“The greatest need of our time is to clean out the enormous mass of mental and emotional rubbish that clutters our mind.”
As the worry and fear of the coronavirus continues lapping towards our doors and lintels, the above quote from Thomas Merton, well-known author and contemplative monk who lived at Gethsemane Monastery in Gethsemane, Ky just outside of Bardstown, resonated with me.
While our reputable mainstream news and media outlets are making a concerted effort to keep us informed with important safety and contact information regarding the coronavirus, there is another arm of social media spewing nonfactual and dangerous misinformation about the coronavirus pandemic.
How do we filter out the sensational misinformation and, at the same time, not be overwhelmed with the ever-updating accurate information? It’s a juggling act and we may drop several of the multi-colored balls in the process.
Remember in another life when there were words in our vocabulary called “boundaries” and “setting limits?” These words are still operative. Each of us as mature adults needs to consider, reflect on how we respond to – react to – “TMI,” to use millennial jargon. If you are feeling overwhelmed with too much information, step away from the screen or turn off the knob.
“Mindfulness” is a trendy word these days. Some of us grew up with what we termed meditation or more currently, contemplation. Whichever term you relate to, taking time to be still, to be quiet within, to bring calm to your spirit is healthy for body, mind and spirit; to step away from the uncertainty that inundates us and take time to simply be aware of NOW. Where am I? What’s most important to me? Centering on what surrounds me, what calms, what lessens my fear as I worry about loved ones who I cannot be with, about the financial hardships that this pandemic brings to so many doorsteps, the risk to healthcare providers.
As we face our fears, our vulnerabilities, our anxieties, with the pandemic that is threatening us nationally and globally, being quiet, listening to our breathing, imaging peaceful horizons; these small acts can provide some respite for our spirit.
Find some healthy distractions. Make sure you take advantage of the spring weather to get out to walk at a safe distance from others.
In our household we are writing down three things we are each grateful for each day and sharing those. Focusing on the positives doesn’t make the negatives disappear but focusing on the positive reduces the power and energy that the negative has over us.
Psychologists suggest that in a time of chaos and uncertainty, we seek order. The theory is that while we may not be able to control the uncertainty of the coronavirus, we can control and put in order elements of our own lives. So, for many of us as we are “sheltering in place” we find ourselves cleaning out basements, garages and the “catch all” sewing room.
Just this week I cleaned out one bookcase and one of my least favorite spaces, the closet floor! Additionally, my spouse and I are slowly – like climbing Mt. Everest slowly – contemplating organizing the 49 carousels of photo slides that are glaring at us in our dining room. My hunch is that we will all be back on the street before that happens, but it’s a thought.
I would like to close with this quote from, Julian of Norwich, Mystic from the Middle Ages.
“All shall be well, for there is a Force of Love moving through the universe that holds us fast and will never let go.”
Be Safe, Be Well, Be Patient, Be Kind. These are stressful times. Patience, Kindness and Gentleness may not eradicate the coronavirus, but they will deescalate the stress.