As the coronavirus has spread, so too have the many stories we tell ourselves about what this moment means. Already there are those who say that this is all a part of Mother Earth’s own wisdom at work telling us that we need to change our ways, or that the virus is here as part of a greater, divine plan of transformation.
I’m not here to challenge those interpretations. There is truth and wisdom in them. But it is important to recognize that they are a narrative, a story of what’s happening. Our minds are very quick to come up with interpretations of what’s happening because we need meaning to give us certainty.
What I have noticed is how quickly people in various spiritual communities on social media are telling themselves these kinds of narratives because they help to dispel fear.
In other words, the rush to see this as a “sacred moment” — a time when we are supposed to push “pause” and “go within” — is in some ways a response that serves to avoid the real value of “pausing” and “going within”: to face ourselves.
By telling ourselves too quickly that the universe is in control here, we can sidestep the uncertainty, the chaos, and the upheaval and tell ourselves, in our own way, it’s all going to be okay.
And that’s true. Even in the most dire moments, if you are connected to your heart center, if you are able to access that inner wisdom, you know that, on a deeper level, it’s all okay. But pause and ask yourself if you’re using that storyline to really say to yourself: you’re going to be okay.
It’s okay if you do! There’s no reason to feel ashamed. And I’m not judging you for it, but asking for you to be radically and brutally honest with yourself. Because it may very well be that you’re not contemplating the possibility that the divine plan might mean that you are no longer part of the picture, that your time will come or your family’s time will come. You’re not facing the uncertainty of the present moment. You’re not facing your own fear of death.
You’re creating a new future out of this story.
Yes, there is a future. Yes, this is a time of wisdom. In fact, every tragedy or crisis carries with it seeds of transformation and growth. But, here’s the rub: You’ll actually miss the wisdom if you’re too quick to ascend into a kind of disembodied rapture instead of facing the fear.
In other words, if you’re clinging to the idea that the world is just going on a kind of forced meditation retreat, you’re not facing reality, just as it is, filled with lots of uncertainty and loss of life. As a result, you’re going to spiritually bypass the true spiritual gift here.
Facing your fear of death is never easy. Most of us don’t face it unless our lives give us an opportunity, often through a health crisis.
On an ayahuasca retreat, I was given the opportunity to face my fear of death. I had 3 nights of experiencing what it was like to lose my loved ones (I was sobbing with tears), lose my capacity for speech, and lose my own sense of self. Everything was taken from me. I felt what it was like to not have an identity, a self, or any kind of agency. On my third night, I would stop breathing for minutes at a time until the ayahuasca said “Breathe” and I could take in another breath. It was harrowing — and liberating. But even with all that, I would never say that my fear of death is entirely gone, but it was definitely reduced.
So the opportunity that this moment presents is, among many things, a chance to really face those fears. Don’t pretend you’ve already mastered them by clinging to a story about a massive shift in consciousness. You’ll miss the shift if you do.
I’ll put this in different terms, for a slightly different audience: This isn’t a crown chakra kind of moment. It’s not a third eye kind of moment. This is a root chakra, sacral chakra, and solar plexus chakra kind of moment. (And if you don’t know what I mean by these words, this part of the article isn’t for you.)
Now, I’m exaggerating a bit. Of course the crown and the third eye are involved here.
But this is really about getting the gunk out of the lower chakras, the ones that most people tend to avoid. Even the great spiritual masters have tended to hang out in the upper chakras, feeling their hearts, expressing their truths, in connection with their intuition and universal wisdom. But they weren’t always so good at working through the deeply rooted stuff about fear, security, scarcity, and sexuality (especially, sexuality, as most spiritual teachers and traditions continue to misunderstand and demean it).
And what’s happening now is that a great deal of the fear that collectively shapes our world is now coming up to be faced — and, because we are all products of mass consciousness, that includes every spiritual seeker as well.
Face this moment — with all of its uncertainty, its demands for caring for others, its pressures toward isolation and loss of physical contact and intimacy, its opportunities for connecting in a different manner — with love and compassion, but also face the fear that’s in you too. Because it’s there. And if you’re too busy shrouding it in a narrative of spiritual enlightenment or a story of global transformation, you’re might just miss out on that transformation.
If you want to pause, truly pause, dig deep into your fears around survival of the physical form, around your material needs being met (root chakra), about how you relate to others from a place of fear or love (sacral chakra), and what kind of person you will be at this time (solar plexus chakra). These are the areas of fruitful exploration right now. If you’re too busy projecting an image that you’ve already mastered these areas, an image designed for others’ consumption, then you’re also missing out on the work.
Be prepared to do some deep inner work, though. And that work is going to continue for a while because we have not seen the “worst” of this situation just yet. Humanity’s collective shadow is still emerging for us to see. We don’t yet know the full impact on human life, on our political and economic systems, or what exactly life will be like a month, 6 months or 18 months from now. You don’t yet know the impact on you.
That’s not a warning to inspire fear. Rather, it’s a reminder to be here, now, in the present, in the face of situation that continues to unfold and whose direction you cannot predict. Can you still meet this moment openhearted without knowing what is to come?