The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted a curious paradox in our experience of bliss.
On the one hand, we are confronted with realities such a loss of freedom, financial and career instability and illness, and the possibility of death. This appears to be the opposite of bliss. We adjust our internal mindset to the daily increase in statistics of unemployed, confirmed cases of infection, and death from COVID- 19. We come to terms with the prospect of continued social isolation and new social distancing protocols. And, we have a greater awareness of the suffering in our community of shortages, health issues, social inequities, and loneliness.
On the other hand, we are also finding ourselves really appreciating what we have: food and water, supportive bonds with friends and family. We laugh at some of the jokes about the demands for toilet paper and soap as a comment on people’s previous levels of hygiene and what is most important when the chips are down. With this candid look at our humanity, we find these moments of bliss, when we are able to allow, let go, be in the moment, and just bear witness.
Allowing both the Bliss and the Pain
This time is a rollercoaster of lows and highs. When we find ourselves in a high enjoying the moment and at peace, we may perhaps feel guilty that it is not right given the circumstance that we are all facing. However, there is the paradox that the darkness cannot be experienced without the light. Therefore, give yourself permission to be present to fun and joy as they show up alongside the anger, sadness, and frustration of adapting to the demands of these circumstances.
Is it ok to want to be blissful? If you agree that this is still worth pursuing, consider the ways in which you could achieve it. One option in seeking this bliss is to fully acknowledge and allow the emotions of both the lows and the highs.
- Sadness and memorial for those dying alone.
- Anger for the lack of coordinated response to support those on the front line.
- Fear that you may unknowingly be a carrier.
- Heartfelt gratitude for those giving of themselves and for the quality of life still experienced.
This complete allowing provides the stage for a deeper state of awareness, tolerance, and compassion.
The stress of any situation often comes from things that are not within our direct control. However, we do have the option to control our reaction. We can address this with two key practices. First, be clear on the things we are in a position to do something about. Second, let go of concerns that we cannot address. This might mean changing expectations, letting go of some things that were based on what we knew before the pandemic. One way to do this is to consider those realities you want to continue to pursue and those you wish to cast adrift.
When we have invested in a particular vision or plan that no longer is the best fit there can be resistance to saying goodbye. It is a challenge to not be identified with something we have created. However, this inability to maintain a clear focus often gets in the way of our bliss. Be open to switching to a totally different goal or adopting a completely different way to make progress.
The Bliss of Being in the Moment
For some of us, this paradigm shift can be an opportunity to be more creative. With more time at home, we can do more around the house. Things such as cooking new recipes, creating art, or growing new plants. These activities allow us to experience a state of flow. We may find it fleetingly in the taste of a new dish, in appreciation of a thing of beauty, in the thrill of design, or in the wonder of new life. These things provide the stillness where it is easiest to connect, but it can happen anywhere. The moment of greeting exchanged at the store, standing six feet apart, or even putting on our mask.
Witness the Ups and Downs
Maybe you can identify the source of your emotional highs and lows. Working from home provides more control over what we allow into our space on a daily basis. However, this comes with greater responsibility for finding the balance. This can be everything from news coverage and sourcing, to healthy food, moderate exercise, and uplifting (virtual) interactions. When you know how things impact you, this information can be used to deliberately choose more blissful experiences. Working on the front line means your space is likely filled with lots of challenging energies as people adapt and make sense of it all. This means you have to be even more deliberate about nurturing yourself when you are able.
Notice what you are appreciating. Perhaps extra quality family time at home, no commuting, and clean air. I am appreciating finally having adapted my routines and goals to accommodate the stay at home requirements. Also, of course, any gratitude practice provides for instant bliss.
Identify what you miss that you took for granted. Perhaps the option to fly to faraway places, toilet roll 😉, and going out for a meal. These are the treats and long-term vacation plans that you will celebrate or make time for when the time is right.
Observe what you want to keep or have more of when the Pandemic is over. Personally, I love having more dedicated time for my goals. I love being able to connect without having to drive all over. I sincerely hope that as a nation we work through our deep-seated prejudices against people of color and treat them with the value and respect that they deserve.
All these things are a gift for your conscious awareness reminding us that we are more than our daily roles and routines. What insights are you grateful for?
I would love to hear where you have experienced bliss and how your awareness has shifted.