When it comes to spiritual consciousness, society and the environment, there are some underlying blessings to the covid-19 pandemic that has completely overturned the order of things on this planet.
1. Sent to a Corner
A turn of nature has sent all humans to a corner. It is as though Mother Earth has put us all in detention to think about the terrible things we have done, to each other and to her. I just hope that enough of us can learn our lessons, so that we can create a new paradigm and systems when we come out of this.
2. Natural remedies
We are uncovering, remembering and sharing natural remedies thanks to covid-19. There not being enough space in overcrowded hospitals has meant that humans are seeking other methods of home treatment – and this gift in disguise has meant that we are looking back to our indigenous wisdom of plant medicine. This is happening the world over, across and between countries and continents.
Every human on the Earth is being forced to look uncertainty in the face, and grapple with it. Uncertainty is a concept that most of us try to run away from, in attempting to secure a stable home, income source, family setting, routine, etc. However, uncertainty is one of the eternal truths of life. Nothing lasts forever, including our physical bodies, and it is actually impossible for any one person to fully control all variables in their life.
No matter how stable and secure your income, savings, house, family and routine, there will come a day (many days, in fact) when things get shaken up by forces out of your control. In this particular situation we find ourselves in, the entire global population is at a loss. None of us knows what to expect next. None of us is fully secure. None of us knows how long this is going to last. None of us knows what the world will look like “post covid-19.”
It is a profound life teaching: to let go of control and to let go of attachment. We might realise that pining too much for the past, or trying to over-plan future scenarios, is both stressful and futile – thus we hopefully learn to come more into the present moment.
4. No More Blind Eye
The poor and marginalized are often ignored in daily life and society. The more privileged can afford to turn a blind eye, as long as the downtrodden do not pose too much of a risk to their way of life. This is easily done by having sections of the city for the poor, who only travel to the wealthy sections to work for the rich, and the rich ensure their properties are well guarded. The rough realities are out of sight, out of mind.
However, with the covid-19 pandemic, the poor do actually pose a direct risk to the rich. Really speaking, anyone and everyone is a potential carrier. And one cannot know if they will be lucky enough to suffer mild symptoms, or unlucky enough to die, if they catch it. To prevent spread of the virus, the needs of the poor and marginalized are finally being brought to the attention of the more privileged, who are now forced to do something about it, to protect themselves if nothing else.
The deeper societal problems are being brought to the surface, and attempts are being made in one way or another to at least temporarily resolve them. Food is being distributed, new water points are being created, and the issues of the streets and the informal settlements are finally being talked about. Hopefully some of these measures will last beyond the covid-19 pandemic, especially if taken formally by the government.
5. Nature rejoices
The air is so clean, with so many polluting industries closed and cars off the road. There are photos going viral online of beautiful skylines and distant views of mountains that could never have been sighted before this. Animals wander at less risk, while we humans are caged. As for climate change, the activists have been crying for drastic measures for decades. Well, nature has taken things into her own hands, and if this isn’t drastic, I don’t know what is.
6. Heart opening
Thanks to covid-19, people are sharing free resources left, right and centre. Yoga teachers are giving free online classes, counselors are offering free sessions, and songwriters are offering free classes to their fans. Online websites are offering libraries of free books and movies to download. Then various online courses – from creative endeavors, to spiritual studies, to mathematics, to the humanities, to the science of wellbeing – are being offered for free by small local organisations up to the level of Yale and Harvard Universities! Self-development for the win! And physically, local initiatives are being organized of food distribution with millions globally selflessly volunteering to donate, collect, package, transport, and distribute the items.
As a collective, our selfless giving has truly increased. With compassion, love, and care, people are giving what they can. The global increase in giving, and the global increase in brotherhood, as we look out for each other, is nothing short of beautiful and inspiring.
This is manifesting differently for different people. Some of you are stuck alone in apartments and realising the value of human connection – perhaps feeling gratitude for your family, friends and loved ones whom you cannot physically be with right now. Perhaps you have made vows to be a better person when we get out of this; I certainly have. One thing to be grateful for is technology that at least enables us to talk with people we are not physically with. Can you imagine if we were still in the days of letter mail?
Some of you have retreated to your family homes, and are remembering what it’s like to spend real time relaxing with family members. Perhaps you sit around and play a game of Bao la Kiswahili, Oware, or some other boardgame like Backgammon. Perhaps you are cooking together, eating together, sitting and catching up on the last few months or years. As the pace of life slows down, we remember the simple things in life that can give us joy, when we are not crazily running around the big city chasing money.
Some of you are in far-from ideal home situations, where arguments are the norm or abuse is a larger reality. In this case, it is time to re-assess the situation, see how to get out of danger, and if you cannot do it yourself, to reach out for help.
Some are able to continue their work from home, and are grateful for the continuing source of income. Some are not, and realise what they had not fully appreciated before, perhaps vowing to never take certain things for granted again.
For all of us, no more can we walk about as we please. No more can we interact as we please. No more can we go where we please. Basic, simple freedoms have been taken away from us. Freedoms which we probably never gave a second thought to. It is a lesson for us to really appreciate the small things in life.
And that gratitude can start now, don’t wait for the pandemic to be over. Let’s start practicing. I am appreciating right now, today, that I have a roof over my head, just ate a full meal, and have been able to reconnect with family. What can you be grateful for today?
8. Hairy people
A light-hearted one here. We’re all getting oh so hairy. We can’t go to the hairdresser or barber. Ladies can’t go to the salons for a good wax. Hairy heads, hairy faces, hairy legs. We are becoming furry animals! And those of us who attempt home-jobs, are often having disastrous outcomes.
There are real benefits to this hairy covid-19 situation, believe it or not! As we prioritize our health over our looks, we might start to realise how we have created as a society these social constructs of beauty. Whereas, really, they are arbitrary and do not really matter in the larger scale of things. Also, us minimizing interaction has led to an increase in DIY – we are forced to roll up our sleeves and get resourceful at home. As for salons, we might realise another reason we go there – the social aspect is perhaps just as important as the beauty, and now we are sure as hell missing out on that personal interaction.
9. Looking inwards
With all this time we must spend at home, we are bound to spend time in self-reflection. We are forced to look inwards, and think about our life and actions. What have we done well? What have we not done so well? How can we improve? We have no choice but to face ourselves.
It is a great time to get more spiritual, in a less material and more personal fashion. Now is the time, if any, to attempt or delve deeper into meditation and other such practices that bring inner peace, joy, wisdom, guidance, and the ability to manifest.
10. Slowing down
We are forced to slow down the pace of life and breathe. It is as though the entire planet is heaving a sigh of relief and taking some rest. It’s a good time to question if we really need to be leading such fast-paced, stressful lives in which we forget the simple things and turn into robots. What changes can we make in our lives post-covid-19 that will allow us to take time to breathe, rest and take care of our own wellbeing too?
What other surprisingly positive impacts of the COVID pandemic can you think of?