it. Don’t be afraid to ask for help during this time: look to those who are thriving and who have something to give and allow them to guide you, rather than struggling to give from an empty cup.

You have all you need right now.

May you experience all aspects of life and death courageously,

aware of the infinite strength within you!

🖤

 

 

Author

Amanda Dollinger

“Your ego will die at the end of this life—it is inevitable. An awakened being knows this and allows their ego to die long before that.”

Anticipation and fear of coronavirus has turned cities across the world into little ‘ghost towns,’ driving people into their homes where they stockpile hand sanitizer and paper towels.

Coronavirus Triggers Our Fear of Death

At first glance, the threat of the Coronavirus pandemic seems to be caused by the obvious, survival-based sentiment we all share—“I don’t want to get SICK and SUFFER—or die!” Additionally, we fear for those we care about: “I don’t want people I know and love to suffer or die.

We must honor this fear. If we examine it honestly, it becomes apparent that it is ever-present and constantly nagging (pre-dating coronavirus), but is rarely audible in contrast to the layers and layers of dialogue occurring in the more superficial layers of our mind. With the help of Coronavirus, this fear is not in the background anymore—it’s loud and clear! Let’s honor this precious opportunity to engage with a part of ourselves that is typically buried deep under distractions. Thank you, coronavirus!

Aww, That’s sweet. Now How do I stop worrying?

actually, what if I don’t want to stop worrying? Everyone else is worrying…I need to stay cautious and informed. I need to know what’s going on. I need to protect myself.

First, don’t bully yourself for “giving in” to fear by worrying. Fear is our natural, biological reflex to the unknown, and you’re right—it’s impractical to expect yourself to suddenly feel differently about something, even if you’ve just been given new information. If we could just a flip a switch and change our feelings, we’d all be calm and collected right now. Rather than expect that from ourselves unrealistically, let’s simply lean away from the direction of panic and lean toward the direction of peace.

I’ll show you how.

Leaning.

It doesn’t require us to fall over, it merely asks that we shift our stance by A nearly imperceptible degree.

Our constructed personality (commonly referred to as our “ego”) is the product of our culture, our experiences, and our genetic makeup. It is constantly plagued by the worry of its own destruction; this is its natural state and not something to be concerned by. If you find that you are in a crisis of anxiety, this simply means that the ego is concerned for its preservation and well-being. This is the root of all worry, and it occurs when we’ve turned the volume of the ego up louder than the volume of our true essence. The ego is particularly resistant to Death Medicine, because any change threatens its familiar patterns. The ego wants to LIVE. To HAVE. To DOMINATE. That’s okay. It’s natural. We must simply disassociate from the ego and realize that it does not comprise the whole of who we are.

For the purpose of this exercise, consciously acknowledge that your ego is your inner child, not the entirety of your being. Even though it is a very intelligent and socially adept child, it is, nonetheless, a child—and a frightened one, at that!

To soothe it, we must remind it of the following universal truths.

05

Initial shock will always subside

One of the ways that coronavirus has paralyzed the consciousness of the public is by being newunknown, and SUDDEN. Seemingly coming from nowhere, it has appeared and brought with it a cloud of confusion, conflicting information, and fear mongering (a favorite money-making practice of the media!).

Fortunately, initial shock will always subside. What manifests as unknowndangerous, and unexpected inevitably becomes known, controlled, and anticipated. That is the nature of this universe: every extreme will become its opposite, in time.

04

No one can force you to act

It’s so deliciously easy to be swept up in the chaos of the group. When everyone acts, something inside of us LURCHES impulsively to be included in the moment; in the movement.

But no one is forcing you to act, nor can they ever. Be safe in the knowledge that, truly, you have all the time you need. Irrespective of the pressures you feel from society, your environment, your coworkers, your family, or even your country. Your autonomy is your own.

If you’re unsure of what to do (Should I travel? Should I lock myself in my home? Should I buy Costco out of its entire supply of toilet paper?) and are feeling strong pressures from the media and your community, take a moment to remember your autonomy and decide based on what feels safest to YOU. It is easy to outsource our intuition, but equally easy to reconnect to it at will.

03

You have clarity of mind right now

Whether coronavirus has touched (or is touching) you personally, or someone near you, you still have complete presence of mind now.

If you are able to read and understand these words, your cognitive ability is such that you have everything you need to be well. Future or past events are of no concern at this time, they are irrelevant until they have arrived.

You may use your current presence of mind to execute a to-do list that is absolutely relevant to the moment, if you must. If your to-do list is completed for the time being, the best thing you can do is use your mental clarity to engage in a personally meaningful occupation: something creative that you enjoy is ideal!

Revel in the knowledge that you can create and enjoy your life moment-by-moment—you do not owe the past or the future anything.

02

You are structurally and contextually supported

Fear has a fantastic way of making us feel completely and utterly alone. This is not the case, however. Aside from the entire, infinite universe residing within you at every moment, you also have many external resources that exist for the very purpose of supporting and serving YOU. To access them, all you need do is ask.

Structurally, your government, your healthcare system, your laws, your local officials, and your city are all working full-time for your benefit.

Contextually, your family, your friends, your neighbors, support groups, and members of your church or culture are simply waiting to assist in any way they can. You may even find support in inanimate resources, like books and blogs.

The key is that you ask. Even if it’s just verbalizing the words “I need help” out loud to an empty room. It is everywhere, waiting to be noticed.

01

Change creates growth

We can get caught up in the existential crisis of “why are we here?” on another day—today, let’s assume that it’s for the purpose of growth. In nature, everything grows. Uninhibited, it is likely that nature would cover the earth in lush, unchecked wilderness, until the planet itself morphed into something totally OTHER than what we know today.

The same is true for the nature within us.

Life is an uninhibited force that exists inside of us, balanced by the force of Death, which coexists quietly beside it. Every time Life throws a curveball at us, we are allowed to call forth the power of Death and adapt (grow) by making a change. This change made to our mindset, our belief system, and our lifestyle, then makes room for more life to spring up within us. It’s a powerful cycle designed to push us toward our infinite nature—a realization that is the direct product of death and change.

So, fear not. Death, in all forms, is naught but another beginning—a doorway that is opening to let more life through.

When standing apart from the ego’s grip, we can know, truly and deeply, that there is no such thing as a bad outcome. In fact, the “worse” an outcome appears to look, the greater the resulting growth will be when we survive it. Think back to any obstacle you have overcome in your life and know this to be true. And if we don’t survive it? If we slip into the wild unknown with nothing to hold on to but our beautiful, infinite, creative soul?

Well!

That might just be the beginning of the greatest adventure of all.

Peace, joy, and love unto you,

&

May you approach life and death in equal stride! 🖤