We need something to cling to — something that will give us hope.
The situation we are all in right now is unprecedented; no one has ever experienced something as all-encompassing as the danger presented by the novel coronavirus, also known as COVID-19.
The first few weeks have stretched us. We’re all watching ourselves go from denial to terror, from concerned to numb, from hopeful to distracted, and from giddy to woefully resigned.
Unless we’ve been living under a rock, which would be an enviable existence at this point, we are well aware of what can happen to us, our families, our friends and community. We know and we are scared.
This is when many people turn to prayer. But what is prayer now, in this world where spirituality and religion are often times the biggest cause for war, for hate, for division?
How do we come to believe again in that which we cannot see, when our most spiritual ideas have been politicized and rendered ineffective?
We see religious fanatics and rude atheists. We see people turning on the religion they were born into, as well as those who believe they are indeed superior to others, because of their religion.
With religion getting such a bad rap, and spirituality coming off looking like a trendy fad for those who spend luxurious afternoons at the yoga center, blessing their crystals while drinking copious amounts of kale juice, it’s hard to imagine how spirituality can actually help us at this point.
But more so, will we turn to faith for help? Can we still believe? Are we able to open to the idea of Divine Providence? Or are we just so jaded that we can no longer do anything unless we beat the life out of it first?
We need something to cling to — something that will give us hope. And as it is with spiritual concepts, it all starts with the mind. If we shut off the idea that we cannot walk on a spiritual path, then we give ourselves a little less to work with, if we’re ever to rise above our own fears.
It might be time for people to take a second look at spirituality, to forget all that they hate about religion, to disassociate spirituality from an invisible being who lives in the sky. Enough with the hate and judgement.
The truth of the matter is that belief is exactly what’s going to make your life better right now.
If you are a true atheist, meaning someone who doesn’t believe in the concept of a deity, then you are able to use science as a means for hope. However, I see very few true atheists these days.
What I do see are disgruntled ex-Christians who go out of their way to put those who do have faith down for their beliefs. That’s not atheism, that’s anger. If you hate your religion, and want to make fun of people who have faith, then it might be time to back off.
Where is the place right now for hate? There is none.
If you are a fundamentalist person of faith, then you already have your path. And if this path is working for you, how can share the best of it with others, without condescending to those who do not practice your method?
Without going into an existential crisis, I propose that if we are, indeed, living in our own little worlds, that we try, as an exercise, to create a mental space where we can find asylum from the worries and woes of the world today. No matter who you are, you need solace; you need an exit door — something to get you out of the clear and present danger that COVID-19 presents.
It’s been nonstop Coronavirus talk since it started — it’s all we ever talk about now. It’s interrupted all of our practices. We can’t even have sex without thinking about it! And there’s just so much Netflix a person can watch before we go out of our ever-loving minds.
We need more, and that “more” comes from within. That “more” is spirit. We need to invest in our spiritual well-being. Right now.
As a freethinker, non-religious person, I like to read up on Eastern philosophy. I study the Tao and Zen Buddhism. I practice detachment, which is my way of pulling back from the hysteria.
I’m also a student of Hinduism, which lets me know, through the teachings of Krishna, that not only do all things pass, but that it’s okay if they do, because how could it be otherwise?
I also meditate, which is a practice that can be found in religion as well. I use the sacred and ancient mantra, Om Namah shivaya, which helps me focus.
That kind of one-pointed focus allows me to push aside the noise of the world. And this is one noisy world. Meditation takes time and practice, but once it’s achieved, it’s the closest thing we have to leaving our bodies while remaining in them.
Will the world find faith again? In God? In the All, in Nature, in Love? Will we be able to create a peaceful space inside our minds so that we can retreat and get our bearings? I hope so.
I hope we can use creative visualization to bring about the end of this virus. I hope we can join with science and find the cure for our inability to believe in anything but our own demise.
There are many spiritual books, even audiobooks, that we can invest in during this season. There are great philosophers and writers, amazing speakers and helpful souls who are here for this purpose: to help.
If you’re interested in spiritual ways to keep your mind at ease, please enjoy this list of books that are guaranteed to help you reach higher ground.
1. The Kybalion: Hermetic Philosophy by the Three Initiates
2. The Way of Zen by Alan Watts
3. Tao Te Ching by Lao Tsu
4. The Bhagavad Gita by Vyasa
5. The Power of Intention by Dr. Wayne Dyer
6. The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success by Deepak Chopra
7. You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay
8. Kabbalah for Dummies by Arthur Kurzweil
9. When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron
10. The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo
Dori Hartley is a portrait artist, essayist and a journalist. She’s been published in The Huffington Post, ParentDish, The Daily Beast, Psychology Today, XOJane, MyDaily and The Stir. Her art books ‘Beauty’, ‘Antler Velvet’, and ‘Mads Mikkelsen: Portraits of the Actor’ are all available on Amazon.