Article by Serge Beddington-Behrens Ph.D
Times have undoubtedly been tough over the last few months, especially if you live alone, feeling like you must walk the other way whenever a ‘mask-less’ person approaches, you can’t just go out and meet friends for a drink or a hug (knowing if we do, we may be risking our lives) and not knowing if our old jobs will ever return. We’re not, as some suggest, ‘all in it together’. The impact of this virus has been much tougher on some of us than on others.
What I’ve come to see is that disasters act as magnifiers or intensifiers. If our lives had anyway been a bit insecure emotionally or financially, or if we were anyway feeling in a bit of a rut, then these experiences will have become amplified. So do not be hard on yourself if you feel uncertain and scared. You are not alone!
My advice is that we really have to accept the reality of ‘what is’, namely, that insecurity is the order of the day, and that we are all plumb in the middle of a global crisis affecting many areas of our daily lives, and that nobody – least of all our politicians – knows what is going to happen next.
Bolster your inner strength
In these circumstances, it really helps to do things to bolster up our inner strength, and here are some things that may help. We need to share our fears and doubts with our good friends – get things off our chest. We need to ensure we keep fit – go for long walks, exercise in the fresh air – as feeling in good shape physically, really helps us feel more solid emotionally. As does choosing to eat healthily – cut our intake of junk food, stop watching hours of junk television, as both activities diminish the health of our immune system.
Very important is spending time out in nature, and if we are near a sea shore, lake or river, we can stand up to our knees in the water, feel the solid earth under our feet, be aware of the breeze blowing in our face and the sun warming us from above, and we can stretch out our arms and say, ‘Four elements, please enter me and heal me and make me whole and strong and healthy.’ Doing little rituals like this may sound a bit cuckoo, but they really work, as the thoughts we think affect how we feel, and I do variations of this with all the people who come to me on my healing retreats. Yes, nature is the great healer. We can also lie down on the soft earth and say, ‘Great Mother Earth, please take my anxieties,’ and visualise them pouring out of us and going into the ground.
Meditation is also vital in times like these. It calms us, and today there are so many online classes we can go on for free. We can also listen to music we love, as that is a great source of joy, and we can try taking up a great novel like Middlemarch by George Eliot or Anna Karenina by Tolstoy. The gift of reading great novels is that they take us out of our own sometimes narrow little worlds. This is why great literature can be so expanding.
Dark clouds have silver linings
If there are people we are angry with or bear grudges towards, see if we can start forgiving them, and if there are issues inside us that continue to plague us – and in the past we’ve always kept ourselves so busy that we’ve never needed to confront them – then you might need to contact a psychotherapist. Some problems just can’t be handled on our own and I see it as a sign of strength not weakness, to acknowledge that we may need help. I’ll conclude by saying what I wrote about this virus in my new book, Gateways to the Soul: Inner work for the outer world (August 6 2020, Inner Traditions):
‘Please remember that dark clouds always have silver linings and that dawn always emerges when night is at its blackest. My strong hunch is that underneath the seeming curse of this virus, lies a profound blessing, and that in all its explosiveness, it is serving to clear away much of the debris on our planet, in order to make room for a new world to be born… Think of all the many crises which we face today. Perhaps this pandemic has not only come to save us from them but to shock us into whole new realisations about how, species wise, we might confront them more intelligently. (If shocks don’t kill us, they can radically wake us up!) Thus, seeming only to be an agent of death, the Coronavirus may well be one of rebirth and resurrection, and perhaps, at a deeper level, we are all being called not to mourn the old life we may be losing, but to welcome in a new world that may be dawning.’
Just be with that as a possibility!
Serge Beddington-Behrens Ph.D
Author of Gateways to the Soul: Inner work for the outer world by Serge Beddington-Behrens, published by Inner Traditions, is available online and in all good bookshops from August 6 2020 priced at £14.99.