How are you doing?
Have you taken a moment to sit with your sensations, feelings, and thoughts? This can be a frightening, overwhelming crisis. Your physiology reacts to crises without conscious involvement. What our scientists have come to understand of “consciousness” is that we don’t have “free will” as we have thought of it.
We have this capability – generally called “anticipation” (what psychologists call “action projection”) that allows us to solve challenges before the problem occurs. Neither teeth or claws, nor tribal communication, but anticipation is what has brought our species to the grand (and potentially hazardous) heights we have climbed.
Our conscious mind is perfectly designed for an acute crisis, and sometimes even a sustained crisis; just not an existential one. The breadth of the current crisis can feel like the weight of the Universe is on our shoulders, heads, and hearts. That “action projection” that allows us to anticipate challenges can cause us to fixate on this seemingly ubiquitous disease. This invisible threat may provoke fear of scarcity, wariness of others, and the uncertainty of tragic outcomes. We consume news, reports, gossip, and – without our conscious awareness or permission – our physiology reacts to the bombardment of those calls. Our bodies prepare for fight or flight.
Find Moments of Solace
What we need most right now is to settle into a routine. Let us relax into a marathon rather than run into a sprint of panic. Find moments of solace; away from constant emergency messaging, so you don’t compromise your immune system.
Given long enough vigilance, your immune system can become compromised. Research shows there’s even a direct relationship between hours of sleep and the ability to fight off a viral infection: <5hrs – 45% risk vs >7hrs – 17% risk.
Focus on the Next Thing
If scientists are accurate, and we don’t have “free will” you and I, fortunately, do have “free won’t.” That is, you can set limitations on how long you allow your brain to focus on action projection. You can create a schedule, and with single-pointed focus, concentrate on that next thing, and then the next, and the next one after that. You can focus on exercise or stretching, on learning a new skill or craft, on reorganizing the house, reading that book, or playing a game with the family. One step at a time. One moment at a time.
Moments of quiescence are also critical to our mental, physical and spiritual health. You can’t stop negative thoughts. (Don’t think of a pink elephant.) You can, however, sit quietly for a moment, on the deck, in the woods, on your couch, or kneeling by your bed, and observe the thoughts and feelings and sensations erupting within you when you pay attention. Acknowledge them without judgment. Slowly nudge your awareness back to the tranquility of paying attention to your sensation of breathing. Studies show this alone reduces blood pressure, heart rate, breath rate and blood sugar levels in only one minute of practice, and bolsters your immune system.
We can feel separate from each other “Safe at home.” But we are alone in this together. Be kind to yourself, be patient, and as a result, you’ll be able to be kinder and more patient with others. OR, if the inverse works, treat yourself with the same abundant kindness and patience you treat others.
Rest fully, sweat a little, move often, get sunlight, breathe easy, eat well and laugh a bit.
We will get through this alone – together.