Undoubtedly, the present situation is alarming. As I write this, more than 138,000 people across the globe have been infected by the coronavirus [COVID19]. Health systems across the globe are over-stressed, economies are deeply affected, people – especially daily-wage laborers are severely impacted. These are certainly worrying from a macro perspective. Many people see a replay of the 2008 financial crisis and are worried that their lives may be fundamentally altered. We do not know if economies will bounce back, stock markets (and people’s wealth) will be restored or if social ties will be transformed by this pernicious virus. It might be too early to tell. But what this virus can do and indeed is doing is to colonize our minds. COVID-19 is multiplying itself as fear and anxiety in minds and this helps no one.
In times of crisis such as this, we are constantly bombarded by news on a minute to minute basis on the seriousness of the situation. While news in important to each one of us and helps us stay aware and take necessary action (or inaction in this case), an overdose of news can be counterproductive to keeping us sane and calm. This is where we urgently need help from trained practitioners to deal with our own minds. We need psychologists, meditators, self-help people, teachers, gurus and any motivated people to help people feel secure and help let go of the anxiety and panic. I have people in my own family who are feeling lost, disoriented and helpless in this situation. And this destroys who we are as humans – an incredibly resilient species capable of love, compassion and sharing happiness.
Policy makers cannot even attempt to address this issue at the moment – there are larger and immediate fires to put out. We certainly need to ensure greater number of hospital beds, greater medical services and testing kits. This is where communities, meditators, mental health professionals and anybody who is strong can step up to provide counselling help to those who need it. All we need to do is look around us and speak to people. Ask them how they are doing. Often, just listening can go a long way in ameliorating our fears.
So, pick up the phone or get on skype and call your friends, family, neighbors, co-workers or whoever it may be and ask them “Are you alright”? We don’t know when and if the virus can be halted, but we can halt the spread of fear in the minds of our people.