The coronavirus pandemic is challenging to our well-being in many ways. It has taken away physical connection with others, routine, many outlets for physical activity and entertainment, among many others. It may even take away our jobs and sense of purpose. One additional challenge is the extent to which the future has become so much more uncertain, be it with respect to our health, freedom to move around, employment, financial security, etc.
It is very natural for the mind to get busy trying solve a problem or prepare to face a threat or, at the very least, try to fill in some of the unknowns. Ultimately, it is difficult if not impossible to resolve the uncertainty at the moment. There are few answers out there. So we need to be able to tolerate the uncertainty.
To make matters worse, our minds typically have a negativity bias, which means that the narrative the mind imposes on the uncertainty is often negative or even catastrophic. ‘What if I get the virus if I go to the grocery store? There’s no way I’ll have a job on the other end of this. Will I ever see my friends in Italy again?’ These thoughts can seriously amplify our anxieties or drag our moods down.
I have been practicing and sharing a meditation that can help us tolerate uncertainty and move on from worries and ruminations. The core of it is the insight that even if the future is uncertain and the stakes are high, in THIS moment everything is ok. Things might get more complicated or difficult next week. But next week hasn’t happened yet. And if circumstances do get worse, wan can mobilize our resources to rise to that occasion. Or we may end up surprising ourselves when we realize that even THAT particular moment is ok.
This practice is an invitation to let go of the hunger to resolve uncertainty and engage with the present moment. You might also try using your senses. Look around. Listen. Touch things. Go for a walk and feel your leg muscles working for you. Breathe. If you can, give someone a hug. If you are feeling keyed up or unsettled, know that your body is doing everything it can to protect you from danger. And it’s kind of miraculous.
If any of these practices provide some engagement with the present moment, you now have some space to be intentional about what you do next. What do you need in this moment? Who or what is important to you? What is the person you want to be doing? Use the energy your body is mobilizing to propel you toward doing good in the world.
Give it a try and let me know how it feels.