Reorganizing Our Lives in The Midst of The Covid-19 Pandemic

Reorganizing Our Lives in The Midst of The Covid-19 Pandemic

The virus responsible for the Covid-19 pandemic has been spreading rapidly since it first emerged in the city of Wuhan, located in the Hubei province of China. The number of infections and the death toll continues to skyrocket in many parts of the world. We have legitimate reason to be concerned for our own health, wellbeing and survival and for that of our friends and loved ones. The elderly, people of color, economically disadvantaged, incarcerated and others who do not have the opportunity to socially distance are at considerably higher risk.

The lockdown has been especially devastating for many small business owners who are now wondering how they’re going to survive. Even larger retailers such as J.C. Penny and Neiman Marcus and the car rental company Hertz are filing for bankruptcy. The airlines have also been hit especially hard. Those of us who are now out of work are wondering how we’re going to cover basic expenses such as rent and utilities or even buy food.

Many of us have for some time now been, and in some instances, are still living in isolation. The hardships and suffering we’ve endured are made worse by the fact that we either cannot or do not feel safe to gather with friends and loved ones.

The United States and countries around the worlds are at this time gradually lifting restrictions. But the rate of infection is spiking in areas where the restrictions are being lifted. Parts of China have already gone back into lockdown and other regions will very likely follow suit. Massive throngs of people packing pool parties and beaches here in the United States are greatly increasing the probability of a spike in the number of infections and deaths.

Living in a time of uncertainty

The Covid-19 pandemic has presented us with so many unknowns. We have no idea of when we’re going to come out the other side of this ordeal. We cannot at this time plan for the future with any degree of certainty.

Life as we have known it has ceased to exist. We will hopefully soon regain some sense of normality, and yet our lives will never fully go back to what they were.

Not all of the realities associated with Covid-19 are negative. It can be difficult for those of us who are caught in the midst of the storm to recognize any good coming of this crisis. However, there are some positives.

Before Covid-19, so much of our time was being consumed by our work and our daily commutes. That didn’t leave us much time for ourselves. Many of us were so dead exhausted by the time we got home at the end of the day that we really didn’t feel like doing much of anything other than stuffing our faces and staring at the idiot tube.

Those of us who are still fortunate (depending upon one’s perspective) enough to be employed, are finding that we no longer have to spend such a large part of our days at our place of employment or commuting to and from work. Once we get our work done, we are free to do as we choose. Whether we are now employed or not, many of us are finding that we have a lot more time on our hands. Although I have heard the reverse as well, that the day never ends because the office is always there. Juggling small children amid your office tasks, coworkers who deem it perfectly fine to email or call you with tasks at all hours because you are “there.”

Many of us have spent our lives building distraction into our days. It’s not at all surprising that we’ve been going stir crazy considering that we haven’t been able to distract ourselves as we normally do. We couldn’t (or still can’t depending on where we live) go shopping, dine out with friends or go out to sporting events, concerts and bars.

We haven’t been able to go to the gym, and some of us still can’t go. The exercise part of going to the gym is good for us, but so many of us always had our earbuds in and have been so plugged into our music while running the treadmill or pumping weights that we were scarcely aware of other people around us or even our own bodies. There is very little room for introspection or to be aware of our feelings in such a highly stimulating environment.

Many of us haven’t known what to do with all this additional time. We may have coped the best we have known how to while holed up in our apartments by laying around, playing video games, watching Netflix, scrolling through our social media feeds and other wasteful activities. But if that’s all we do during this time; we’re not going to be making significant gains or experience growth.

The Covid-19 pandemic has provided us with a valuable opportunity to self-examine, reassess our priorities and reorganize our lives. That all depends upon our capacity for self-reflection and our willingness to actually embrace the opportunity being provided us.

Flying into the midst of the storm

The realities of Covid-19 had already gotten so bad by the time I returned to the United States from Sri Lanka on the 10th of March. I had already made arrangements to go on another vision quest in the Wichita Mountains of Oklahoma before leaving for Sri Lanka in February. I packed everything I anticipated needing over the coming months that I could possibly fit into my suitcases and then bailed out of New York City on the 23rd.

Normally, I would have rested for a week after coming down from the mountain and then resumed my work. Seeing the increasing rate of infection and rising death toll in the news, I knew I wouldn’t be conducting classes or doing the intensive one on one sessions for quite some time. I didn’t feel like I had any other viable options other than to ride the storm out in northern Idaho.

Thriving in the midst of the chaos

In 2008, the “banksters” crashed the economy by engaging in risky financial practices. The bottom fell out from under me as my business plummeted. I had so little money coming in that I wasn’t sure how I was going to make it. There were many nights that I couldn’t fall asleep because of the all-consuming fear and anxiety. That left me feeling totally exhausted and stressed out of my mind.

The Covid-19 pandemic has devastated the global economy. This is the second major financial crash that many of us have lived through within a twelve-year span. Much of the hardship, suffering and financial ruin has resulted from the self-serving greed of those in the financial industry and the ignorance of people consuming disease ridden animals.

Modern-day practices of raising cattle, pigs and chickens for mass consumption are also placing us at grave risks for subsequent pandemics. Sadly, many people fail to pay attention or learn. And far too many who occupy positions of power or work in the financial, agricultural and other essential industries are only in it for profit and therefore have little concern for the wellbeing of others.

I much prefer to work with people in person whether in group or even more so in individual settings. Much of my work is about helping people to become more fully present. For the longest time, I have resisted working online and over the phone.

Much of my resistance to working online is in response to the disconnectedness I see and feel all around me on a daily basis. Texting, online dating, social media and other aspects of our virtual existence are in many ways taking people further away from direct engagement with one another.

In the midst of this pandemic, I cannot run the risk of contracting the virus and then transmitting it to others. My challenge now is to adapt to the changing world at this time and going forward while still operating from a place of integrity.

I have been giving a lot of thought to what I could be doing during this Covid-19 episode to make the best use of my time. I’m wondering what steps I can be taking on a daily basis to achieve my goals and fulfill my life purpose here on Earth.

I have been spending a lot more time writing, filming, building web pages, creating email sequences and working on an online course. I find the more technical aspects of this whole process to be especially challenging. There have been times in the past when I felt so overwhelmed by too having to figure out and remember so much complicated technology that I just walked away.

What makes it even worse is the headaches of having to deal with tech support. I have to rely upon email or chat to get my questions answered. The instructions being given are not always clear and sometimes the support techs drop the ball, and so I have to email again. Being that I’m paying them all that money, they damn well better be answering my questions!

I much rather speak to another human being who will in real time spell out each specific step in the process. Having another person verbally lead me through each step of the process makes these complicated tasks so much simpler and easier. Unfortunately, many of these companies are only providing email or chat support to save money.

Despite the frustration, I’m very cognizant of the fact that I have to build the various components of my online business. Some of the primary thoughts occupying my mind at this time are “What is it that I need to be doing here?” “What tasks do I need to be working on and getting completed?”

I am being very methodical by deciding on a daily basis what tasks I need to be attending to. I take on one, two or three projects at a time and stay with each project until it gets done. And despite the frustration, I have learned and accomplished quite a lot during this time.

We all need to be taking constructive action to address the issues that need to be dealt with and doing the important work that needs to be accomplished. Many of us obfuscate or distract ourselves. We put the important tasks off.

Facing the issues head on and following through with the actions we need to be taking and the tasks that need to be completed is a critically important part of becoming the more highly functional and realized versions of ourselves.

We all need to be asking ourselves questions like “What is it that I need to be doing and what steps do I need to be taking right now to make this happen?” It is critically important for us to follow through with constructive action once we get a clear sense of the steps we need to be taking. We need to be thorough, accomplish our objectives and to do so to the best of our ability. Following this model increases our competency and expands our range of motion.

Self-care

The practices utilized by Indian yogis and Buddhist monks are incredibly foreign to the vast majority of people living in our modern-day tech-infused world. And yet there’s so much we can learn from the examples the monks and yogis have provided for us in the ways they lived and their daily practices. It was a fairly common practice for monks and yogis to seclude themselves in the mountains and jungles for extended periods of time.

Some lived in caves during these periods of seclusion. They typically spent their days doing many hours of yogic and other forms of intensive meditation practice. Many developed extraordinarily powerful gifts of healing and other kinds of spiritual powers. Some possessed paranormal abilities.

I have for some time now been working and commuting extraordinarily long hours. I sometimes felt frustrated feeling that I didn’t have enough time to devote to the intensive daily practice that is such an important part of my own self-care and continuing development. My whole reality has changed now that we’re in the midst of this pandemic. I now have all this additional time on my hands. I’m also fairly isolated here in northern Idaho.

Since coming down from the mountain at the end of March, I have been doing at least three hours of intensive daily meditation practice. I’m also doing at least an hour of chi gong and other martial arts training.

These extended periods of daily meditation are in many ways comparable to doing some form of intensive cleansing such as a water or juice fast. Physical, mental and emotional toxins are being purged from my body. I can feel my internal organs and systems becoming more vital and function at a higher level as a result of this cleansing process. I’m feeling more resilient, alert and aware.

Sitting in meditation for such extended periods of time can be extraordinarily difficult for many. I have purposefully used this time to break through much of my own internal resistance to being fully present. I can literally feel myself moving through layers of armor and crossing thresholds into deeper levels of awareness.

Many of us have so numbed ourselves. We’ve built up all these layers of armor and have accumulated a backlog of stagnant emotion in our bodies. The things that have caused us to feel anxious and afraid, that have hurt and traumatized or stressed us out are still living on the inside of us.

Sitting in meditation for these extended periods of time facilitates a much deeper level of processing. Undigested impressions of life experiences and emotional responses that have been held within my own body – mind continue to make their way to the surface. Breathing softly and deeply while fully immersing my awareness within these impressions, feelings and bodily sensations that are presenting themselves is activating my body – mind’s innate healing capabilities. I can feel myself digesting a long history of life experiences along with any relevant emotional content.

As my awareness increases, I find it easier to see through my own dysfunctional patterns and to recognize the changes I need to be making. I’m also feeling more motivated to take constructive action and can feel that I have greater access to the resources I need to make the necessary changes. The inner core of my being is also feeling more palpable. I can feel this presence at various times of the day emanating from within.

Getting back out on the Earth

Those of us who are currently residing in areas with open space can go out to walk, hike or run. Getting out into open spaces helps us to destress by relaxing our bodies. It also gives us a chance to reflect and connect with the Earth.

There’s a mountain range that begins two blocks in front of where I’m riding the pandemic out in northern Idaho that extends all the way to the Montana border. I have been hiking the trails since I’ve been here and have hiked all the way to the top of one of the highest nearby mountains.

Food insecurity

Food insecurity is a serious concern for many. There have been numerous instances of farmers plowing their crops under because they had no way to sell and distribute the produce. Millions of pigs and chickens are being killed as the meat processing plants across the country are shutting down. All of these pigs and chickens are living beings. They have feelings and experience emotions such as fear. They also experience physical pain. But they are sadly just another commodity to be exploited and, in this case, disposed of. There is absolutely no regard for their suffering or wellbeing.

People all across the country are now lining up at food distribution centers, often waiting for hours on end for whatever handouts they can get. And many are now going hungry.

Food insecurity has been an issue in many parts of the world. I have sometimes found it difficult to comprehend food shortages in some parts of the world. Having spent considerable amounts of time in both India and Sri Lanka, I cannot help but notice the huge amounts of available land that could easily be used for planting vegetables and fruit trees.

We need to be thinking practically. I once gave thirteen fruit trees to one of my Sri Lankan friends as a wedding present. He and his family now have fruit all year around. My friend later told me that the fruit trees I had gifted him were the best of all the wedding presents he and his wife had received.

Our growing season tends to be much shorter in the northern hemisphere. The length of our growing season also depends on how far north we’re living from the equator. Those of us who have access to even small patches of land can easily be making use of the opportunity to grow our own food provided by the warmer summer weather. We can even dry excess produce like tomatoes with a food dehydrator to save for a later time.

I doubt that this pandemic will end any time soon unless there are some major medical breakthroughs. Assuming that I will be here for a while, I bought plants and then ordered seeds for tomato, chili peppers, chard, cucumbers and squash.

So many of us have been eating the garbage processed foods we order from fast food places or that we’ve bought from supermarkets. These foods are loaded with all kinds of artificial ingredients, residues of pesticides and synthetic fertilizers. Non-organic beef, pork and poultry contains growth hormones and antibiotics.

Gardening gives you the opportunity to take part in the production of your own food. It can save you much of the money that you would be paying for food in restaurants and at the supermarket. The food you grow will most likely have a higher nutritional value.

Getting your hands in the dirt and nurturing living beings in the form of plants has tremendous therapeutic value in that it’s very calming and grounding. It also helps to deepen your connection to the Earth.

A time of reorganization

So many of us spent much of our adolescence playing games, texting and hanging out with friends because there were so few options available to us. We ended up wasting a lot of time because we didn’t know what else we could be doing.

We now have so many forms of digital distraction to lose ourselves in. We can easily spend multiple hours a day staring into the idiot tube, watching videos on YouTube, gaming or/and scrolling through our social media feeds. If we were to add all those hours up at the end of our lives, we would have lost months or more likely years of our lives.

I’m guilty of getting sucked in by the never ending 24/7 news cycle, but then I quickly realize how much time I’m losing and set the phone down and go do something more productive. Much of my news consumption has to do with my own concerns about the tremendous harm that is being done. I feel concerned for migrant families desperately struggling to survive in their attempt to reach the United States that are being ripped apart. Many of the children that have been separated will never be reunited with their parents again. I feel concerned about the destruction of the Amazon and the murder of the indigenous peoples attempting to defend their homelands. I’m also feeling tremendous concern about the destruction of native lands in Arizona to build an idiotic border wall. It’s also alarming to see the democratic institutions of our nation being dismantled.

I find the anti-immigrant sentiment especially ironic considering that the United States was invaded by Europeans who brought disease such as smallpox, measles and cholera that wiped out a large percentage of the Native American population. Our United States Government then sent its armies to kill those who were not decimated by the diseases. The vast majority of ancestral native lands were then stolen. Europeans and people of European descent introduced the native people to the drug of alcohol. Christian missionaries then told the native people that their spiritual traditions were of the devil and that their suffering was a punishment from God. Native children were in many instances taken from their parents and sent away for indefinite periods of time to boarding schools where they were made to be ashamed of their heritage.

The country we’re now living in and the society we’re a part of and many others around the world are in serious need of a reset. Housing has become unaffordable in cities like New York, Boston, San Francisco and Los Angeles. A college education or medical crisis is leaving many of us tens and even hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt.

Many people in the United States do not seek medical care because they cannot afford it. Many of those who died of Covid-19 that may have survived had they received treatment could not even get tested.

My hope is that the multiple crises we’re facing will wake people up enough to vote out of office those in positions of power who are only there for their own personal gain and that of the wealthy self-serving corporate donors funding their reelection campaigns. My desire is to see more leaders elected who will demonstrate genuine concern for and work to address the basic human needs of their constituents when it comes to health care, housing, education and other important issues that have a huge impact upon our overall wellbeing and quality of life.

Rampant consumption

Many of us have been taking part in the hugely destructive ritualistic cycle of rampant consumption that has become so endemic in our modern-day culture. Like a crystal meth addict, we’re flying headlong into unmitigated disaster.

We’re extracting enormous amounts of the Earth’s natural resources to manufacture all the smartphones, tablets, Fitbits, cars, clothing and other products we’re compulsively buying. After using these products for a short time, we’re throwing them away and then going out to buy more. Our insatiable hunger for material wealth arises from the horribly empty void within that many of us are attempting to numb ourselves to.

The massive amount of waste that we’ve been generating is creating enormous problems for the planet and the portions of the human and wildlife population living in the more heavily polluted areas. We’re also running out of space to put all the waste we’re generating.

Now that many of us have less money to burn, we’re not buying as many smartphones and cars, pairs of shoes, clothing that we wear for a season and then toss and other non-essential items.

Rather than congesting the roadways with our cars as we have for quite some time, many of us have been and possibly still are staying home. Since we’re not driving as much, we are not producing as much CO2 and other pollutants. Factories that are not working at capacity to produce all the consumer goods that we’ve been buying are not spewing as much pollution into the air or dumping as much toxic waste into landfills or into waterways and oceans.

The decreases in production of material goods and burning of fossil fuels has resulted in a dramatic reduction of pollution. The haze over parts of China that could be seen from space has cleared up. Residents of New Delhi in Northern India were suffering from all kinds of respiratory disorders and other serious health-related issues because of the cloud of toxic pollutants blanketing the city.

As a result of the lockdown, residents of Delhi could for the first time in decades see the Himalayan Mountains. Nature has also been making a comeback. Coyotes, kangaroos, deer and other wildlife are showing up in urban areas. Bears and birds that have not been seen in decades are now showing up in the wild.

The economy we’ve created and the lifestyle so many of us are living are largely based on consumption of material goods and resources. Our economies are designed to perpetuate this cycle of insatiable consumption. This cycle of consumption has to be perpetuated so that the corporations that manufacture the products we buy can continue to increase their revenues and so people like us can earn enough money to maintain our cycle of consumption and afford to live in this economy.

What so many of us fail to grasp is that we’re doing all this consumption at the expense of our planet and the up and coming generations. The younger generations and those born from this time on will pay an enormous price, possibly suffering tremendous hardships and more frequent global warming related extreme weather as a result of our excesses. We as a human race, other species and the Earth itself cannot sustain this rate of consumption for much longer.

The Covid-19 pandemic is creating enormous financial hardship for many. But it is also working for our advantage to the extent that it has and may continue to slow our destructive cycle of consumption.

So many of us have been (and still are) largely unconscious because we have gone through so much of our lives without ever really taking the time to examine ourselves and our way of life. We need to be examining our thoughts, feelings and our habitual behaviors. Serious changes have to be made if we as a human race, other species and the planet are to survive.

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