Thursday, July 16, 2020

The Covid-Blues: sometimes it's not good to be happy

July 15, 2020, many schools in Maryland and DC announced a virtual learning year in 2020-2021 for  children. Major companies have extended  work from home for months. As if to compound the misery and anxiety, someone decided it was news (it is not, its been known for years) that squirrels carry bubonic plague. The news can't seem to get enough of people pulling out guns when asked to wear masks.  And it goes on and on.  It is overwhelming, anxiety provoking, gut wrenching. If you seep yourself in the news, it will steal your peace of mind, your sleep, and your well-being. You have probably already experienced this, and found ways to modify your diet of news.

At the same time, there is good news. A cure for COVID-19 may be in the works may be in our future, and maybe even a vaccine. You probably hear this news with caution. Perhaps you allow yourself to believe a cure and vaccine will come true,  and start to feel a little choked up. But then you probably reel yourself in.Then perhaps a flood of conflicting feelings comes up. In a way, you don't want things to go back to normal, but you do want the pandemic to end.

There have been silver linings to the pandemic. Life slowing down. Less traffic and no commutes - at least for most of us. A time to pause and reflect - even a time of retreat. A time to reconnect (virtually) with loved ones, and with oneself. A healing of the planet, with the air clearing and night skies sparkling like they have not for decades in cities, and the birds having a ball this spring. Pet shelters have emptied and puppies are filling the streets, happy to go on walks with their new human parents.

Sometimes it's not appropriate to be happy. But that does not mean you can't feel happy. There is so much to grieve about the pandemic. There is also a lot to learn.

What if we took this time to really focus on how we are feeling and to allow for feelings in their moment. Feelings make themselves known by how they come up in the body. You probably feel anxiety in your belly and chest - a racing heart, breathlessness, and tight stomach. Maybe a stomach ache. You probably feel sadness in your heart - that heart break feeling. A feeling of hope probably fills you with warmth in your chest, and a feeling of not wanting to lose something may appear with a pull in the muscles of your arms to reach out. The happiness you feel about reconnecting with loved ones may be in the belly connection to the earth, and if you got a pet, your love for the little one may fill your entire body with a tingling live feeling.

Feelings can be hard to discern, because the mind gets really active. The mind can try to explain, control, suppress or change a feeling. It can try, but never really succeed because feelings are truths in themselves. While feelings are ephemeral and do not define who or what a person or situation is,  they do define what they are and do not go away when the mind tells them to. Instead they go underground inside you, which often leaves the body with a feeling of numbness or disconnection.

We are complex. Feelings can be conflicting, which makes feelings even more confusing. You can feel anxiety and hope, love and dread, heart broken and calm, or any other combination. This can make it even harder to accept and learn from feelings.  Yet, feelings have a lot to teach us. A way to learn from feelings is to first accept and allow the truth of what they are in you, without having to change or act on them.

This is hard work. But it may be the most powerful way to get through this time, right now, when there is so little we have control over beyond our own actions.

So here is a thought. What if we are each of us a part of the expression of the universe, and what if how we expressed ourselves made a difference - even if we do not see it in the moment.  Then wouldn't we choose a universe that accepts all with love and acts in wisdom out of love, and so do this for ourselves?  Wouldn't we to aspire to love and accept the feeling that is arising right now, and in the next moment, and in the next? 

Maybe this is one small way we can find happiness amidst all this hardship, and maybe one way to fortify ourselves for the actions we take to help ourselves and others with all the heartbreak.

-- Laura Musikanski, Happiness Alliance