For those feeling overwhelmed (hint: it’s all of us), the wrong thing to do is to impose our will on the world. The best thing to do is to find what’s certain in our lives.
For those feeling overwhelmed (hint: it’s all of us), the wrong thing to do is to impose our will on the world.
You see a lot of this happening on talk shows, on the news, social media, and elsewhere.
Everyone is trying to guess what is going to happen next, what the worse case scenario is going to be. We share that kind of material with others.
Except all of it is just manufactured. Everyone is just guessing.
And the most outrageous, apocalyptic the prediction, the more attention they will get.
There is a thick line that separates being informed and being obsessed.
The fact is simple: We all know what we need to do. We need to
- maintain social distance.
- Not hoard food and supplies (there is no real shortage as long as people don’t hoard) and work as best as they can.
Even on the economic front, there is hope with a bill that will give each adult in the US $1,200 and $500 per child.
In such times, the best thing to do is to find what’s certain in our lives.
What I’m leaning into
I wanted to share a few areas of my life that I am certain about that gives me hope and has significantly helped me reduce my stress. It has helped me deal with this situation, and find ways to help others (something I hope to share next week…I’m very excited about it!)
If you have your health, that is a blessing. If you have some wealth (savings), that is a blessing. If you have people around you that love you, that is another blessing.
If you look, you will find many areas in your life that you can grateful for.
It is tempting to look at all the things that are changing in times of uncertainty. It is much more useful to look at all the things that haven’t changed.
This doesn’t mean ignoring the lack, but you can address the lack a lot better if you can be grounded in what you have first.
The world is good
Gratitude helps and it seems into something that my faith and my guru have taught me that there is a higher power, and that this higher power is not my enemy, that whatever will happen will be for the best.
This idea has always been a source of tremendous strength to me throughout my life. Even in times of lack, in times of helplessness and desperation, I have tried to revive this thought.
The positive expectancy from this thought has helped me bounce back from any adversity.
If you have things that are lacking in life, thinking about the lesson, the gift, the blessing found within this situation can be very good.
Reflection and Faith
Ever since I was a child, I was taught by my guru to start off the day with a powerful meditation and prayers.
In this meditation, I reflect on the fact that I am not this body, and I am not this mind that I believe to be me. I am not Dhawal Tank. I am not my identity. I am not this person who was born in 1989, has had so many experiences, has all these relatives, has all these accomplishments and failures. I am not this situation, and I am not these emotions. I am not this intelligence, or my academic qualifications.
I am that which empowers and inhabits this body and mind. I am the eternal consciousness that has been through countless such bodies and minds. it is indeed the light of my consciousness that enables the mind and body to think, feel, move, and act. My source of misery, of being shaken in trying times (and getting too comfortable and egoistic during the good times) has been my false identification with the body and mind.
Instead, identify with this eternal self. The soul. The atma.
This insight is extremely freeing. It reminds me that death is certain at some point or another. This is not a painful thought. Death is only of the body and the mind, not of who I am, who is eternal and conscious.
And within my soul resides a higher power.
You may call this God, the universe, a higher power, Bhagwan, or anything else.
During my morning meditation and prayers, I solidify my faith in this higher power, and remind myself that I am being looked after, that my thoughts and prayers are being heard and being answered.
It is unfortunate that faith has become such a private and taboo thing that we don’t talk about publicly.
In my experience with senior leaders at major organizations, the majority of them rely on some form of faith and prayer to ground them and guide them through tough times.
This is a time to be public about it. Not to proselytize (something that is not promoted in my faith), but to make it normal and okay to do this and give others as well a chance to rely on this essential source of strength.
A rise in consciousness
People are waking up and realizing that their choices matter. Their consumption choices are directly related to the emergence of pandemics, climate change, and suffering.
That no choice is truly “personal.” Each choice creates demand for more of it.
It was humans encroaching into more land, trading live animals, that created the conditions where this pandemic spread.
In fact, the worst epidemics in recent history have all been related to humans consuming animals in some capacity or another and the animal agriculture and trade related to it.
Since the 1918 avian H1N1 bird flu, every pandemic has originated from animals.
In fact, the number one cause of deforestation is to clear space to raise animals for milk and meat. When forests are cleared, wild animals, often the vectors of disease end up crossing species and affecting us.
Over-fishing has similar affects.
Animal agriculture around the world is so outsized and concentrated, breeding grounds for the next pandemic exist wherever animal agriculture exists.
This is not just a Chinese problem. In fact, the H1N1 Swine flu originated in America.
And if CoVID-19 has affected us all so severely, imagine a world where antibiotics stop working! At the rate which we feed animals antibiotics in the world, we are setting ourselves up for the emergence of superbugs for which no antibiotics work.
This means a world where even routine surgeries, UTIs, and other diseases considered cured can kill us. This is not a work of fiction, but one of the World Health Organization’s top priorities beyond this ongoing pandemic.
It is becoming increasingly clear that our demand for animal products has led to this state of affairs.
There is no alternative but for all of us to abandon animal products and switch to plant based lifestyles that significantly reduced negative externalities.
(Before the sleuths here say what about e.coli in lettuce, you should know that this bacteria was transferred onto the lettuce from infected animal manure used as fertilizer).
People are waking up to this fact, and I believe this rise in consciousness is great. We are likely to see a more vegan world in the future. Of course being vegan will not only significantly reduce the emergence of such pandemics (plants and humans are just too different as species), but will increase overall health markers in us meaning less heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, etc. Of course the tremendous reduction in animal suffering is the cherry on top as they won’t be bred in the first place as demand falls.
I think this is a very positive development. People are already stocking up on beans, pasta, rice, bread, corn, potatoes, and other staples that they would eat as vegans. Many of them will find their health improving as well.
Now more than ever, being vegan is the most impactful thing you can do for your health, the health of the planet, and to reduce suffering.
I hope these ideas are helpful to you. If nothing else, it is a way for me to express that I am doing okay and I hope are as well. But if not, do reach out to me, even if it is just to talk!