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On Inner Resources and Pandemics

The past three weeks have brought so much confusion, uncertainty, and chaos. But they’ve also brought poignance, connection, and compassion. Devastation, yet also innovation. Separation, followed by new kinds of intimacy. This is an inevitable reckoning of sorts, for our greed and arrogance. We have exploited our home to its very limits, careless with its resources, and then we are disturbingly surprised when faced with consequences.

The question now is what we, as individuals, are going to do. What path will we choose? Will we be calmly open to the new ways, or closed and fearfully resistant? Will we choose or form habits that telegraph our fear, or will we bob and weave, smartly adapting to each curveball?

The brain needs time to adjust to these new circumstances, and we can make use of that time by cultivating habits that are supportive during uncertain times. Here’s a great short video by Brown University’s Dr. Jud (who specializes in anxiety and habit change) about exactly that. When up against The Unwanted, whether it’s a backache or a pandemic, we always have a choice about how we will respond as long as we have the requisite training. In the absence of training, the mind will do what the mind does best: generate worrying thoughts all day long, ruminate, and be an inhospitable place for someone trying to navigate the unknown.

In other words, if you are worrying, obsessing, or if you have anxiety right now, that is perfectly normal in this situation. It’s the mind’s default state. There is nothing wrong with you. And in the event that you aren’t happy with this default mode, the good news is that you can do something about it. Right. Now.

I only have one minute: Close your eyes if you are comfortable doing so, place your feet flat on the floor, and turn inward. Feel your feet, from the inside out. Put your attention on them as you take a few belly and chest-filling breaths, and let the air out very slowly.

I have 10 minutes right now:

Listen to this.

I have 30 minutes to an hour on Thursday, at 1pm ET: Join me on Thursday at 1pm ET for a self-care practice and tips on creating your own formalized self-care plan. RSVP at mary@marymartinphd and I will send you the link to the Zoom call.

What do awareness, kindness, compassion, generosity, and patience have in common? They are all resources that you can cultivate. And we need all of the resources we can get right now. I'm here for you! Ask me anything!


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