Back in March of 2020, I wrote a blog post called “The Coronavirus from a Yogic Perspective.” It was one of the most popular pieces I’ve written, having been shared over 1,000 times and having been read by tens of thousands of people. Why? Because back then, it was really confusing to know what to do. We’d never been through a pandemic before, there was a tremendous amount of uncertainty, and some of the things that we’ve subsequently gotten used to, like lockdowns, curfews, and mask-wearing, seemed straight out of a horror movie.
Now we face a new set of firsts as the restrictions that have kept us mostly at home are starting to ease. How do we handle re-entry now that the pandemic is getting under control at least in some places? The good news is that yogic philosophy gives us a framework for situations like these.
As outlined in my first post, yogically, we are trained to make decisions from a place called “ the neutral mind.” There are three yogic mind centers: positive mind, negative mind, and neutral mind. Ideally, we activate and use all three minds, but the best decisions come from a place of neutrality. This neutrality helps maintain balance.
Below is an overview of these three mind states and how they might influence your decisions relating to re-entry in a post-pandemic world.
Positive mind: Finally things are reopening, and I can travel again! I AM BACK! I’m going to make up for lost time by booking more trips than I’ve ever made in one year. I’m also going to start organizing parties for my friends so we can meet up all at once to catch up. It’s been a long 14 months, and I’m thrilled we can finally put all this behind us. I really look forward to the day when we just stop talking about the pandemic altogether. It can be like a thing of the past that never happened… And for my friends who seem hesitant to get together, I’ll just push them a little. They’re stuck in their thinking, and it’s my job to help them move forward.
Negative mind: Things may be opening up, but I’m not sure it’s safe so I’m staying home. You really can’t be too cautious about these things and even vaccinated, you can still catch the virus. I read the protection is around 95 percent which just leaves too much exposure to consider going out. And then there is the fact you can spread the virus even if vaccinated. It’s still way too risky. I’ll sit it out these next few months and see what happens. I really wish my friends would quit inviting me to meet up. Don’t they realize the dangers? I’m carefully tracking the variants because I bet there will be one that will turn out to be vaccine-resistant. And I’m waiting for the reports that prove the vaccines are just as deadly as the virus. I’m pretty sure that is what’s coming next so I’ll double up on my efforts to warn my friends and family about all the risks out there. They just don’t seem to be listening so I guess it’s up to me to help them understand.
Neutral mind: I understand we’ve been through a collective trauma, and everyone is responding differently. I’m going to keep checking in with myself to see what feels comfortable and appropriate for me. I recognize the need to balance my impulse to try to go “back to the way it was” with my inertia to stay at home like we’ve done for the last months. I realize we will never go back, we will only go forward, and we are in a process of rebuilding with a different foundation. I know the “new normal” can only be established by cautious experimentation. I’ll accept an invite or two to get together with my friends, but I’ll space them out so I can see how I feel afterward. I’ll book my first trip but I won’t start with a transatlantic 15-hour flight. I’ll start with something a bit closer to home and then build up. And I’ll try to act with compassion with people who are having different responses. We’ve gone through a shared event, but circumstances were really different for everyone, and it’s not my place to say how someone else should be thinking, feeling, or behaving.
I write this because I observe a wide spectrum of responses and behavior right now. No two people have had the same pandemic experience. We each have different personal histories, individual temperaments, unique life circumstances, and a variety of other factors. What we share is that it has been a very intense 14 months. People died, jobs were lost, relationships shattered. And people came together, new industries sprang up, connections were forged. Some of you are coming out of this stronger and more balanced than ever. Some of you have had your lives have been turned upside down, and you are just barely staying afloat. It has been a profound lesson in dealing with a global crisis and tolerating the unknown. It is also a great opportunity to see how much uncertainty you can tolerate and how much compassion you can access.