The novel coronavirus outbreak has left me feeling afraid and helpless. I’ve lost sleep, worrying and wondering about what might happen to me and my family if we contract Covid-19. If we don’t, what can we do to help the situation? Volunteering to help sick people isn’t possible, and donating money won’t slow the spread of the virus.
In the midst of my worry, I sat down, put my hand on my heart, took a few deep breaths, and used mindfulness to calm my racing thoughts. I realized this terrible situation our world is in serves as a profound opportunity to recognize and honor our interdependence. We have a deep connection to all beings, and now is the perfect time to practice love for them.
Together we can create the conditions for everyone to be healthy and safe.
Practicing love requires that we stop thinking only about our own wellbeing and consider how our actions impact everyone. Paradoxically, it means the most important thing we ourselves can do is to stay well. Maintaining our own good health will put less stress on the healthcare system and free up resources to help those who are sick and need care. It will also prevent the spread of the illness to those who are at higher risk to die from complications of Covid-19.
Practicing love in a pandemic means being patient with our own fears and hopes, as well as those who may seem unreasonably scared or angry. We can be mindful and careful with our words and refrain from harsh communication to create less panic and divisiveness. This will help our society come together and make this difficult time as easy as possible. We can listen to our leaders, supporting those who are competent, compassionate, and effective in safeguarding citizens from the virus and the resulting economic strain.
Everyone deserves to be healthy and free from sickness. This includes you, your family, friends, strangers, and even the people you hate. I encourage you to take a break for a few minutes each hour, and do this brief metta practice to develop your good heart and steady mind:
1. Put your hand on your heart and take a few deep breaths.
2. For a few minutes, silently repeat to yourself: May I be safe and healthy and free from fear.
3. Next, consider someone you know in the medical community — your family doctor, a friend who is an EMT, a nurse, social worker, or public health official. Offer the phrases to this person for a few minutes: May you be safe and healthy and free from fear.
4. Finally, consider all beings everywhere, and offer them the phrases: May we be safe and healthy and free from fear.
As I practice love during this pandemic, I feel less and less helplessness and more connection to myself and the world. If we all use this time to strengthen our love and good hearts, we can approach this devastating situation with skillful action and deep wisdom. Together we can create the conditions for everyone to be healthy and safe. May we respect and honor our interdependence. May it be so.