Pandemic Panic? Here Are 4 Mindsets To Overcome The Fear

The world’s outer situation has been a great test of my inner situation. It’s been rather embarrassing actually, discovering myself in the depths of incessant mental chatter and anxiety surrounding the prevailing pandemic. As a long-time meditator, I expected much more of myself. I thought I’d be a beacon of hope and inspiration in the whirling winds. 

But, the opposite happened. I found myself cut off at the knees, shaking from drinking an entire French press of coffee, with my hand buried deep in a bag of chocolate. So basically, I compounded my panic with stimulants, with no escape in sight.

In a spirit of compassion for myself, uncertainty had attacked me from all angles, all at once. And to top it off, I had just cut my hair in an attempt to infuse change into my life. Unbeknownst to me, change was coming for me, short hair or not.   

I suppose, viewed another way, I triumphed in the end. I caught myself by the hem of my skirt before both of my feet slipped off the cliff of pandemic panic. I caught myself before I lost my balance entirely.

And I owe it to the practices and habits I curated over the years. The half-life of this crisis was significantly less than what it would otherwise have been, and its grip was not nearly as strong, not even close to being unbearable or suffocating. Years ago, things may have gone another way. I may have lived in that state of dis-ease for months on end, unable to lift myself up or prop myself up. 

So this new challenge has provided me with fresh insight and helpful tips to share with anyone who may have lost their balance too. 

You Are Always Home. Decorate Well.

“Wherever you go, there you are.”

If I asked you where you’d like to live, you’d likely respond with a location on a map; maybe somewhere hot, somewhere luxurious, or simply somewhere new.  Very few would realize that no matter where they end up, their mind will end up there with them.

Lockdown has forced us all to spend a great deal of time within the confines of our homes. And many of us have been rendered restless, anxiously waiting until we can see greener pastures. But we can’t forget—our mind is our ultimate and only true home. So we have to work to make it a beautiful place to live.

If I could give anyone advice about anything, it’d be to work on being happy.

Learn to be happy despite and because of everything; wear happiness as though it is your own skin, as if it is simply part of you, and you will always be happy wherever you are.

So many of us wonder, will I be happy? forgetting that happiness is within us. You can’t point to happiness the way you can point to a waterfall. You just know it when it is burning within you. So my advice is this: keep it within you, no matter the cost. No matter what happens, always bring your own happiness.

You’ll find it’s an unlimited reserve, and as unromantic and mechanic as it can seem, it is a capacity that grows the more you tend to it.

Cultivate happiness and harvest unshakeable fulfillment. Happiness can happen to you, but is it not a tragic mismanagement of our limited days, to wait for it to stumble upon you by chance?

When we are happiness, we radiate happiness into the world around us. We infect others through an emotional contagion, creating more happiness. 

Regain Pandemic Perspective.

Let’s take a moment to see things differently.

We have to rein in the fear. Our current scientific paradigm is dogmatic: it is predicated on germ theory, which purports that microbes invade our bodies and lead to disease. It sidesteps the integral role of the overall functioning of the organism; i.e., the protective power of health.

This disease-based dogma is the basis for the most destructive pandemic: the pandemic of fear.

Yes, viruses exist. But viruses always exist, and we can never exterminate every virus or prevent them from mutating. The only thing we can optimize is our baseline level of health, which is the only true armour against disease.

But let me ask you this: where is the propaganda on improving immunity? Where are the campaigns to educate us on the role of the microbiome? Where is the discourse on mental and physical resilience? Proactive measures of augmenting health have been kept out of the conversation; the conversation has been solely about spreading fear.

And guess what? Fear destroys health. Fear takes a sledgehammer to our immunity, and it dampens our ability to love, connect, and tap into our collective power. Fear pits me against you, us against them, my family before yours. Fear destroys all.

Our best antidote to fear is rationality. Rationality says: yes, perhaps this situation exists. Yes, perhaps I have to take the appropriate precautions. But apart from washing my hands and optimizing my health, panic plays no part in disease prevention, COVID-19 or not. It only feeds into a primitive impulse to separate ourselves from our higher calling, our social connections, and our collective strength.

Fear makes life myopic: we are reduced to animals just wanting to survive. But living is so much more than survival; living is about acknowledging danger and pursuing what is important to us in spite of it. Because danger will always exist. Illness is always a possibility.

But our days have always been limited, and will always be limited—what a shame it would be to waste them by wallowing in fear.

You Don’t Have To Move Mountains.

Serendipitously, we are confronted with an empowering paradox: the biggest step you can take in this moment is actually the smallest step.

With or without deliberate intent, in every area of our lives, we have built momentum. Every action, no matter how small, thrusts us down one path or another. And if we don’t like where we’ve wound up, we can deduce that we built considerable momentum in the wrong direction.

And the easiest way to alter our direction is to gain momentum in the opposite direction—and all this requires one. small. step.

You don’t have to organize a virtual social distancing party to remediate your social life. You just have to send one text; make one connection; talk to one person. From there, momentum will grow—the hardest part about change is the initial step, or in scientific terms, the hardest part is overcoming the static friction required to get a thing moving in the first place.

Static friction is always stronger than kinetic friction, which is the force of resistance you must overcome to keep something moving. So, once you get something moving (i.e., by sending one text), it is easier to keep that thing going (i.e., maintaining regular communication with your friends).

Remember: There is Wisdom in Waiting.

When big things happen that are beyond my control, I am reminded of the Chinese concept of Wu Wei: the wisdom of waiting. It speaks to the futility of fighting the present moment, and the importance of equanimity during the vicissitudes of life.

Wu Wei is the art of doing nothing. But it points to a paradox: when required, this form of enlightened inaction is the most effective approach. It is an attitude of flowing with life as opposed to against it.

It also serves to remind us that we can’t know from an egotistic vantage point that things are not perfect as they are. Perhaps from a divine perspective, everything is unfolding exactly as it should. And so, my job—and my only option if I intend to find peace amidst the panic—is to accept what is, and act accordingly.

I’d like to put the question to you: is anything inherently good or bad in life?

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