The spiritual lessons of COVID

A person wearing a COVID mask with their hands clasped in prayer, while another person looks at their own reflection, with a statue resembling a spiritual archetype gazes on. "The spiritual lessons of COVID."
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I’ve been wondering about the true spiritual lessons we are meant to learn from the present sociopolitical context we’re living in regarding COVID and vaccines. Here are a few thoughts.

Two major concepts from spirituality that carry a lot of meaning for me are acceptance and responsibility. The key to peace is accepting people and circumstances as they are. The key to power is responsibility. Here are some things that I’m trying to remember to accept and take responsibility for.

  1. The pandemic is still ongoing and we don’t know when it will end. That means that people will keep dying and getting sick if we don’t take the right precautions.
  2. Regardless of what is “really” happening, we are living at a time in history when most people don’t know their neighbors and society is too big for our tribal brains (which evolved long before industrialization and fossil fuels made the present circumstances possible) to easily keep track of the various ways we impact and depend on each other, which makes it very unlikely that we will come to any agreement about how to collectively respond to the present crisis.
  3. We are the descendants of countless generations of people who lived during times of great uncertainty and trauma, and our disconnection from and ignorance of that past—that ancestry—makes us much less aware of how it is affecting us today. We don’t trust each other, we don’t trust our institutions, and we don’t trust the people who we have put in charge to make decisions. If we’re being really honest, we don’t trust ourselves. But we are also living during a time of unprecedented awareness and learning in the domain of healing, including ancestral trauma healing.
  4. It’s a natural human tendency to get used to what we know and to believe that what we know is natural and inevitable, and this tendency will make it hard for us to accept when circumstances change to something that we don’t know. This tendency will also cause us to cling to any possibility that the new scary circumstance will soon just go away and we can return to what we know. If we let it, it will also delay our adaptation to the new circumstances, which will cause greater suffering.
  5. Sustainable change cannot happen without accepting the present as it is. This is true for changes we wish to make internally, changes we wish to make in the world, and changes we wish to see in other people.
  6. We are deeply interconnected in ways that we aren’t fully conscious of. From the tangible (think of all the people whose efforts contributed to your ability to read what I’ve written here) to the intangible (think of all of the people who may have died after breathing in a microbe that once was in your body). Our modern consumer-capitalist fossil-fuel economy has done an excellent job of obscuring this interconnection and convincing us that individualism is reality, but the truth is that we live or die together. This civilization is evidence of what we can create together unconsciously. It’s nothing to shake a stick at, but imagine what we can create together consciously.
  7. The locus of our control lies inside of each of us. We cannot change the world without first changing people. We cannot change people without first changing ourselves. We cannot change ourselves without first loving ourselves. In order to love ourselves, we must take responsibility for caring for our needs, we must accept ourselves as we are, and we must come to know ourselves on a much deeper level.
  8. It can be very difficult to imagine a better future and a path towards it, but we are capable of so much more than we know if we work together. It can be hard to imagine that we can work together, because there is so much evidence in the world that we can’t even get along. There are such big problems, and so many, that even saying that you want to try to fix them makes you sound unhinged and naive. That’s a result of perfectionism and all-or-nothing thinking, which is a traumatized mindset. (“If you can’t do it all, or perfectly, then there’s no use trying.”) Instead, I like to think of life as a choose-your-own-adventure video game. Sure, you can go try and defeat the big boss on day one, but it’s not the wisest choice. What makes more sense is to start on your level 1, and to team up with others to support each other’s progress.

That’s what I’m trying to do with How to get along – a free weekly drop-in communication skills workshop. My goal is to help people learn how to meet themselves (and others) where they are on the path to untangling from the wounds of white supremacy, patriarchy, consumer capitalism, ancestral trauma, and all the other destructive trauma-borne ideas that are currently preventing us from responding to the present moment with love and hope.

Contact me if you want more information about the workshop. I can’t do this alone. I don’t need everybody, but if you’ve read this far, I want you on my team.

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Nauser Bear is a licensed marriage and family therapist in California (LMFT#123099; licensed with the BBS as Nicholas Jon Reynolds) and a coach for HELPAs (Healers, Educators, Leaders, Parents, Activists & Artists) wanting to build a life of sustainable selfless service. To work with Nauser, send an email to nauserbeartherapy at gmail dot com, call (510) 394-5373, or schedule a free 20-minute consultation by clicking here.

Disclaimer: This blog and comments on it do not constitute medical or mental health advice. If you are in need of support and live in California, contact me to set up a consult to see if working together is a fit. Otherwise, seek mental health support in your area. If you are in danger of hurting yourself or someone else, please call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention hotline, which is available 24/7, at 800-273-8255.

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