by Martin Evans
I received a note through my door yesterday. It said, ‘This seems a wonderful opportunity to show awareness of one another and create a ripple effect of kindness’. It went on to suggest ways we can look out for our neighbours to help them through the current situation. Isn’t it wonderful how adversity can bring out the best in people.
Caring for ourselves is caring for others
The best way of not passing the virus onto others is to not to catch it ourselves. So rather than following the guidance out of fear, it can be out of compassion and kindness. Fear leads to anxiety and depression – kindness is a wonderful antidote. If your busy life has just come to a halt, think what opportunities there are to spread some kindness.
Keeping in touch
Many people live alone – they already feel isolated, and now they are told to self-isolate. A phone call doesn’t spread the virus. Keep in touch. It helps to talk.
It is an opportunity to ring people you haven’t spoken to for years. Perhaps it is an opportunity to mend bridges you thought were irreparably broken.
How can mindfulness help?
If we feel anxious, depressed or confused – whatever we experience, this is a great opportunity to ask, ‘How can mindfulness help?’. One source of depression is constantly listening to the news - once a day is more than enough. Overthinking won’t help.
Simply by remembering not to touch our face, we will increase our mindfulness and discover it is possible to change our habits. Remembering not to shake hands for example - we can do this, and notice the feelings which arise. If you need to self-isolate and are thinking there is nothing you can do - you can use this as an opportunity to develop mindfulness – if we can be with the experience of not knowing, of uncertainty, we will use this time well.
Building in meditation
If your mind is very busy, meditation can help us calm down. If it doesn’t seem to work, don’t give up. Try a different approach - experiment. The Buddha gave many detailed instructions on how to meditate, both to control the mind and to gain insight. Training the mind through meditation and mindfulness is essential to understand our intentions and to act with wisdom. If you have more time on your hands, think of ways you can build more meditation and mindfulness into your day.
Wisdom means not creating suffering out of our experience.
Just taking a statement like this and reflecting on it is a meditation practice. However it feels, good or bad, better or worse, we might reflect, ‘it’s just like this’ and feel a sense of relief.
What better opportunity than now, when the wheels seem to have fallen off the world, to understand suffering and how we create it, how it ceases, and let the path which leads to the end of suffering become clear.
Martin Evans - 17 March 2020