Photo Credit: Jon Tyson

Navigating the External and Internal elements of uncertain times:

  • Navigating between panic and precaution.
  • Opportunity either for numbing & hysteria OR Reflection and intentional action
  • What influence and responsibility do we have when it comes to our health

The world is in a moment of extreme concern as the coronavirus grows to a global pandemic level.

This crisis can impact us both externally (in the world around us,) and internally (on an emotional and spiritual level).

Many of us live unaware of the distinction between our internal experience and our external experience, living solely governed by the external. We remain unaware that we are gifted with an incredible capacity for self-awareness and self-regulation that can determine how we respond to what we see happening around us. While we do not have control over the external, we can control our response.

Finding space between panic and precaution.
As many are electing “physical distancing” or living in quarantine to curb the spread of the virus, I find myself asking: How do we protect ourselves and our loved ones without being swept up in a panic or lose our humanity? How do we nurture our social selves and support one another in these tough times? How do we honor our social well being?

My answer to these and all questions is always the same: Devote intentional awareness to our internal capacity, return to your relationship with yourself. Reinvest energy and attention to cultivate a true sense of Who You Are so that now and in moments of hardship into the future, you remain grounded and centered.

Deep emotional bonding, intentional and sincere communication are vital for all of us. – Research shows because we are social beings, our wellbeing, mental/psychological, physiological well-being is improved when we are in contact with one another.

So let’s be in contact with one another! Quaran-team! We are fortunate to live in a technological age. On a daily basis reach out to folks you love, speak to them. Hear their voices. See their faces; tell them you love them. Speak meaningfully and deeply with them and nurture the bond. Listen as well.

Panic or Powerful Prayer?

When we are in challenging circumstances we have a physiological fight-flight-freeze response to what we perceive as a threat. We either freak out or numb out. We can acknowledge this response and move through it. With a few deep breaths, we can calm the parasympathetic nervous system and lower our heart rate, the stress hormone cortisol, etc.

With intention, we can also devote attention to our psychological well being as well once the body has calmed. Many of us have strayed and forgotten our capacity to influence our own experience through intentional thought. We are far more capable than we believe; this is an opportunity to return to our capacity and reinvest in our relationship with ourselves, to return to ourselves.

I know the urge to binge Netflix or other numbing experiences. Believe me. I love disconnecting. But in this case, a daily reconnection session with self is essential for maintaining calm and healthy. It can be as little as a few deep breaths, a few minutes of meditation, observing our thoughts or journaling. By attending to our own thoughts and feelings, no matter how uncomfortable or overwhelming they may be we are staying present in our current experience.

Our influence– and responsibility. Our thoughts are powerful influences of our health and if we numb out because the fear feels like too much to bear you are feeding that to your body. Collectively our thoughts and attention have also been proved to have a positive effect, as in the case of the mass meditation in Washington DC where the crime rate during the 24-hour meditation was greatly reduced.

Our communal thoughts have an impact. This is the other way the internal can become external. We have the capacity to stay connected enough and choose to be intentional, not get lost in the hysteria or the numbing.

We are far more powerful in influencing change, either beneficial or damaging than we ordinarily believe. Individually and collectively we have the courage to know ourselves and stand together in this uncertain time. We need to practice influencing how we respond internally and externally.

Author’s Note:
My new book, “How Change Really Happens: Unexpected Tools of Transformation” (available through Amazon: Kindle/ Audible) re-examines our understanding of both external and internal change. It teaches how we can cultivate an internal bond to fortify ourselves for difficult times and circumstances, such as those we face today. It was written to support individuals and communities through change and transformation.