Mindful Mondays: What the pandemic is teaching us about fear

'I’ve struggled to find a way to articulate my deep seeded sadness as I watch how easily we tear each other apart.'

Mindful Monday

Loka Samastha Sukhino Bhavantu is a beautifully poetic Sanskrit mantra that means:

May all beings be happy and free,
And may the thoughts, words, and actions of
My own life contribute in some way
to that happiness and freedom for all.

The consistent and steady frequency of dialogue in the world through the last 18+ months has been one laced with fear. In all perspectives, whether our beliefs, science, the lack of information, data, or emotions, I hear the same tone of fear. It’s become normalized to live in a state that’s restrictive, hardening and taxes our nervous system in ways that are toxic to our well-being.

If we could just remember that our ‘freedom’ lies in the way we speak our thoughts about ourselves and others. That we deepen our love or fear, our peace or war, our anxiety or calm by what we think, and our thoughts turn into our words which facilitate our actions. If we want to continue living with sorrow and radical divisiveness, let’s continue as we are now.

But if we want to see more love, peace and calm we need to look at our attachments to fear and abandon the belief system that continues to provoke dissatisfaction in our world.

It doesn’t mean we desert our beliefs or confusion about what’s happening in our world; rather, we choose to use our voices to speak to policymakers instead of attacking each other for what’s happening. We need to find ways to use our voices for good instead of using them to destroy connectivity with each other.

Radical shifts come from a deep belief that kindness can create change.

Using our frustrations to make one perspective wrong shows a lack of emotional regulation. When we use our emotions as a way to voice our beliefs instead of using our beliefs as a way to locate our regulated self, we’ve disconnected from the instability we feel inside and project that discomfort outward.

If we could use the discomfort to slow down and learn how to self-regulate the complexity of our nervous system (instead of responding from fear), we might actually start to repair the damage and trauma we’ve caused.

This is a complex and confusing time, but we can learn to calm our nervous system before we use our voices. We can learn to steady the reactivity. Instead of getting pulled into the drama of complex global and local information that’s pushing us further apart, I believe we can do an inner reactivity cleanse – the kind of thing that teaches us to be more patient and open minded to and with each other.

This pandemic is a spiritual calling. It’s a time to see how much we’ve all been triggered into believing there’s only one way. There’s never only one way; anyone that’s ever raised a child, produced a creative project, or worked hard for anything in life knows there are many ways to find solutions.

There are also two ways to travel to any destination:

1. By being stressed and overwhelmed, which leads to a lack of patience, erratic responses, and despair; OR

2. By working hard to manage the desire to be stressed and constantly resetting our thoughts and nervous system in a way that brings ease and joy to our journey.

I’ve struggled to find a way to articulate my deep seeded sadness as I watch how easily we tear each other apart. I’ve watched this wave of fear begin boldly in March of 2020 and it’s gained such monumental momentum that we’re all experiencing a lack of calmness and trust in each other.

The opposite of fear is curiosity. It’s not certainty, coercion, attacking, belittling or degradation.

We need to be curious with ourselves, with our tension and with the parts of ourselves that want to attack. See if we can find a way back to understand and manage our behaviours and our reactions to our feelings with the things happening around us.

Is anyone with me? Does anyone else want to see more good? It’s hard work, but we can remind ourselves daily that we want to be part of the collective good. That happiness and freedom for all of us comes from our own thoughts, words and actions. Hopefully there are more of us who want this than those who want to live in fear.

Noelle Bovon