- Andrew Lewis
THOUGHTS ON DIFFICULT TIMES
Throughout the world recent events have left us feeling unsafe and unsure. Every day we are reminded that we are living in uncertain and fearful times. In itself, this is interesting. Haven't we always? When has tomorrow ever been certain? Life hangs by a thread. That is the nature of things, the nature of life. That is what makes each moment precious. There are no guarantees about what tomorrow will be like or even that it will arrive.
When certain situations (like the present pandemic) create heightened awareness of this, our levels of anxiety rise. We are shaken from complacency and comfort. But things have always been of this nature. Even when we have felt comfortable, safe, in control, life has been uncertain, guarantees void. That is not something we should overlook.
How do we work with fear and anxiety? Consider the following:
Focus on what is here now, accepting that 'now' is the only place you can be. This is the only sort 'being alive' that is possible. You can think about next week, you can anticipate it with hope or fear, but you can't be alive in it because it isn't now, it isn't where you are! Stay with what you have and what you can do now. Focus on what is beautiful and deserves your gratitude now, what creates joy for you now, and do not crave for something more or different. That is how we be 'alive', how we act, choose, have agency, how we 'show up' for the moment that is life. We can enjoy the beauty of a rainbow as long as we don't spoil the moment by striving to keep the rainbow, pull it down from the sky, fold it up and put it safely in a jar. That is when things start to fall apart.
Accept that nothing lasts, nothing is ever yours to keep, that there are no guarantees, no certainties. Live comfortably with this knowledge; it gives the present moment its energy and value. To live uncomfortably with it won't change it! It will just make you miserable and stifle your creativity.
That is all there is. All there ever was or will be. Focus positively without self-pity or blame, and with gratitude and resilience on where you really are, with what you've really got, returning to it every time you notice you have wandered too far into the darkness. Through this practice fear and anxiety gradually move from centre stage. This enables you to see that there is always something positive, however slight, however simple, that you can bring to the moment. By becoming less drawn to the negative, you become stronger than you imagined. This strength is not some inherent, genetic part of your character, it is a skill that we can all acquire through intention and practice.