No one has predicted this. No one. But we’ve all seen movies and read books, and it’s hard not to panic as real life starts to imitate art. Panicking, however, doesn’t help. This is why it’s important to stay grounded during this time: continue your meditation practice if you have one, exercise, eat as healthily as it’s possible, now practice your Blue Mind techniques, and, above all, stay connected.
People with the substance-use disorder who are in recovery already know this: isolating is contradictory to healing, and it’s connecting with others that helps people get their lives back.
This is why I think it’s important to emphasize the fact that being told to socially distance is not equivalent to becoming a hermit. Sure, physically, that’s what that looks like, but we cannot give in to despair and devote our lives to Netflix and reading disconcerting news on-line. Incidentally, it is because of the Internet that we are prepared better than any other time to socialize and connect with others even when we can’t even leave our homes. In my own community, I’ve seen people organize meetings on-line, post meditation or yoga videos that are streamed live, organize into group chats, and just generally support each other through this unprecedented event.
As humans, we have enormous capabilities to adapt to our circumstances, and we must remind ourselves to take advantage of that. We’re no longer able to organize in public, we’re no longer able to see friends or even family, but this doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be able to find ways to always stay in touch. The world is not ending, we need to remain hopeful, and we need to look out for one another. Text people, call them, send them messages on Facebook. You’re helping yourself as much as you’re helping others by doing that.
I don’t think in my lifetime there has ever been as unifying disaster like this one. I’m saying “unifying” because I want to look at this from a place of empowerment rather than failure. We are all in trouble. This is terrible, but it’s also good because, for the first time ever, we are able to gain full empathy and insight into how others might feel. We are no longer divided by money or class or power. In essence, this is an equal opportunity challenger, at least for now. Some celebrities and politicians have tested positive for the virus. Even those who feel brazen in the face of this because of their age and robust immune system cannot ignore the fact that no one is truly alone here. A 20-something student might carry the virus and pass it onto an older relative. In that way, the virus is universal, and the sooner we understand that, the more we’ll be able to lean into this situation. And once we do, we will feel connected and can start to heal mentally, or at least we won’t mentally deteriorate. During a crisis, it is crucial to stay sane and reasonable because only a sound mind is able to deal with mitigating circumstances. Fear does nothing for us. Only love and support of one another can get us through this.
There is a reason why solitary confinement is considered one of the cruelest forms of punishment. Being unable to communicate and be around others erodes our humanity and sense of self. Please keep in mind that this is not solitary confinement—this is a unique opportunity to come together while apart.
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