My dearest partner and best friend, DC, chooses to think about these COVID-19 inspired times of physical distancing in terms of incubation as opposed to isolation.
Being isolated from others can potentially have deleterious effects on societies throughout the world. Being isolated, it’s easy to lose sight of our human commonality and become fixed in our ideals. Without the checks and balances provided by frequent interactions with others who have different worldviews, we tend to become even more certain about what we believe. Certitude may result in less tolerance and understanding.
In our isolation, there is potential to let go of meaningful relationships (I am so grateful for the online technology that helps to keep us connected!). It is through the development and maintenance of these meaningful relationships, especially those with whom we disagree, that we develop empathy. Empathy is the foundation for compassion. If we believe that we are somehow different from others, it’s unlikely that we’ll be able to see ourselves in them. And if we can’t see ourselves in them, we are less likely recognize their pain and help to ease their suffering. We tend to forget that their pain is our pain – our pain is also their pain. Nevertheless, even though we may have contrastingly different opinions and beliefs, we have more in common than we tend to realize.
My teacher, John Bruna, likes to think about our common ground in these terms:
“Just like me, all others are trying to find happiness.
Just like me, all others are trying to avoid suffering.
Just like me, all others have known sadness, despair, and loss.
Just like me, all others are trying to get their needs met.
Just like me, all others are learning how to live.
Just like me, all others are deserving of compassion.”
I think that there is one more that is of utmost importance, “Just like me, there is not a single person on this planet who is not being affected by COVD -19.” While each of our lifeboats may be of varying quality, we are all having to weather this storm. What we do with our alone time [in our mind] will influence how we emerge from this global pandemic.
How you emerge from this pandemic is largely up to you.
Here again, I in no way want to minimize the difficulties of the physical proximity restrictions placed upon us. For some people, this is incredibly difficult. Nevertheless, it is a time that can be used for deep personal reflection; a time when we can transform into better versions of ourselves.
Each one of us could easily create a list of five ways in which we could improve our life. Meow is the time to put these aspirations into action and like a caterpillar in its cocoon, emerge from this pandemic an even more beautiful creature.
Personal development takes time and energy. For many of us, these physical distancing protocols have created an abundance of time. Rather than focusing on what we can’t do, we can put energy into intentionally nurturing ourselves into a more loving and compassionate being. This is an ideal time to get to know ourselves. A time in which we can explore what drives and motivates us, to better understand our attachments and aversions, investigate the true nature of our suffering, and expose the lies that we tell ourselves about who we are and how we’re different from others. If we understand who we are, at the deepest level, when we arise from this pandemic we will be better equipped to see through the deceptive differences that are the conditions for so much suffering and be able to embrace our shared humanity.
Regardless of how you spend your time and emerge from these trying opportunities, just know that you are loved by me, Unconditionally. I am here to support you.
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