As we move as a world community through the crisis of the pandemic, one of the biggest hurdles to working together is the stark polarization among views. Many people have grabbed on to an extreme view (doesn’t matter which one for this discussion), and they are arguing for this view to their last breath.
Why such polarization? And why such fierce defending of extreme views?
I would suggest the root is fear. Fear is a highly contagious emotional state. Just watch a flock of birds or a herd of deer when one member is startled. The whole group goes into panic and flees. Are we witnessing episodes of this fear contagion globally during this pandemic?
Why else would some people swing to such extreme views? Why else would they be stubbornly unwilling to hear alternative views? And why is there so little discourse about the middle ground?
Many people are afraid and in their own emotional “lock down” mode. Is this a trauma response?
What can reach such locked down hearts? Many people are struggling intensely with loneliness, fear about money, fear for their loved ones, uncertainty about the future, fear of the unknown, anxiety about the world going in the wrong direction, and fear of being unable to cope or manage. Is there a pharmaceutical company that can produce a pill that addresses this kind of fear?
I would suggest, no. Sure, they might be able to provide a pill that numbs the heart, but so far as I know, no company has produced a “bravery” pill.
What if I told you that the single best remedy for anxiety costs nothing and is accessible anywhere and at any time
Sounds too good to be true, right?
Well, in our increasingly complicated world, I fear we have lost some of the basic and practical wisdom of our elders. I challenging us to pull back some of that basic wisdom to serve us as we enter into 2021.
What do you think? Can we just run fast enough to be able to outrun our fears? Can we take the fear and put it in a box – maybe a soundproof box? Or maybe pull out our sword and kill our fear? Could that bring us to a steadier, more confident and engaged place?
I don’t know about you, but these strategies never work for me. Instead, it is this simple act of courage that works unfailingly for me: I choose to be present with my fear. I slow down, sit down, and become familiar with it.
It is the pushing away of fear that gives it strength (and an unearthly scariness!). When I choose to slow my thought process down, tune into my heart, and actually feel what is going on in my heart, my fear gets acknowledged and it begins to soften and slow down too. It is very much like getting to know another person. Being curious. Being open and kind. Being patient. These behaviours work miracles with fear.
As most of you know, I was brought up in a Buddhist community where I was taught that meditation is the ultimate act of a bravery. Willingness to sit down quietly and be with my mind in a kind, caring and courageous way is the way to develop inner strength and fortitude. Rather than being run over by spinning fears, we can develop the strength to be steady and to walk the road ahead.
The Buddha called this the middle way, and I can’t help but wonder if his ancient wisdom may provide the guidance needed in these highly polarized times.
I am empowering my community to have the best year ever in 2021! I’m offering a free 2021 New Year’s Empowerment Series. Join me in initiating a well-balanced, inspired and fully empowered 2021!
And saving the best for last… see the exciting launch of the new gamified meditation course: Heal Your Heart Through Meditation.