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Seemingly overnight, we have all become global citizens in the COVID-19 era.
A shared sense of grief, nervousness, loss, experience, and community has engulfed us in an unprecedented manner.
We can somehow relate to the experiences of one another now, at a personal level. While this is a period of uncertainty for all, time is calling us to look beyond ourselves and share the world’s resources responsibly and with kindness.
In my own life, I seek to explore how living with compassion can be our guide to living through these extraordinary times.
Here are three ways we can practice compassion in the time of coronavirus:
1. Compassion for self
We may have lost our job, or be managing work and young children, or living far from loved ones, or having to manage our own lives without access to regular care. If so, now is the time to lay out the welcome mat to the practice of being “present.”
Having a regular practice of focusing on our breath and coming back to it—moment by moment—helps us to become focused on the truth of life: the breath.
If we are new to this practice, we may find it difficult to stay focused, especially when there are so many conflicting thoughts in our minds. So it may have to be a deliberate choice to take out some time in our daily schedule to get initiated to the practice. Once we’re able to approach meditation with a rhythm and rigour of discipline, we will find it easier as the days, weeks, and months pass. Like any other new skill, it takes time and practice.
When thoughts and fears cloud our mind, simply acknowledge the presence and try and get the attention back to the breath, over and over, with compassion for self. A mere 10 minutes of regular practice can help us focus on the tasks at hand.
2. Compassion for those around us
If our regular routines are creating dissonance in our lives, that’s probably the case for so many others. Mere acknowledgement and acceptance of this might prepare us to hold those around us with compassion, in our minds and our hearts.
No actions may be necessary. Simply feeling compassion for those living with us, inside the closed doors, will open our hearts to being more accommodating.
If we have young children around us or a stressed-out partner or family member, their vivaciousness or attitude may overwhelm us. When that happens, come back to your breath in that moment of restlessness and watch the breath. By acting with mindfulness, first at a mental level and then with verbal or physical action, we can tackle the issue at hand with clarity and love.
3. Compassion for those we cannot help physically
We may have found ourselves physically separate from our parents, friends, or family members who live in different cities, states, or even countries. How do we help ourselves when our support system is so far away? We must begin with step one and allow the clarity we gain to guide our decision making. Overthinking our current situation or obsessively watching the news are not helpful in these situations.
And how do we help those who are far away? In our regular meditation practice, we must actively wish them well. It’s also important to remember to reach out and genuinely ask how others are doing.
For those who are estranged from those they care about, this may be the right time to consider mending relationships. The ebb and flow in our lives are what teach us impermanence. Beginning again with a loving heart and compassionate intention define us as human beings, so reach for the love inside of you and then actively seek out opportunities to serve others.
Meditation is a critical life skill, and sowing the seeds of the practice help us to navigate our lives more mindfully. Mistakes may occur, and when they do, we will have the strength and humility to apologise and correct ourselves.
May we be well.
May we be free of physical sufferings.
May we be free of mental sufferings.
May we live this life with love and compassion.
“Like it or not, this moment is all we really have to work with.” ~ Jon Kabat Zinn