The era of coronavirus is ushering in pain, loss & distance; but it’s also providing an opportunity to develop a new sense of responsibility in our lives
In the 17th Century, the French philosopher Blaise Pascal wrote that all of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.
Judging by recent data released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unconscious urge to immerse our attention in external things still exists today; 83% of a group of surveyed subjects stated that although they found time to exercise or fit leisure activities into their days, 0% had dedicated any time to being alone with their thoughts. Similarly, participants of a recent study published in Science were given the choice between spending time alone in the exclusive company of their thoughts or receiving a small electric shock. Sadly, 67% of men and 25% of women chose the latter.
In a world filled with increasingly busy schedules, what fuels our propinquity towards an entirely externalised experience?
What is it about the prospect of being alone with our thoughts and our buried personal realities that appears so terrifying?
Our indoctrinated preference for doing over being — even if what we’re doing is detrimental to us — has standardised the desire to occupy ourselves with anything just so that we don’t have to be alone with ourselves. Labelled as unproductive or even lazy, introspection is certainly not the new black.
But there are certain times in our lives when our sense of fragility becomes unexpectedly accentuated and unbearable, usually without warning. At such moments we are mercilessly confronted with our own mortality and isolation as it seems that we have nowhere else to go but within.
As we are all confronted with a new sense of normal in the midst of a global pandemic, this curious place we have fought hard to avoid is now hauling us in, bypassing the urges of our extroverted minds to escape to familiar lands of distraction and superficial identification.
Here we’re pushed out of our normal concept of Self and into a enter a deeper dimension of consciousness that is inseparable from the present moment.
As the notions of an imagined tomorrow no longer dictate the reality of our today, we wait for great calamities to ignite a path for us — be it an illness, financial loss, or emotional heartbreak. As painful as this may be, the withdrawal from our comfort zone is the prerequisite for a journey of self-re-connection.
Within us there is a whole life that is just waiting to be listened to and welcomed, a life which allows us to return to the natural rhythms of life and to cultivate those values so important to the survival of this planet.
As an inverted Trojan horse, this new virus that we’re experiencing is bringing us pain, separation, loss, distance; but it also allows us, if we let it, to develop a new and deeper sense of responsibility, reciprocity, cooperation, empathy, respect, love and kindness.
We are learning that the fate of the people we love and the whole community depends on our individual actions…
…that personal interests must be balanced with regard to the collective situation. This is an important evolutionary step that requires us to stop in order to hear and understand. When we stop to listen we hear everything that happens, inside and outside of ourselves: anger, helplessness, frustration, anxiety, despair, fear… but also empathy, compassion, love, gratitude, kindness, silence. Everything.
We are becoming aware of this important level of interconnectedness between the internal and the external environments, the intimate relationship that exists between our thoughts, impressions, ideas, emotions, and what happens in the external world around us. We are now slowly begin to understand the impact of our inner worlds on the reality and design of our individual, social, and collective destiny.
When we allow a deeper well of authenticity and honesty to take center stage of our creations, we recognize this internal calling as a private invitation to re-connect — even if going deeper is a paralyzing concept to our ego self.
We are all powerful storytellers, but we have often fooled ourselves into believing the stories we tell to be true. We tend to create — sometimes consciously, but mostly not — rich tales based on our codes of reality about who we ought to be and who we should be in the eyes of others. We come to believe in our stories so powerfully that when the narrative is externally paused or even rattled, our worth stops with it.
Our identity, so deeply interconnected with the doing of our lives, becomes compelled to follow the rules of the made-up protagonist that existed only in our minds.
When the movie becomes jangled and silence is all that plays, we become aware that the muted subconscious monologue of our inner Self is still playing on repeat. Since we are not accustomed to the sound of our internal dialogue, solitude becomes challenging. When our inner environment is polluted with anger, separation, loneliness, conflict, competition, frustration, anxiety and hatred, the external environment will reflect this condition. By understanding that emotions of survival create separation, we acknowledge that we’re only suggestible to information equal to the emotions that we experience.
So, what can we do to regain control of our deepest selves?
For starters, before embarking on a plan to clean up the world, start by tidying up your bedroom. And that means embracing the power of your mind over the genes and biology of your body.
One way is to start a meditation practice. It has been proven that meditation lowers blood pressure by generating the slower alpha and theta waves in the brain calming the amygdala, which is linked to fear and anxiety. It takes only a few minutes of practice to “turn off” the genes related to the processes of inflammation and cell death, regulate moods, and inhibit the production of cytokine and other chemicals that can be harmful to your health left unchecked.
As you ponder the role of human beings on this planet, start by rebuilding from the very bottom of your heart. Once you have an awareness of the impact that our own intimate feelings, thoughts, and emotions have on the world, that’s when a new revolution can begin — an inner revolution that can truly change your sense of individual and collective identity.
We can finally explore a different meaning of ourselves, discovering a new empathy and consciously designing our lives.
We can rise and be reborn with the rest of life. This is what Mother Nature is asking us. Let’s answer with love to this call.
You may also enjoy reading Radical Responsibility: The Key To Moving From Suffering To True Agency & Freedom by Fleet Maull