4 Steps to More Inner Peace During a Pandemic
By John J. Murphy, guest contributor
You know that virus that scares you? It isn’t the virus. You know the disruption that upsets you? It isn’t the disruption. You know that person who annoys you? It isn’t the person.
I've learned we are never upset for the reasons we think we are. We are upset because we see something in the mind’s eye that is not there. We are holding something negative in mind and projecting it onto the world. So, of course we are right. We are experiencing a manifestation of our thoughts. Our perception becomes our reality. We are being given “evidence” that “we are right.”
But wait a minute. Isn’t perception reality? Isn’t that one of the oldest beliefs known to humankind?
Stop and consider, is the earth flat? People thought this for thousands of years. It sure looks flat when we stand at the beach and look at the horizon. It doesn’t appear to be moving either. Right? Now consider another perspective, perhaps one from space. Clearly, the earth is not flat, and it is hurling through space at a rapid speed while spinning on its axis.
Hmmm. Perception? Reality?
Now consider a table or a wall or even your hand. Appears to be solid, right? Especially, if you hit the table or wall with your hand. Would you believe that all three are 99.9% empty space (at the atomic level)? Just check with your favorite physicist. Perception can be very misleading.
Here’s the point. We can all look at the same thing and interpret it very differently, depending on what we hold in mind – a person, a virus, a layoff. It isn’t anything “out there” that upsets us. It is what we think of out there that upsets us. If you find yourself constantly stressed and distracted during this pandemic over abstract fears regarding it and what may happen rather than what is currently happening, that comes from your mind and can be detrimental to dealing with the actual situation. The mind is very powerful. Therefore, learning to be mindful – minding the mind – is a wise and healthy choice. It is the one and only thing we really have any control over.
I've also learned that we do not try to change the world, but that we change our minds about the world. Maybe this is meant to teach us something. What might that be? Maybe the coronavirus is giving an opportunity to relax and meditate or listen to soothing music. Maybe the economic slowdown is giving us an opportunity to learn a new skill. Both the quarantine and the virus have caused incredibly large changes to our lives, but most of us cannot do anything to prevent the spread or help those affected, aside from staying home, and often giving more space to our thoughts and worries. Now is a time where changing your mind about the world can help while you are staying home and physically distancing yourself from your community.
Stress is a response to the mind. It doesn’t happen to us. It comes from us. Therefore, whenever we are feeling stressed, it is wise to stop and consider why. In this situation, why am I choosing stress? What thoughts or beliefs (repeated thoughts) am I holding in mind? This helps us get to the root cause of the problem, which is a projection of the ego, and find ways to detach from it. Why try to manage something when we can delete it? Why solve problems inside a box when it is the box (fear-based ego thought system) that is the problem?
Here are four “let” steps to more inner peace that I use whenever I am challenged with a frustrating or frightening situation:
Step One: Let Be
It is what it is. We cannot change the present. Learn to accept it and grow from it. Be mindful. Be awake. Be aware. Be contemplative. Be present. Be patient. Be kind. Quiet the mental chatter with deep breathing and meditation.
Step Two: Let Go
Let go of the ego. Let go of the fear. Let go of the duality, the us-them, win-lose, right-wrong mindset. Let go of control issues, insecurity, and doubt. Let go of the root cause of hostility, grievances, and guilt. Drop the emotional baggage you have been lugging around for who knows how long. Let go of the criticism, judgment, and negative images you have been projecting onto the world. It may seem hard, at first, to let go of what you've been carrying, but as you practice letting things go it will become easier.
Step Three: Let See
See anew when you release the blinders you didn’t know you were wearing. See the world and the people and situations in the world with an enlightened perspective. Wow! I now see this annoying person with empathy and compassion. I see him calling out for love and appreciation – just like I am. I see the virus as an opportunity to learn and grow and do something positive for the world. And the boredom? Maybe it’s exactly what I need to become more mindful, aware, and appreciative of the many things I have taken for granted.
Step Four: Let Flow
Flow is what is meant to be. It is sacred. It is the Tao. It is Chi. It is forever flowing. It is health and well-being, divine intelligence, directing every cell in our bodies to know what to do. It is emergence, like a Hibiscus blossoming in the sunlight. It is day and night, summer and winter, power and grace - always in perfect harmony and balance.
How do we experience more flow and inner peace in life? We feel it when we see it. How do we see it – especially when times are tough? We see it when we let go of our negative mental projections and limiting beliefs. And how do we do that? We do that by being present, living in the eternal now with mindfulness, unconditional love, appreciation, and gratitude.
Four steps to more inner peace: Let be, let go, let see, and let flow.
Want a shortcut? Be thankful, even for your problems. They are trying to tell you something. We reap what we sow. Every problem is a lesson and a solution in disguise.
Further Reading: Managing Emotions Effectively in Uncertain Times
John Murphy is an author, speaker, entrepreneur, business consultant, and coach and has been for over 30 years. He has traveled as many as 51 weeks out of 52, teaching in dozens of countries around the world, with languages and cultures he knew little about.
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