When people are faced with a health crisis, they often find, in due time, that their challenges are actually offering them an opportunity to make changes that may bring unexpected blessings.
While no sane person would actually invite the pain of serious illness, in our naturopathic medical practice we’ve been deeply inspired over the years by how often our patients end up feeling thankful for the changes that illness can bring.
These experiences lead us to wonder if it’s realistic to hope that COVID might result in similar reflection and positive change.
On the negative side, COVID has uncovered a dark underbelly of our culture that has manifested as divisive discourse, dysfunctional politics, social and economic inequality, a widespread absence of attunement to higher ideals, and a lack of “solution-consciousness.”
It’s sobering to consider how these symptoms have signaled the fall of great civilizations of the past.
On the other hand, COVID has also evoked a stunning array of creative solutions – by individuals, in business, and through compassionate social activism. Covid has brought the first small signs of a clear understanding of how we can effect widespread positive change.
My experience of the pandemic is tightly linked to my work as a naturopathic physician and my life as a member of Ananda, an intentional spiritual community and spiritual center in Palo Alto, California.
There were few cases of COVID among my long-term patients or in my residential community, until masking and social-distancing requirements were dropped just as the virus mutated yet again and became much more transmissible.
The naturopathic approach to the pandemic is in stark contrast to the emphasis on pharmaceutical management of diseases that has given us the most expensive and inefficient “health care” system in the developed world.
While quarantining prevented further spread of the disease, it did nothing to treat the illness itself, despite the existence of both conventional and complementary antivirals and approaches to treating the inflammation, vascular instability, and respiratory and neurologic issues caused by the virus.
Beyond physical solutions, the community where I live promptly and very effectively addressed key issues that threatened to affect our all-around well-being as we faced the pandemic.
The people of the Ananda communities practice daily meditation, prayer, affirmation, chanting, and breathing and movement exercises. These practices enhance our mental, emotional, and physical health, while promoting a sense of inner calmness, harmony, and attitudes of service and co-operation.
In the community and Sangha, we quickly began organizing socially distanced activities that greatly reduced the anxiety, depression, and sense of isolation and loneliness that people can experience when they must live without a vibrant social support network.
The natural, unforced friendships in the community spawned the creation of a monetary fund to help those in need, through contributions from those who could afford to give.
The universal spiritual teachings of Ananda encourage us to adjust our inner response to life’s challenges. Were we harboring unproductive attitudes of anger, divisiveness, and fear? Or were we consciously deepening our inner communion with Spirit as preparation to extend our loving help to those in need?
If history has one important lesson to teach us about facing major challenges like COVID, it is that widespread positive changes always begin with the individual and only then start to spread outward through small groups to the whole world.
As our spiritual teacher, Paramhansa Yogananda, said, “Change yourself and you have done your part in changing the world.”
For information about the services we offer at Pacific Naturopathic, please give us a call at 650-961-1660. You can also use the convenient Contact Form to get in touch, or follow the link to: Consultations – Pacific Naturopathic. Thank you!