Param Srikantia (Swami Deva Anugraha) shows five ways how the COVID-19 situation can also be used as transformative. Published on cleveland.com, May 3, 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused devastation in the economic, social, emotional and spiritual dimensions of human life. While grieving the tragic loss of life, income, food and shelter for millions, let’s also focus in on the emotional and spiritual dimensions of the tragedy.
Stressful situations can both hinder and stimulate personal growth in unexpected ways. As we examine our lives, we discover that pain, shame and failure often enable us to expand our capabilities. The shelter-in-place protocols are changing our lives psychologically and spiritually.
Consider five dimensions that shed light on a few ways in which we are being transformed by the coronavirus, inspired by the works of the prolific Indian mystic Osho, who left behind a legacy of profound insights into the human condition through 2,000 books.
Living Powerfully in the Present
As my activity-driven life has come to a screeching halt, I see that I have been sleepwalking through life like a mechanical robot, seldom noticing even the trees just outside my windows. By becoming conscious of contagion, I am now more aware of even doorknobs and elevator buttons! Formerly mechanical acts like washing my hands or opening a parcel are now filled with a deep Zen-like awareness.
The Flowering of Gratitude
We are able to appreciate things that we formerly took for granted. Human beings live posthumously in that we recognize the value of something only after we lose it. I feel like an awakened being, now that I can savor a FaceTime conversation with my son Elliot like never before.
Discovering Intimacy Beyond Social Masks
In our fast-paced lives, we seldom explore who we (or our loved ones) are beneath our social and emotional masks. The pandemic has collapsed the separation of work and home. In examining my “expert” mask, I could see that it made me feel competent, but was also a cover-up for feelings of personal inadequacy. Intimate conversations with our families can enable us to appreciate the “real” person beneath those masks.
Exploring the Roots of Our Sadness, Fear and Anger
The pandemic has created a psychological context in which our repressed emotions surface. While I have tried to blame my sadness, fear and anger on the coronavirus, I have begun exploring the roots of these trapped emotions in their childhood origins. According to Osho, we carry “unsobbed tears” consisting of suppressed sadness, which an unsettling experience (such as the pandemic) can bring to our awareness – allowing us to explore and heal.
Mindfulness in Observing Our Chattering Monkey
Even while reading this article, there is probably a voice inside your head continuously talking to you! Eastern mystics have called this the “chattering monkey.” The stress in our lives is often a result of the stories and interpretations made up by our chattering monkey. As Osho reminds us, if we can start watching these thoughts in our head as if they are just clouds floating by, without getting sucked into them, we can achieve mindfulness. We can then laugh at all the drama that our chattering monkey creates by compounding our problems.
By exploring the impact of the pandemic on the inner life of our loved ones, we can grow in self-awareness and in intimacy. The tragic increase in the abuse of women and children from the shelter-in-place calls for a new pandemic – one of empathy and awareness, for humanity to grow its collective compassion.
cleveland.com – Image by Osho News