In the darkness, comes opportunity

Seeing what's happening in a new light, a chat on wellness and health during a pandemic, essential businesses, trauma response, the end of the world, and archives

Hi friends,

New York City has been hit even harder with COVID-19. Around the city, hospitals have run out of ventilators, morgues have filled up, and bodies are being piled into refrigerated trucks (content warning). Despite all of this, people clamored to watch the USNS Comfort arriving this weekend without social distancing or protective equipment.

There are many predictions on how this will end.

Some scientists say that social distancing will be the new normal for at least a year until we develop and distribute a vaccine.

Some epidemiologists estimate that this pattern of shelter-in-place will become an annual tradition to come.

Some economists forecast that our recovery will be a lot slower than we think.

While we can run infinite mathematical models and economic projections, the timeline rests in the hands of this virus. Unfortunately, pandemics don't care about stock markets, jobs, or vacations we have scheduled. All we can do is to take this day by day.

Another day we get through is another day closer to the end of this nightmare.

With that said, I want to shift the focus to something else this week. A radical shift in our every day to be at home opens presents us with new ways of thinking and behaving unlike we’ve ever had before. In the darkness, comes the opportunity to shift our relationship with others, ourselves, and the greater world around us.

When living with others, we have an opportunity to deepen our relationship with those that are immediately around us. We are finally present for those family meals, playtimes, and conversations with roommates we missed amidst our daily hustle.

In isolation, we spend considerable time alone with our thoughts. We try to escape with news, social media, video games, and digital happy hours... but the time we have can become a ripe opportunity to reflect, practice gratitude, and cultivate equanimity.

Last year, I sat in silence, meditating for two months around the world. At one of my retreats, I was confined to a small cement room with nothing more than a wood brick and a bamboo mat to sleep on. I felt a flurry of emotions (boredom, frustration, angst), and it was in those moments, that I started to cultivate a relationship with these more unpleasant emotions.

The truth is, challenging times are the only opportunities we have in practicing how we recognize and respond to these unfavorable emotions. What is difficult one day becomes fodder for equanimity for the future.

As we start to clamp down on our time, but also our finances, we reflect on what we truly need. They are far greater than luxurious vacations or dream cars. What nourishes us are these invaluable connections with others that are closer than we think, just a room or a phone call away.

Lastly, one of the biggest opportunities that have come out of this, has been the opportunity to reevaluate our relationship with this planet. Since we have isolated and businesses have paused, we see an unprecedented decrease in pollution. In Madrid, average nitrogen dioxide levels have dropped by 56%, and in New York, carbon monoxide levels from cars have been reduced by nearly 50%. We can rethink our relationship with nature and implement ways of coexisting as a partner, rather than as parasite or cancer.

Although we may grumble our way through change, what is happening to us may be the blessing we weren’t expecting to get.

Announcement!

Tomorrow (Thursday, April 2), I am hosting a livestream with two other amazing queer leaders on mindfulness, health, and employment amidst everything that is going on during COVID-19.

RSVP via Eventbrite (to get the recording emailed) or bookmark the link on Facebook Live or YouTube Live to get reminders there. Would love to see you there!


Are they essential?

"Employees who have asked to work from home were told that it was too costly and difficult to set up. After an employee was stopped on the way to the center by law enforcement and told to go home, the company gave employees a letter to show the police in the future, the person said."

A great read on how some businesses, including Restoration Hardware, are risking their employee's lives to classify themselves as an essential business.

Understanding trauma responses

Gabor Mate and Russell Brand talk about the current pandemic and share some insights on how we are managing it. These two powerhouses provide great insights on trauma response, aid, and where we can go from here.

The business of doomsday

One of my favorite newsletters, The Hustle, wrote a fascinating piece this weekend on the doomsday business. After reading, I fell into a black hole looking at various floorplans of luxury bunkers. Just… wow.

Coronavirus archives

I recently discovered this website, COVID-19 Archive, through Reddit, which aggregates various news articles since January 1, 2020, about the coronavirus. The headlines from early January and February are unsettling, especially given the information and circumstances that we are in now.

Some excerpts:

As always, thanks for reading!

P.S. If you enjoyed this, share or sign up here: mindfulmoments.substack.com

Anything else? You can always hit "reply" to email me directly. 💌

Have a beautiful day!

Metta (loving-kindness),
Steven

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