My original plan for this post was to write about how people we can’t stand are often our greatest teachers. However, like most plans lately, that was thwarted by the coronavirus. It seems more pertinent to discuss current events. It seems the collective crisis is now becoming one of our greatest teachers.
To begin, I’ll share my personal experience of this pandemic, separated into phases.
Phase 1: I hear about the disease in China and don’t give it a second thought.
Phase 2: A friend informs me that she’s going to self-quarantine for fear of the virus. I think, am I missing something? But no one else is mentioning much about it, so I chalk it up to a first time mama-to-be being overly cautious (sorry, my friend, I will not doubt you again). I carry on with my life as usual.
Phase 3: I hear lots of concern about how rapidly the virus spreads and get news of it reaching the east coast. I begin to grow a bit more concerned. Although, I also hear how it’s only a threat to the elderly and immunocompromised. Feeling confused but see no reason to panic. Continue to carry on.
Phase 4: Find out that it’s in the state, though not in my area. Begin hearing people say they’re stocking up on necessities. A bit more concerned now, I agree that it might be time to do some shopping, but I’m busy (and also lazy) and don’t get around to it right away.
Phase 5: I stop at the grocery store to pick up a prescription and find it mobbed, as if a blizzard is coming. I decide to grab some additional sundries. I slowly wander the aisles wondering what the hell to buy in preparation for an apparent apocalypse.
Phase 6: Talk of quarantines, people panicking, people driving like idiots, events cancelled (for fuck’s sake, will I ever get to see Pearl Jam live?!). Now I’m nervous.
Phase 7: Absorbing too much collective fear. My anxiety is elevated. Holding space for other people’s concerns, trying my best to keep myself regulated. Get home and lose my shit. Make an apocalypse themed playlist and lock myself alone in my room for the night.
Phase 8: Still on edge but calmer than yesterday. Clean my house from top to bottom. It feels good and grounding.
Phase 9: School is cancelled. Everyone I know is social distancing. Pantry is stocked. We’ve got plenty of toilet paper. Making art and breathing.
Phase 10: It’s time to shift perspective away from fear and panic. Decide to record a meditation and write a blog post.
Here are some of the lessons landing for me right now:
Be Here Now. I say it all the time, but I’m even more keenly aware of the benefits than ever. Stay grounded in the present moment. Your mind will want to trip down worry lane. You may begin to panic and stress about the future. You may feel disappointed about things you can’t do or long for the way things were. All of this is unhelpful. Bring your attention to the moment you’re in, address what is right in front of you.
We Are One. We’re all in this together—despite differences in skin color, wealth, nationality or gender. We create division when in truth we are the same. It’s silly and dangerous. Come together, right now.
Cultivate an Abundance Mindset. Did you run to the store and load up on toilet paper? Are you stockpiling first aid supplies? Are you feeling slighted and resentful? If so, you’re operating with a scarcity mindset. Holding onto the idea that there’s not enough to go around, that it’s every man for himself, and maintaining a “me first” attitude only exacerbates fear and anxiety. And it keeps you stuck in a state of lack. The more you believe there’s not enough, the less there is for you. The more you trust in abundance, the more you have. As Abraham Hicks says, “it is law.”
Be a Good Neighbor. Some people really are at risk. They’re safer staying home, away from possible contagion. Check on them. Run to the store for them. Some people have kids who can’t go to school. Parents need a break sometimes. Offer to help. If the guy across the street runs out of toilet paper, give him a roll.
Focus on the Positive. For crying out loud, can you hear me? People are losing their minds. While I agree that this is a situation to take seriously, must we automatically jump to catastrophe? Doing so amplifies fear, growing the very problem we want to minimize. Focus your attention on love, hope, and solutions. To be honest, even if this is the end of the world I’d rather spend my last moments in positivity than dread. It is a choice.
We Need Change. COVID-19 is a fucking wake up call for all humanity. The trajectory we’ve been on for generations is not healthy. Foolishly thinking that we have mastery over mother nature, the flagrant perpetuation of bigotry and ignorance, the shameless propagation of disease, widespread promotion of fear and manipulation, and dangerous degrees of selfishness have all contributed to our present scenario. It’s time to override old school patriarchal ways of being and establish cooperative, loving communities that live in harmony with nature. In the words of Chief Seattle, “Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect.”
This situation is likely to get worse before it gets better. Lives will be lost. Circumstances will change. My sincerest wish is that some good will come from it. May we be reminded of what truly matters in this life. May we learn and grow as individuals and as communities. May we come together and triumph with hope and love.
As I engage with the world through social media, I’m increasingly uplifted by a widespread emphasis on unity. People seem to be looking out for each other and doing their best to stay hopeful. I’ve seen a lot of great advice for how to stay healthy, occupied and connected.
As I go about my business and work with clients, I’m aware that there is A LOT of anxiety swirling through the world. The personal problems we all had before this catastrophe didn’t disappear. For many, their own issues compounded with state of the world, feels terribly overwhelming.
Tips for Managing Overwhelm:
1. Limit consumption of media coverage. Select a reputable source of information and tune out the rest.
2. Practice mindfulness.
3. Process your emotions—talk to someone, write, play/listen to music, exercise, create—do whatever works for you.
4. Accept what is—you may not like it, but this is happening.
5. Be patient—the problem isn’t going to go away over night, but it will end.
6. Create structure—for example, schedule your day, even if you’re trapped at home; organize your pantry; create a budget; designate a work space at home. Structure is grounding.
7. Help—offer resources to those in need. Donate time or money to charitable organizations, buy gift cards from local businesses, pre-pay independent service providers to help them stay afloat, buy groceries for neighbors, deliver meals to people in need, contribute to a book exchange, etc. Helping will give you a sense of purpose and control.
8. Be in love—this moment in time, these circumstances are an undeniable representation of our shared humanity. Draw comfort in that. Care for others. Accept care from others. Love.
Please reach out if you want to connect. I’m here for my family, friends, clients, and others during this time. You’re not alone.
Wishing all a healthy body and mind.
With Love & Compassion,
Adina Arden Cooper
I'm a healer, a guide, a supportive companion. A storyteller, an artist, an ally and an advocate. I help individuals thrive and communities come together through counseling, coaching, and community building. I believe that shared humanity is a powerful strength and that our stories connect us in beautiful and sacred ways. As I stumble, skip, or soar my way through this life, I invite you to join me on the journey. Likewise, I'm honored to travel with you. In witnessing one another, we find meaning.