"The truth is that our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled. For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers." —M. Scott Peck
The coronavirus pandemic has shuttered schools, closed restaurants, canceled events, disrupted travel, and changed our lives in both small and dramatic ways. We are truly in uncharted waters as we try to navigate the choppy waters of uncertainty and change.
Please know that we are sending you compassion and wishes for well-being and strength and that we are here to support you in any way we can.
In the midst of uncertainty and fear, it is often hard to see through the accumulating clouds. And yet, it is also a time to remember our strengths and resources and to remember that we aren't alone. This is a time to recall that this isn't happening to "just them" or "just me," but to all of us, and that we are in this together; and even in this time of social distancing, we can draw on each other's support. This is a wake-up call to what Thich Nhat Hanh calls our "interbeing."
It is also a time to remember how resilient we can be. As General George Patton reminded us, "We should not measure someone's success by how high they climb but how high they bounce when they hit bottom." We now have an opportunity to demonstrate to ourselves and the world our ability to bend but not break—and bounce.
So, what are some of the things that will help us find our way through these difficult times?
Facing our fears head-on instead of running from them.
It is so tempting to look the other way, run from what threatens us. But it is the very act of turning away that builds the dark clouds of fear and panic in our minds. When we face what we fear most, our vision begins to clear, and we can start to see ways we can be with and work with the discomfort. We can see that fear is a physical and emotional reaction that is telling us to run. But the faster and farther we run, the more the fear pursues us.
Seeing through the lens of hope and possibility.
Yes, we find ourselves in unprecedented times, and it is in precisely those times when our path is obscured that we have the opportunity to find a new path. As Joseph Campbell reminds us, "As you go the way of life, you will see a great chasm. Jump. It is not as wide as you think." Even on the darkest day, there are moments of light. Let us find those moments to light our way.
Leaning on each other.
One of my favorite parts of teaching yoga was at the end of class, when I would bow to my students, with my hands pressed together in prayer position, to offer my respect and love to each beautiful soul in the class. "Namaste" means, "I honor the light that shines in your heart that also shines within my heart."
Even though we are being asked to maintain our distance from one another, we have this incredible technology toolbox to keep us connected. Our hearts can be joined even as we take shelter in our homes. It is by honoring and working together that we will come through this. We need each other and we truly are one tribe.
Resurrecting our spiritual practices and leaning into something larger than ourselves.
It is in times like these that I try to keep in mind that we are all traveling to the same mountain. Depending on where we start, we may need different tools and clothing to help us find our way. But the closer we get to that mountain, the more things will look and feel the same, and the more we realize that it is the same mountain.
As we travel, let us renew those practices that have sustained us. Whether it is prayer, meditation, yoga, or communing with nature, may we bring ourselves back to the spring that sustains us. We are all looking for ways to navigate this storm. Let's do it together.
Written by Carol Hendershot, Co-Founder, Certified MBSR Instructor, Grand Rapids Center for Mindfulness.
This article was republished with permission and originally appeared at Grand Rapids Center for Mindfulness.