You might say that these days fear is all around. It is being broadcast on TV signals, radio waves and on the internet. And we can definitely feel it in the ethers. Fear creeps in quietly and you may not even realize it when you read the daily news or listen to it on the radio. Talk of new cases, impending restrictions, numbers and statistics, all just sound like facts.
However, fear is baked into all of this information. It is the carrier wave. The information itself can be very scary. But we are also given orders that imply that if we don’t follow them, then we’re spreading the virus and possibly killing more people. This is a very heavy notion to live with!
It’s not just what we’re being told that’s scary. It’s also what is being omitted from mass media, political discussion and even personal human to human exchanges. The topic of pandemic has become so charged, that many of us are no longer comfortable to have open discussions on the topic. Families are divided, friends go separate ways…. division rather than much needed unity is taking over. In this regard, this is a very sad moment for humanity.
The general recommendations are to stay home, wash our hands, wear a mask and avoid being with people. Even if these make sense to you and are useful, it is important to acknowledge that these strategies are mostly disempowering because they invite you to be passive and disengaged. There’s so much more that we could be doing individually and collectively to help our bodies and our immune systems in order to stay healthy. We can be engaging in life in ways which support our physical health so we are not susceptible to disease, including what we are facing now. And yet the information which empowers us to take action for our wellbeing is at the very least not even mentioned.
This ‘new normal’ I believe is something to be fearful of because people are becoming afraid of each other and are starting to see each other as contagion rather than human beings. I have even heard parents referring to their children as a cesspool of germs. And they weren’t joking. Is this how we want to live?
If there wasn’t anything we could do, if we had no say in the matter, then I would be the first to accept all of what has been happening as “just something we gotta do”.
Fear is powerful. The fight/flight/freeze that our bodies do when we are feeling fear is meant to be a short term response to a threat in our environment. It is not meant to go on for over a year. Chronic stress and such a prolonged state of fear is harmful to the body and the fight/flight/freeze reaction starts to literally damage our health.
Chronic stress impairs immune function, the very thing that we need now to work for us the best it can. Prolonged fear causes breakdown of tissues in the body creating inflammation which is at the foundation of lifestyle diseases such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease. Do you not see the irony?
But when we dig deeper we see that this is an even more complicated process. The real problem is that when we feel fear, we feel it at the expense of feeling anything else. Love, compassion, trust are less accessible to us when we’re feeling fear. We can’t use our minds to think rationally when we feel fear. We become more suggestible, more coercible.
Being alive is not the same as living
The other day I was listening to a podcast episode from Charles Eisenstein called “Trusting Life”. One of the many notables was when he differentiated between “learning how to trust life” versus “finding the trust within that’s already there”.
When we feel fear, our physiology and neurology change in such a way as to disconnect us from the other resources and intelligence that we have within us. This can show up as a decreased immune response as well as feeling depressed, overwhelmed or just blah, because we’re out of touch with those things within us that make life worth living, not just surviving.
I know that when I’m working with patients in the clinic, I’m not just helping them with their physical difficulties. I’m also helping them connect to the resources within them that make life worth living: Faith, trust, a better sense of who they are and what they’re here for, passion for life and prosperity of the human spirit.
As long as we’re focused on fear or eliminating fear, we miss out on truly feeling these other gifts of life. It’s not only our birthright to experience all of the gifts that life has to offer. It is our evolutionary imperative.