The Coronavirus crisis has changed the lives of millions and millions of people of every ethnicity, culture, social condition, religion or belief in the matter of just a few days. There are already more than one million infected people and 62 thousands of lives lost. The numbers are growing, the epidemic is knocking on our doors with increasing fury.
In the hope that it may help, we would like to share with the reader ten spiritual tips to deal with this difficult and complicated time that humanity is going through.
The suggestions are the result of a fruitful virtual conversation.
1) Accept the crisis. Even if it is very difficult, especially when infections and deaths affect our very own families, a crisis is not overcome personally until it is fully accepted with all its tragedy and all its consequences. Accepting it does not imply having a passive or indifferent attitude. Accepting is much more than tolerating, persevering, or being patient. Acceptance requires understanding. Accepting the crisis means understanding that it can bear fruit in personal and collective development; it means seeing the many benefits it can bring in the short, medium, or long term for humanity.
2) Crisis as an opportunity. Acceptance allows us to see the crisis as an opportunity, insofar as it implies a sudden acceleration in the level of individual and collective consciousness, as well as an increase in the pace of personal growth and development of peoples and humanity. Serious crises become great engines for humanity: they lead to greater growing because each person is asked to give the best of himself or herself. Without a profound social crisis, neither Gandhi, nor Martin Luther King, nor Nelson Mandela, nor Mother Teresa of Calcutta, nor Oscar Romero would have become true champions in the field of human rights.
3) Elevate the spirit. Human beings can operate from their biological, emotional, rational, or spiritual dimension. Crises help human beings to discover their highest dimension – the spiritual dimension – to find a deeper peace in the midst of truly tragic situations and to acquire a much more complete awareness of reality. The human person, fundamentally, lives spirituality through silence and contemplation, meditation and prayer. Living spirituality helps to give more value to the vital than the superfluous, to the eternal rather than the temporal, to the soul rather than matter, to love rather than pleasure, to gratuitousness rather than riches, and leads one to think more about giving than about receiving.
4) Spirit of service. Crises lead to a development of acts of service to others because they generate urgent needs. Crises produce a chain multiplication of acts of solidarity among human beings. People strengthen bonds between each other and unite their intentions. This necessary spirit of service involves taking care of oneself in order to be a good instrument of help for others. Therefore, a proper spirit of service knows how to protect itself, not selfishly, but in solidarity, in order to regain strength and to be able to continue serving. This is fundamentally important for health care workers. Otherwise, it is easy to become exhausted, which always leads to an increase in the social affliction.
5) Prudence, not fear. Proper crisis management requires learning the distinction between prudence and fear. Prudence is a spiritual resource and does not consume vital energy; fear is emotional and sweeps away our energy. Prudence in the face of crisis leads to the fulfilment of the government’s indications and the health authorities that manage it. It is a source of great peace. Fear, on the other hand, paralyses, subtracts from, and in no way contributes to the end of the pandemic.
6) Manage the uncertainty. The crisis helps us to learn how to live in times of uncertainty, which implies a high degree of personal detachment and abandonment to Divine Providence. One of the fundamental needs of the ego, which we all have, is the desire to control things - to be secure. This crisis humiliates human egocentricity, because if it shows us anything at all, it is that human beings do not control the planet, not even of a piece of it - even less of the universe.
7) Taking care of human relationships. The crisis is a great opportunity to improve our relationships with those closest to us. The confinement to which so many millions of people are subjected forces many to live with their loved ones, sometimes in small spaces and with limited means. Confinement generates tension. Respect, good humor, and forgiveness in human relationships fill our homes and make them worthy and noble households, suitable for family living together.
8) Victim on the run. It is one thing to be a victim of coronavirus and another to fall into victimhood: being a victim of the coronavirus is a fact; victimhood, on the other hand, is an attitude, a way of behaving unduly affected. A victim is one who escapes responsibility for the coronavirus crisis, who believes that the measures taken by governments are authoritarian impositions, who blames others as potential transmitters, while forgetting that he may himself be a risk factor, or who seeks excessive compassion without having any for others.
9) Live in the present. The crisis helps us to live the present moment with great intensity, without looking at the past with melancholy or into the future with anxiety. Living in “the here and now” is the best way to spend time and bring out the best in ourselves. Focusing on what you do at all times is a great source of inner and outer - individual and collective - wealth.
10) Maintain high vital energy. You only have to look at a person to see their vital energy level, which has little to do with physical health or material well-being. A coronavirus patient who forgives his transmitter, who smiles at the health care worker who takes care of him, who isolates himself without considering himself a victim, who takes advantage of his own isolation to unite himself intimately with God and others, is spreading vital energy around him – like those healthy people who serenely accept the limits imposed by the crisis, their own and others' mistakes, who applaud health workers for their efforts every night.
Remember that your smile helps us to overcome this crisis.
Published by courtesy of its authors and of CNN Spanish, where the article has first appeared on March, 25.
Rafael Domingo Oslé is a professor at the Center for Law and Religion at Emory University (Atlanta)
Gonzalo Rodríguez-Fraile has an MBA from Harvard Business School and is an entrepreneur.