“The last thing that can help the non-right-minded, or the sick, is an increase in fear.” - A Course in Miracles
Most of my coronavirus conversations begin with a focus on what to do. In this writing I’d like to turn our attention instead on who we are. Essentially, how can we respond to lower fear in ourselves and others (rather than increase it)?
This is my invitation to identify more fully as the self-awareness which chooses how to respond to the events of the world. Doing so transforms crisis into an opportunity for a deeper spiritual engagement with life, letting whatever our reactions are be material for the alchemy of self-work.
This can fully include washing our hands, not touching our face, and practicing “social distancing.”
And this invitation into awareness and embrace points to the unnamable heart of Circling, and to the heart of living a good life.
I’d like to suggest that we get a choice between suffering or peace. Suffering because we’re afraid or peace because we’re willing to love our fate.
This has nothing to do with what’s happening in the world, or the actions we take to respond. It’s about love or fear (fear: a call for love, seen from the eyes of love). What this means for me: finding gratitude for the unimaginable miracle of existing at all; appreciating hardships as part of my life’s curriculum that grow me and show me my character; noticing and releasing my resistance to truth—especially truth that humbles me, reminds me of my limitations and my grasping for control, and asks instead for a deeper self-trust with a deeper letting go.
Here’s what it might look like re coronavirus:
Handwashing—self-massage? Contemplation on the availability of soap before the 19th century? Gratitude for modern sewage and the humans that got us here?
Not hugging—as expressing your commitment to connection to your larger community, old and young. What new creative greetings can we dream up?
That itch on your face? Stay with the level of sensation… can you do it? Not touch your face? What is it that has you habitually move?
If your intuition is to not follow some of the social suggested restrictions, is it an act of love or opposition? Hosting an event from a place of love and transmitting with humility a trust in humanity, grateful to face whatever happens as a result? Going to care for a neighbor or friend who is sick?
Here’s a claim: once we’ve chosen to inhabit a new self that shows up differently in the out there, the out there can’t help but respond newly to how we show up. It’s a feedback loop.
And if we get unconsciously reactive/afraid anyway, we can move more quickly to being intimate with our reactivity—knowing that true intimacy requires separateness.
(eg: There's not much intimacy in merging with your fear, because there's no consciousness. There's not much in repressing because it's denying experience. There's more intimacy in witnessing fear, but it's easy to disassociate from our humanity and incarnation when only witnessing. What we're suggesting is that intimacy is a relationship, so it requires two separate entities, but that these entities must be in real contact with each other. In this case the entities are your awareness and your experience of fear, and we're saying a deeper relationship between them keeps them separate, unique but in full contact.)
“The pillars of the temple stand apart,” says Gibran; if we want to be intimate with ourselves, we must have enough distance from our ourselves to be in relationship with ourselves and gaze at our experience with wonder.
Similarly staying home or someone else staying away from you can deepen a relationship by growing it to include more distance, more trust in the long-term connection, and more space for the solitude.
If you’ve ever experienced a shifting from fear to love, you may agree that the attitude is far more infectious than a coronavirus. It’s why we love being around someone who genuinely smiles and laughs often. We can’t help but “catch” the feeling of well-being and gratitude for life.
So we’re going to stay close with how this is unfolding. Every night at the Austin Circling Studio we’ve been disinfecting stuff people touch (doorknobs, lightswitches, etc). We’re likely to postpone and reschedule some of our in-person events in cities where (and when) social distancing can make a big impact on exponential growth. And we’ll do all this with love.
Whatever happens, we have awesome online Circling offerings, with multiple sessions a day on CircleAnywhere and some other amazing upcoming online events. We’re listening and letting the unfolding of events spark creative responses to whatever the eventuality of the virus brings. May you do the same.
Jordan (and the CE team)
"That day when I stepped out of prison and looked at the people observing, a flush of anger hit me with the thought that they had robbed me of 27 years. Then the Spirit of Jesus said to me, ‘Nelson, while you were in prison you were free, now that you are free don’t become a prisoner.’”
- Nelson Mandela
So when you’re considering whether or not to work from home, or not go to the gym, or go to an online CircleAnywhere session instead of going to an in-person event—consider how you’re considering this choice. Here's one way to do so:
Take a moment to rest in the stillness of presence.
Zoom out and see eons of our Earth’s evolution from a billion light years away.
Zoom back in and notice what’s happening as you—are you panicky and short of breath? Disassociated and feeling empty? Assuming the worst, heart racing? The next Circling invitation is to be gentle with yourself, to “be with the other in their world” but let the other be you and your fear, and see innocence even as the foundations of fear’s assumptions are exposed in the light of presence.
Let yourself be surprised by the action that comes—it may look surprisingly similar to what you thought you should do before, but come from a wildly different internal place.
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