Jonathan Gavin is 34 years old and a resident of Templehall Kirkcaldy. He is a member of the Grassmarket drama group which runs at the Linton Lane Centre. He lists his interests as studying and self-inquiry, walking in nature, socialising, exercising, discovering new people, places and practices. His main interest is writing. This is is the first in a planned series of blogs where Jonny will be looking at various aspects of life and hoping to connect with others.
How to start this? With Honesty. My plan was to start this blog, on surviving and thriving the pandemic with some basic techniques we can use, as individuals within a community, to help us adapt and maintain well-being in these times. No problems, I had it covered…..
…..or did I? When the lock-down first started I was thrown off my normal rhythm of life, as we all were. This is an important year for me, a key time in my life. I am growing and maturing within myself, healing, discovering my meaning and purpose in life and laying important foundations, creating stability I had previously lacked.
Suddenly my life I was building was stripped and many positive and essential elements were suddenly not present. This shook me up and my mood dipped. Significantly I bounced back quickly. Life found a new rhythm. One that was actually pleasant and often joyful despite the circumstances.
Why? When in the past I would probably have struggled, did it seem that I was not only surviving but thriving. Exactly because of this process of self-discovery and the conscious laying of a core foundation. Importantly I was reminded it is okay we are not okay, sometimes. Storms come, but they pass.
So, in these series of blogs I would like to discuss and put forward ideas on how we can survive and, also thrive the lock-down. My posts can be a thread, and members of the community can add their own ideas and expressions also, hopefully picking up shared ideas we can carry forward with us, beyond the current situation.
Upon reflection on recent events I realised my rock, from the very start was an insight and I suppose and affirmation, which I understand now can be a powerful tool which I can apply to my life as a whole. This was that we can go through this pandemic with fear or no-fear, or if that sounds a bit arrogant, with minimum fear rather than maximum fear.
What is fear then? And why do I feel it will not serve us in this predicament?
Millennia ago, fear served us well triggering a flight or fight mechanism that would aid us in times of danger. This would usually only last for short bursts of time, but today fear can often linger, and we find ourselves living in a fear-state. The reason this can hinder us is that the body’s innate intelligence will prioritise functions and redirect energy from others. So, to give an example: An ancient human ancestor has a flu virus, so the immune system kicks in to deal with it. However, our forebearer spots a predator, a saber-tooth tiger maybe, on the open plains. The body must prioritise the fear response which will trigger the adrenalin needed to run from the immediate danger, so energy is diverted from the immune system so they can run to safety. When safe and no longer in fear the immune system is restored to full and continues to fight off the virus threat. Therefore, fear does not serve us during a pandemic as the fear-state compromises our immune system and makes us not only more likely to get covid-19 but suffer worse from it also.
Now, I do not consume much mainstream media but from what I have seen, a lot if it seems to, especially the news under the global lock-down, put out information on what I would call a fear frequency. I understand much of this propaganda is to scare citizens into complying with the lock-down. But, by causing a constant level of fear this will have negative repercussions not only on physical but mental health. Many people I have spoken to say they only watch one piece of news a day to keep up with events but not be overwhelmed. I personally source my media from many areas and this seems to help.
One phenomenon I did notice, especially at the start of the lock-down, was a fear grow in people towards others. For some, another person on the street became less to them a human being but a potential carrier of the virus. They became Other, and this again breeds fear.
I spend a lot of time walking and one little but effective thing I have got in the habit of doing when out is making sure to say hello to anybody and everybody I see. This positive interaction between two beings can be, I have come to find, a powerful way to easily dispel fear and can have other benefits too.
On a personal level, and example of the multitude of ways in which fear (and desire, it’s opposite) can affect us, is that even in the writing of this 1st blog I went through apathy, distractions and even as I finally gave myself a deadline, the loosing of all my notes and research on fear. All resulting from my own fear of failure, etc. Using a mindfulness meditation, I grounded myself in the moment, did not panic as I may have and decided I would write this off the top of my head. It was okay that all was not perfect. I can finally send this off…
…however, having got down to the root of the fear ‘problem’, we need solutions and effective remedies, so alongside this initial blog I plan to have a mindfulness exercise for fear, references on sources for those who wish to find out more on the subject, a useful exercise to help with anxiety and fear from a counselor and a list of my daily survival essentials.
May everyone have a positive week and a big thank you for helping me overcome my own fear.