2019 was quite a year for me—my husband of 30 years committed suicide, and I found new love in a marriage to my soulmate.
It was a stressful time, and yet, through all the changes and challenges of finding my life restructured in a major way, I found peace and a deeper spiritual connection.
I assumed that 2020 would be more uneventful, but it has, instead, brought another completely unexpected event in the form of a global pandemic.
Experiencing firsthand that the routine of our “normal” lives can be disrupted at any moment is a potent reminder of the precariousness of life. We can perceive this reminder as a negative thing and try to run away from it, or we can embrace it as a messenger that can help us to forge a deeper connection to “who we truly are” beyond our limited human form in a way that we often cannot when our lives are going smoothly.
But how can we do this when there is so much to feel stressed about?
The most important thing we can do is to connect with our true essence that is untouched by whatever is happening. This true essence is the “aware presence” that is right here, noticing these words being read. It isn’t something far away that only special people can access—it is what is present and aware right now as our truest self.
At first, this awareness might seem rather empty, a place to retreat to simply to avoid our problems. But the more time we spend exploring it, the more we can sense a subtle peace and happiness that are not affected by our external circumstances.
The more often we can bring this presence into our daily lives, the more peace we will feel, and the more we will begin to trust its inherent intelligence and creativity to guide us far better than our worrying mind ever could.
The steps for doing this are simple, but implementing them takes a real willingness to turn loose our identification with our thoughts and trust something deeper.
1. Whenever we are feeling stressed, we can pause and take a few deep breaths.
2. We can bring our attention to the “spacious awareness”—that is to witness our stressful thoughts and feelings.
3. We can see that the thoughts and feelings are happening in this space and that they come and go, while the “spacious awareness” is always here.
4. Once we consciously connect with this awareness, we can take some time to really appreciate it before rushing back to our activities.
5. Try it now—take a few moments to just pause and be.
We can take such a pause several times a day, even if just for a few minutes, using our anxiety level as a signal for when we need to do this. In fact, the more often we can do this, the better. Even if we have a regular daily meditation practice, we can get caught up in stress and worry throughout the day and forget the peace that can be accessed right now.
I discovered, too, throughout the past year that stress and worry don’t help or change anything—they just drain our energy so we are less prepared to deal with what life throws at us. Living our life from a more peaceful place benefits our immune system, improves our sleep, and simply feels so much better than being caught up in worry.
The more we can consciously understand and feel the difference between these two states of peace and stress, the more willingness we can have to trust who we truly are even more deeply and live our lives from here more and more often.
However, living from this trust doesn’t mean that we go into crowded public places, touching everything, and then wiping our eyes with our hands. Of course, we take precautions.
My husband and I are staying at home as much as possible and connecting with friends and family via virtual meetings. We each carry a hand sanitizing spray with us so we can wipe down grocery store carts and clean our hands whenever we feel it is necessary.
And we relax and enjoy playing with our dog, watching uplifting movies, meditating, and sharing the possibility of living life from a place of deeper connection to the peace, love, and joy that is our true self.