Thoughts On how to Behave during a Pandemic
from a Yoga Teacher
A pandemic hits everyone, yogi or not, and all of us will have a different opinion on how to behave. I’m not questioning that and I will not judge it (which is even the first point to consider).
Judging – who are we to judge? It won’t be easy not to judge, I know. It will bring us to our limits, I know. But if everyone would start with this single approach we would live more peaceful than we do right now.
Besides, this is one of the fundamental lessons in yoga. We take others as they are. You can and should be a role model but you should not judge others. Everyone walks through life and some see more obstacles along the way than others, that doesn’t make them a good or a bad human being.
Is there an influence?
I wrote “my Yoga thought”, but to understand where I come from you need to know that I’m a project manager in clinical research for a living, so both, Yoga and clinical research, play into my thinking. This is an influence I cannot deny.
And that’s the second important point. Everyone is having influences which play into our thoughts. This non-attachment is almost impossible. In yoga we talk about Aparigraha, the last Yama of Patanjali’s Eight Limbs of Yoga. Yamas are moral guidelines by which we should live with regard to our relationship with ourselves, and with the world around us. Even if I would like to step back and tell myself to think not like a project manager, my subconscious will tell me something else. So before I build my opinion I step back and put light on a thought from different angles, try to see it from the other side, try to understand where others are coming from and why people build the opinions they share.
But what about facts?
What is not deniable are facts, this is what I thought until people came along with a huge portion of mistrust. Fake data, fake news, fake here and fake there. Humans are not perfect and we all make mistakes, which is great as we learn from mistakes. It is not so great if our mistakes and doubts have an affect on others.
I still believe in facts.
Maybe I judge these facts different as someone who had his whole life nothing to do with research, but either way, a fact is a fact until proofed wrong, right?
Why do people doubt and deny facts? I guess this is the point I will never fully figure out but on my search for understanding I learned that it’s often based on their very unique personal experiences. Which is a valid reason but which is also dangerous because trying to convince someone of an opinion which may do harm in the end is simply dangerous.
Fake news – I get it, we are small figures when it comes to politics, but where is our own logic? News may not be 100 percent correct and may try to lead us in a direction which is good for the economy, politics, higher management reasons we don’t even know, but how can I deny the pandemic state? These pictures of patients in the ICU, coffins transported away from hospitals, nurses and doctors who explain how their current work day looks like, these are facts.
I would even go ahead and call it disrespectful to deny the fact that people are dying. And there is no matter how old they are, because this is often another “argument”.
They are all old. Really?
That’s not true, and honestly, even if, do we close our eyes because the people dying are old? They could be your grandparents, parents, siblings, relatives. You really don’t care? Then the problem is deeper than you imagine.
Non-empathy is classified as a mental disorder on the ICD-10 of mental and behavioural disorders, which means nothing else than these people have a mental illness they should work on. And that’s sad, sad that they experienced something in their life which leads them to this disorder, but it is not an excuse to harm others. We all have an individual responsibility to at least not harm others. Even if you think that you only harm yourself, that is not true. You have people around you who care and if something happens to you they will be harmed as well. We are all not alone in this life. People can argue they have nobody. Who knows if you don’t harm the people who need to look at you when you are gone? Who need to treat you when you are ill and who take stories of their patients home because they have empathy with every human being?
Helping each other, being there when someone needs you, supporting one another, all of this is what we need in a state of a pandemic. Criticism and negativity won’t help anyone.
What do you think will succeed in the long run? I’m sure it will be kindness. Something everyone can give, you don’t need a full bank account, a big house or a fast car to be kind.
A random act of kindness lights up the day for everyone and it costs you nothing at all!
There was a really old women in the drugstore, she had problems reading with her mask on – offer help. She was so grateful and I am sure I lighted up her day a bit. Someone in front of you isn’t fast enough packing up the bought items? Be patient, it won’t take more than five minutes. Why should you ruin this persons mood and your own for this? The homeless sitting outside in winter, is there an old coat you don’t need anymore? Instead of keeping it in your wardrobe just simply do something good and give it to those in need.
Patience is a virtue, but one you can learn. We have to spend more time at home these days, why not spending them with some learning – wasn’t there something you ever wanted to learn, to read or to write? A new language, an instrument, drawing – there are so many possibilities and many of them teach us patience. No book has been written in a day or two, colour needs time to dry, the sound of music is echoing longer than we think. I like to change things always to the positive and indeed, it is not easy, but it works.
My conclusion is that we all should act with more kindness and patience and I truly believe the world would be in general a better place, not only during a pandemic. Especially now we should all take a step back before we act. Many of us are stressed and if you are stressed it’s harder to reflect. We live now, this now is not easy, that’s a fact. This now is complicated in many areas but isn’t that a chance for all of us to become better persons? This Now is all we have and nobody knows what tomorrow bring, so if we would change to live more in the present moment we would start to understand that we are able to bring lots of joy in our life, even in lockdowns. I hear often that everyone lacks time. Just remember – you had time to go shopping, to meet for lunch, to do sports, to hang out with friends, alone the time you have now because you cannot do it as you are used to. Use it wisely, call friends and ask if they are ok, write letters, start a journal. If you write down your thoughts they are off your mind and give space, that’s a wonderful side effect of writing.
I just would hope that human beings start to live with more empathy and more kindness.
Ram Dass once said:
We are all just walking each other home. – Ram Dass
Let this be our theme for the future.