Mom Talk: Finding The Silver Lining During The COVID-19 Crisis

Written by

Kristen Vandivier

10:00 am
03/20/20

PHOTOGRAPHED BY BRIDGET WOOD

Today, life is completely different for nearly every person on earth. Our realities just a few weeks ago are no longer our realities now. Grief, panic, and anxiety are understandable emotions, but today’s Mom Talk offers some insight into finding the silver lining during the COVID-19 crisis, and staying steady—and even thriving—during unsteady times. Kristen Vandivier is an instructor of Vedic Meditation based in Mill Valley, CA. She is the founder of The Vedic Method and Meditation Without Borders and the mother of three children. Read her inspiring perspective below.

By now, all of us are effected in some way by the coronavirus outbreak. Some of us are under quarantine, some of us on lockdown. Some of us are already sick, some afraid for ourselves or loved ones. Some of us are unable to work and can’t afford our bills, some of us own businesses that can’t afford to be shut down. None of us have ever experienced anything like this before. If ever there was a time for the mind to want to go to a dark place, it is now. But it’s important not to give in to the fear and negativity. Fear brings us down and makes us more vulnerable to both the virus and the overwhelm. There is a lot of advice going around out there about what to do during this time from wellness “experts,” people like me who are just figuring it out ourselves, flying the plane as we’re building it. Some of it can feel a bit insensitive, especially to those who are really getting rocked by this. In no way am I intending to make light of the gravity of this situation, I offer these suggestions simply as examples of what has been working for me, which hopefully can serve as mental handholds for others during this unsteady time. How do we get above it? How do we find a silver lining in this darkness? There’s no easy answer, but the following are a few things we can do to support our mental health in this crisis:

Surrender to what is
All of us are going through the process of letting go of our expectations for what we thought was going to happen these next few weeks and months and moving into what is actually happening. The faster we can adapt to this new reality, the less suffering and resistance we will experience. Once we adapt, only then can we see the light reflecting off the shards. And what is, for most of us, a time to slow down, a time to go inward. Notice if you have a resistance to slowing down and not doing (you wouldn’t be alone). It may not be by choice, but we can try to enjoy this forced slowing down, even thinking of it as a personal retreat, or at least embrace it as possibly what we—and the world—need right now.

Observe the bigger picture
When we pull back and let ourselves simply witness what’s happening on a global scale, it’s not all negative–China is showing signs of recovery, the environment is showing signs of improvement from the lockdowns, Italians are playing music across balconies to find connection. There is much that is imbalanced about how we humans live in the world, and when that imbalance gets to be too great, nature steps in to reorganize. When it happens quickly there is a lot of destruction, but this always leads to creation. On a personal and collective level, we can observe and ask ourselves, what is being deconstructed right now? What paradigms, patterns, and constructs are in need of being let go? And what is relevant now that these old systems are gone?

Focus on what you can do rather than what you can’t
For everyone, but especially for those of us on quarantine or lockdown (myself included), it can feel like the walls are closing in. Simple activities like meeting a friend for coffee or going to the library are now prohibited. Shifting our gaze to the things we can do feels freeing. Perhaps there’s some things you’ve wanted the time to give attention to but there never seems to be an opportunity in our normal fast-paced lifestyles–learning a new language, taking an online class, picking up a meditation practice. For me, I’ve got my eye on my impossibly disorganized garage.

Get creative
Creativity doesn’t just happen in spite of conflict, creativity actually requires destruction and conflict. The old ways of doing things always have to be cleared to make way for whatever is new. Right now, we are all experiencing a massively destructive time, both as individuals and as a global community. This is the perfect breeding ground for new ideas and creative projects, like starting a podcast or redesigning your website. And if your business is restricted by the crisis, perhaps there is a way to reinvent your offering to keep things going. For example, a member of my family whose business relies upon farmers markets is banding together with the other vendors to create an online farmer’s market for their area.

Tune into beauty
Over the past couple days, I’ve gone for walks outside and have been struck by the contrast between the tempest in my mind and on my newsfeed and the serenity and beauty of nature. It’s as if the extreme disparity of the two makes the beauty that is always there that much more visible. Noticing the beauty in nature and in the unifying interactions between people helps to snap us into the present and reminds us of the intelligent organization underlying everything. And once we tune into beauty, we see it all the time.

We’re all in this together
For better or for worse, tragedy always brings people together. I have been corresponding with my friends in Australia, India, Mexico, and all over the U.S. and it’s incredible that we all are simultaneously sharing in the experience of this global event–there’s something comforting in that. Within this chaos, we are getting a rare glimpse of unity on a grand scale. We are seeing how interconnected we all are, and how much our individual actions can have an impact on the whole. I have to believe this taste of oneness will have an influence on our choices in the future and help us create a healthier, kinder reality from here.

A few words of hope
Of all the things I’ve read over the past few days, this poem had the most uplifting effect on me:

“And the people stayed home. And they read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still. And they listened more deeply. Some meditated, some prayed, some danced. Some met their shadows. And the people began to think differently.

And the people healed. And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal.

And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live, and they healed the earth fully, as they had been healed.”
– Kitty O’Meara

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