A New Reality – Seeing Ourselves as Human Beings First and Last
Restrictions connected with the coronavirus may be easing in many countries, but it will be a while before they disappear completely. It is time to think about how we can best adapt to our new reality – and also to consider if we want to go back fully to the old reality, if and when we can.
So, are there some things we might WANT to change about the way we have lived so far – even when we are not forced to do so? The threat posed by this deadly global pandemic has brought much hardship to us; hundreds of thousands of people have succumbed to virus and their families continue to suffer. Millions have been infected and very large number of them also continue to suffer.
For the rest of us, the hardship – so far – has been less severe. And the virus has also brought us an opportunity – to press the pause button on our lives and reflect on relationships – with ourselves, our families, our work and our planet.
A Connected Humanity – for better or for worse
Let us start with ourselves. If there is anything the virus has taught us, it is that we are all connected. All of humanity is connected. In a few short months the virus has spread – through this human connectedness – to the whole world. It may have originated in an animal – but it has spread through the connectedness of human beings.
So let us understand this clearly – we are all connected. Now we have the option of using this information in good ways, through conscious choice, for the benefit of humanity. Or not. Even today, some people refuse to understand this basic fact. They continue to divide their societies by skin colour, or race, or religion, or social status. It’s time to wake up and understand that our essence is human – whatever the outer covering or the socio-economic situation.
So, now and in the future, let us work towards acceptance of one another. Let us stop “othering” people who seem – on the surface – to be different from us. At this time, when we are all in trouble, let us help one another in any way we can. Help others – and, if you need support yourself, be willing to accept that from others.
Let us strengthen our existing connections too. Human beings are social animals – they need social contact. If you are still unable to meet relatives and friends, do voice or video calls with them. Go beyond WhatsApp messages and Facebook updates to stronger and more personal voice and video connections.
We also need to look after ourselves – the threat of this virus has forced us to change the way we do that. It has also pushed us to THINK about how well we look after ourselves. Most of us have at least focused on how to maintain our physical fitness, especially in lockdown or near-lockdown. What about mental and spiritual wellbeing? Are you happy? Peaceful? Are your spirits high, or at least on an even keel?
It is time to strengthen this part of our relationship with our own self. Look after our physical, mental and spiritual health. Keep our spirits up. Walk more, even if it is in your own home or garden. Work out or do yoga. Keep your mind at peace by making conscious choices in areas of life that are still under your control – and learning to accept what is outside your control.
Serenity in Troubled Times
This is a very good time to remember the Serenity Prayer, composed by Reinhold Niebuhr:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.
Look for something to help you find that serenity, courage and wisdom. I believe the shortest route to inner peace and serenity is regular meditation (or mindfulness practice).
A daily practice of even just 15 minutes of meditation is extremely useful in these otherwise possibly fretful times. If you happen to be a healer, add another 15 minutes of that practice too. For myself, of course, that means Reiki healing, but any other healing practice will help too.
Expanding the Spirit
Calm your spirit with meditation and self-healing – and expand it by helping others in some way. Compassion and kindness is very good for the human soul. Help those who are in worse trouble than you. In Singapore, where I live, that might be the migrant workers stuck in their dorms. You could cook a meal for them, or donate something they need – or simply donate money to an NGO that is helping them.
I think it’s important to help people wherever we live, in our own community. But it’s important to also help some of the worst affected people – wherever they may be in the world. At this point in time, both these principles are important, even for our own mental and spiritual well-being. Knowing that we are all connected, wherever we live, whatever the colour of skin, it is only logical that we should extend our help as far and wide as we can, to our fellow humans anywhere in the world.
In a different way, you can also help, and be helped by, the members of your own family and your own household. Once again, the virus has shown us how important it is to nurture these relationships. I will talk about this in more detail in my next blog. For now, let me just leave you with this thought: value and nourish yourself, your family and your community. Because these relationships may well turn out to be the most important ones in your life.