The Coronavirus was thought to start at a “wet market” in Wuhan, China. Wet markets are popular in Asia, where vendors sell live animals by the bulk to consumers to who then kill the animals on their own and sell to the public. It is thought that the virus came from a bat, who may have bitten one of the live chickens, who then gave it to a human. And then the world changed forever.
I see this crisis bringing the best and the worst out of us. Some people who were already afraid are becoming more afraid. They’re hoarding food and goods. They’re closing themselves in, tighter and tighter. Some people are feeling more connected to others, as we really are dependent on each other to keep our families safe. Suddenly, it’s not you and yours against the world. The funny thing is, it never was. We are always in it together.
So how to practice in these times? How to deal with the fear and uncertainty? It starts on the cushion. It starts in the seat you currently take. We have to train our heart to stay open, and our minds to stay clear and then act from that place.
Why not start now? Allow your eyes to close. Be comfortable. Relax the brow, and the facial muscles. Loosen the jaw. Soften your shoulders, and your belly. Place your hand on your belly and watch it rise and fall with your breath. And bring to mind the image of someone you know, or may have heard of, who is directly or indirectly affected by the current crisis. See their fear, as they monitor the news and hear about the next person who died. See their loved ones, whose lives have stopped so that they can be there entirely for this person. And see their fear too, as they also watch the news, and gaze back at their loved one. See the natural kindness, generosity, and love, that bubbles up to the surface in crises. And then zoom out, really wide, and imagine all the people, with the number growing by the hour, who are in the same position. Get in touch with the feelings that arise. Don’t run from it. That only creates more confusion. Instead, realize that you can hold it with compassion and kindness. And then softly say to yourself, as you imagine all the people affected:
May you be truly happy and deeply peaceful
May you find ease in the midst of your suffering
May you be safe and protected.
May you be free from harm.
And as you repeat these phrases, keep the images in mind. Shower as many people as you can with your own kindness, love, and clarity. It is only from this place, that we will begin to heal. And only once we’ve healed, can we change. And when we change, we change the world. Be part of the solution. Do your part. It starts in the seat you are in right now.
If OMI can do anything for you, please contact us. We are here to help, not only in times like these, but always.
Dr. Zack Bein