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Five Ways the COVID-19 Crisis can Help You Spiritually Evolve

Posted by on March 22, 2020 in Conscious Evolution, Conscious Living, Thrive with 0 Comments

By Forrest Rivers


Let’s face it. The world is in a panic about the COVID-19 pandemic. In response to this still-emerging global outbreak schools and universities have either shut down or been forced to shift to remote classes, government buildings have been shuttered, restaurants and bars have been closed indefinitely and many billions of people have been forced to self-quarantine amidst an increasingly chaotic environment that has some questioning if we are witnessing the wide-scale collapse of our social orders. There is no doubt that the human health threat of the Corona Virus is both real and alarming. Perhaps, just as concerning, is the negative economic impact on the poor from all the forced closures and hits that the service industry has already endured. Adding to all the turmoil, is a general climate of fear that has found its collective expression in panic buying at grocery stores, massive unrest in global financial markets and extreme totalitarian measures (perhaps overreactions?) being taken by governments around the world to contain the virus.

Fortunately, for us all, there are glimmers of hope that have emerged from this pandemic. If we can allow ourselves to be with what is, our response to COVID-19 can provide us with ample and profound opportunities for spiritual growth. Below, is a list of five ways that we can inwardly evolve in these troubled times….

1. We can use COVID-19 as a meaningful Contemplation on Death:

A hallmark of any global pandemic is the media’s emphasis on the number of dead and dying. Undoubtedly, the repetition of mounting death tolls from the disease can produce deep anxiety and fear among the global public. However, if we shift our perspective just a bit, the existential threat that COVID-19 now represents provides us all with a wonderful opportunity to confront our own fears of death. Why is confronting this intrinsic fear so important? Many seekers within the Buddhist tradition believe that making peace with the inevitability of our own death is among the highest spiritual practices we can pursue. For when we transcend our own fear of death, we unlock the sacred gate to living more freely and fully in the present moment. When we live more freely and fully, we follow our dharma and all of the human benefits. This virus provides ample opportunity for such reflection!

2. The fallout from this Disease Provides Opportunities to Serve the Elderly and Poor:


Unquestionably, the rapid spread and fallout from COVID-19 present a direct threat to the welfare of all global citizens. However, two very large demographics are at an especially heightened risk. Elderly people (those above 60 years old) and poor people are facing particularly difficult times. Due to advancing age and weaker immune system function, the elderly are at a much higher risk of dying from this infection. On the other hand, highly restrictive lockdown protocols by world governments have had the impact of grinding the world’s economy to a halt. Unsurprisingly, it is the poor and working-class who have faced the brunt of economic shutdowns to contain the virus. Bartenders, restaurant and retail workers, flight attendants, custodial staff, small business owners and even many teachers are the ones paying the price of our governments’ draconian health measures through a wave of massive job layoffs and frightening financial insecurity not seen since the start of the Great Depression in 1929. Now is a great time to rediscover our compassion as one people and step up to alleviate the suffering of all those who are most vulnerable among us. After all, Krishna, a God incarnate within the Hindu Tradition, once counseled his beloved Devotee, Arjuna, that karma yoga (the spirit of selfless service) is among the surest path to personal truth and enlightenment. Today, service to those who are vulnerable is imperative. 

3. Through “Social Distancing” we can Reconnect with Nature and Art

In governments’ attempts to control the spread of COVID-19, the world has been advised to avoid large crowds and gatherings, stand six feet away from people and to self-quarantine at the immediate onset of symptoms. In places like Italy and China (are Canada and the US next?) citizens have even been forced by militarized authorities to remain confined in their homes with exceptions of trips to grocery stores or pharmacies. While Social distancing is far from ideal (greater isolation and increased cases of depression), the time alone and away from work may wind up providing us with ample time to re-connect with the natural world and to explore our creative outlets. As a regular hiker and lover of the Earth, I have noticed how many more people have taken advantage of this forced period of isolation to take to the woods and explore the beauty of nature. As the capitalist machine grinds to a halt, wouldn’t it be wonderful if our Earth Mother emerges once more at the forefront of our awareness? Similarly, social distancing also provides an ideal environment for self-reflection and exploration to delve into a plethora of creative outlets. It certainly wouldn’t be a surprise if the enforced solitude caused by this pandemic wind up breeding a renaissance of creative expression…. the likes of which we have not seen since the hippie counterculture of the 1960s.

4. COVID-19 Presents an opportunity to Recognize our Sense of Oneness

Since the turn of the new millennium, it seems like the human race has been deeply embroiled in sectarian conflicts and hopelessly divided by ethnic, racial, religious, national and political divisions. In short, much of humanity has forgotten that there is much more that unites us then separates us. Indeed, as the wise Ram Dass once noted, “we are here to awaken from the illusion of separateness.” The universal threat that COVID-19 presents to all human beings presents us with a rare and beautiful opportunity to see past our superficial differences. The existential fear that this virus provokes is a powerful emotion that we all now share regardless of what corner of the world we reside in. With this basic understanding comes a higher spiritual realization that we all share in one another’s’ suffering and joy and that we are all tied together in a vast cosmic web. In short, this crisis may very well help us recover our sense of common humanity. If we can learn to adopt this perspective throughout these tumultuous times, the odds are good that we can also begin to identify and redress the very serious societal injustices that exist within our cultures when the scourge does finally pass. 

5. Anxiety from COVID-19 Can Be Harnessed into starting a Meditation Practice

The anxiety that people (particularly the elderly and those with compromised immune systems) are feeling from this pandemic is understandable. However, what if the anxiety that many are rightfully feeling can be channeled into more positive ends that promote lasting and meaningful spiritual growth? Enter the ancient and eastern practice of meditation. The extreme existential fear that we are now facing (see point one) may inevitably lead many people to look within and seek some semblance of inner peace amidst the onslaught of a panic-driven media. Thankfully, the times are ripe for all of us to establish a daily meditation practice of stilling our minds, opening our hearts and surrendering to the present moment. Further, the unique conditions of self-quarantining, coupled with a high anxiety environment and unprecedented access to online meditation resources lends itself to the emergence of a “meditation evolution,” among the world’s populace. A profound and inspiring movement toward inner peace and enlightenment could be one remarkable outcome from COVID-19. And, meditation could very well be the channel by which many seekers ascend into the higher states of planetary consciousness. 

Author Bio:

Forrest Rivers is a lover of the Earth and author of the book: The Hippie Revival and Collected Writings(https://www.amazon.com/Hippie-Revival-Collected-Writings/dp/1515396959). He lives in the beautiful Rocky Mountains of Colorado. Feel free to reach out to Forrest through email: forrestrivers4@gmail.com or leave a message on his website: forrestrivers.com

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