We can wash away our worries and fears, and restore our peace of mind, every time we wash our hands.
Whatever else is true about the drama playing out with the coronavirus, Covid19, it is a test of character on a global scale. It is bringing out the best, and the worst, in huge numbers of people.
As well as the physical health issues, there are also mental health issues as large sections of the human population are facing unexpected challenges around travel, finances, work, social distancing and so on. Emotions of fear and worry are stressing many of us whether it is worry about our own health or worry about an elderly, or ailing, relative.
For some this crises becomes a chance to affirm the interconnectedness of the human family (as well as wanting to find the cause so as to stop this happening again); for others it a chance to affirm their old fears and prejudices. When widespread crisis hits some go looking for someone they can help; and some go looking for someone they can blame.
This plays itself out most obviously in our political leaders. Whatever their political persuasion, those who like to present themselves as “in control” or “in the know” don’t like to look like they are helpless or floundering. Yet, many of them are floundering. Those who sought political power to further their own ends are not well suited to being faced with the challenge of doing something real and meaningful for their people – especially when there are huge political risks involved. However, some will rise to the occasion and hopefully they will be ennobled by it. At least the virus crises may give us a chance to see what some of our politicians are really like as their character and deeper motives are being displayed by what they say and do. Some of our favourites may turn out to be false; and some we currently dislike may turn out to have some real mettle in their character. If we vote for people only out of self-interest should we be surprised that some of the people we vote for cannot rise above their own self-interest?
What can we as individuals do in the midst of all this? How can we be ennobled by it? We can also rise to the occasion and use it as a chance to cultivate the best in us. We can take whatever practical steps we can to try and avoid getting or spreading the virus, but we can also take steps to not catch the fear, worry or panic going around. By recognising that there are two aspects of the virus (the physical and the psychological) we can avoid catching either one.
We can wash our hands regularly as advised, yet we can do this in a spirit of caring rather than fear. We can do this because we are compassionate people not because we are fearful. We can even turn it into a short mediation, mindfulness exercise, or a prayer of blessing. In these way we not only protect ourselves from physical viruses but also from the psychological ones. We can wash away our worries and fears, we can wash away the past and restore our peace of mind, every time we wash our hands.
We can also make the most of any social distancing and turn it into a time of reflection. We can spend more time in nature, if that is an option for us. Time alone, used wisely, can strengthen us. We can use the situation to reinforce the best in us by looking to that which uplifts us; rather than using it to reinforce our worries and fears by watching endless “virus updates”.
Is there an uplifting book you have been meaning to read, or an inspiring video you have been meaning to watch? Are you needlessly adding to the amount of fear and worry in your friends and relatives? Is there something practical, or inspiring, you can share instead, or can you be a point of centeredness and steadiness in their lives?
And of course, we can use this as a chance to forgive. We can forgive those who we want to blame for the situation and its effects on us.445