There is a group I meet with, which gathers weekly to deepen our practice around compassion and mindfulness.
Often, we open sessions by going around the circle and stating one word that captures the essence of the preceding week.
My word for this week would be “tested.”
It is relatively easy to extol kindness, self-compassion, understanding, and common humanity as virtues, but it is much more difficult to put them into practice – even under normal circumstances. And recent circumstances are certainly not normal.
The rapid spread of COVID-19 and the attendant confusion it brings are difficult to navigate.
Worry, fear, and anxiety are natural responses to the current situation. These feelings can be overwhelming. Never has there been a better time to practise mindfulness, self-compassion, and loving-kindness.
Following the recent announcements by government health officials to restrict public gatherings and practise social distancing, I posted a blog offering 10 Ways to Cope Compassionately with COVID-19.
You can read the post for yourself. In it, I recommend a few simple and mindful activities to help us cope during troubling times.
It is challenging to limit our intake of news and resist the urge to compulsively check social media newsfeeds, but be wary of information overload.
The scope and scale of information (and misinformation) is mind numbing.
Scrolling social media feeds is distracting, but it is not a panacea for loneliness, nor does it replace genuine connection with other human beings – whether via digital means or in-person.
While we are limiting our social contact and maintaining physical distance, we must still make real emotional connections with each other.
This can be done the old-fashioned way, by simply picking up the telephone and calling someone, or by democratizing digital tools such as Zoom, Skype, FaceTime, and Messenger video.
We will find ourselves with unexpected time on our hands.
Instead of agitatedly scrolling feeds, why not use the time to teach someone less savvy how to use these powerful communication tools purposefully?
This week my social circle created a digital birthday party for a friend who turned 60.
We weren’t all equally comfortable with using the video platform, but we helped each other, and made sure everyone got online.
I recently introduced my 80-year-old mama to Facetime. She’s in the high-risk category and as a family, we are naturally protective. Learning to use FaceTime enables her to see us face-to-face and is helping us cope with less physical contact.
Beyond being a salve for boredom or a form of escape, social media and the other digital tools at our disposal can be used to support others and extend our connections, as long as we practise inclusivity. There are many who see this crisis as an opportunity to reignite community offering help and support to friends and neighbours.
Others are resisting the circumstances, struggling to accept a new normal.
COVID-19 is definitely testing us as a human family.
We are being tested to choose calm and reason over panic, love over fear, and reflection over resistance.
In all cases we can offer compassionate awareness and kindness.
We are being tested, and we it’s one we can pass together.
Vicki McLeod is an author, TEDx speaker, and award-winning entrepreneur. She is a business and personal coach and consultant. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram or find her at www.vickimcleod.com. This article was first published in the Maple Ridge News.