Finding Balance in the Disruption

April 8, 2020 by

By Cawood Fitzhugh

Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.  Victor Frankl

Essentially, everything in my life, my family, friends and co-workers is different.  In the matter of just a few weeks, an unknown, little but mighty, virus has caused major disruption in our daily routines, customs and lives, most likely forever.  I was curious about the dictionary’s definition of disruption.  “Disruption”: is a noun “a major disturbance, something that changes your plans or interrupts some event or process”.  Wow, so major and so many!

Social distancing
Working from home
Husband working from home
Kids running around at home
Schooling now from home
Schools closed
Colleges closed
Restaurants closed
Gyms closed
Businesses closed

Coronavirus Pandemic = disruption.  COVID-19 has caused a major shift in my life from all that was known to much of what is unknown.  In the beginning, it felt slippery and unsettling.  I felt scared.   Is there a way to find balance in the midst of disruption?

In the beginning, when watching the Johns Hopkins Global Map red dots light up, I noticed a weird adrenaline rush.  Red dots and rising numbers in remote countries I knew little about.  When they moved across the Pacific to Washington State, I thought this was just an isolated event. But when the red dots showed up over Boston, I had my first direct experience with this virus.  My son-in-law is a pediatric intensive care physician in Boston.   His role and duties have changed.  My daughter, now mostly a single mom, is confined at home with two school aged children since Boston went on lock down.  My niece and her husband live in Manhattan.  Those red dots have confined them to their apartment.  My youngest daughter is a nurse.  I worry about all of their safety and their well being.

So how do I find balance in the midst of such massive disruption?  It happened last week as I joined in with others for a Zoom meditation with my mindfulness group.  I felt a “shift”.  There were so many people on my computer screen from all those countries with the red dots.  Italians, French, Spaniards, Chinese, Australians, Canadians, New Yorkers, Bostonians, Californians and many more all sitting, breathing, noticing.  It was heartwarming.

What I noticed after the tears was my own breath.  It felt good to notice my own breath again with each in breath and out breath. I had almost forgotten to breathe deeply, being so caught up in the ever changing current COVID-19 landscape.  Breathing deeply replaced the shallow breaths now.  I noticed my heart rate go down and my body felt more relaxed.  I felt a kindness towards myself and others.  We were all breathing, all sitting, all scared, all courageous, all together doing the practice, noticing the unpleasant and pleasant, the disruption and balance, both/and in this one moment.  As I became more present with my own breath, I noticed the shift from fear of the unknown to appreciation for the known.  In this moment, I was breathing, I didn’t have a fever, I could sit. I could breathe.  I could breathe in and then breathe out.  Moment by moment, each moment a new appreciation came for the breath, for this moment, this sitting – right here, right now.

The silver lining of this horrible pandemic is that it provides opportunities for creativity, thinking outside of the box, new discoveries, new research, new vaccines, new ways of demonstrating kindness to ourselves and to others. It provides opportunities for personal growth.

Victor Frankl knew from his own life’s direct experience.  He shares his wisdom in his famous quote “Between the stimulus and the response, there is a space.  In that space is our power to choose how we want to respond.”

There is a way to find balance in the disruption and to find the pleasant in the unpleasant.  It’s not always easy nor is it invited in, but when we are able to “sit” with it, acknowledge what is, and soften around it, in our response, lies our growth and ultimately our freedom.

Social Distancing ( Haiku )
Hearts beat together
Whilst our bodies are apart
We are not alone.
~Peter Morgan

Filed Under: Monthly Musings