In the midst of uncertainty and concern, there is a lot that has been weighing on my heart and soul. I can imagine it is the same for many of you too.
While concern is one of those feelings, I am intentionally making room for inner peace and gratitude. I wholeheartedly believe that it is during these troubled times that we as a collective society can come closer to peace and gratitude. I believe that our human kindness is far more contagious than a novel virus.
When I think of peace, I imagine one of the most important elements for human existence. For me, peace means and comes in the form of inner peace. When I think of gratitude, it presents itself as human solidarity and kindness.
Inner peace is the feeling that many people crave and that few really live. Gratitude means that you are ready to show appreciation and return human kindness. The reality is that in these uncertain times we live in, cultivating inner peace and gratitude can make a big difference when it comes to preventing the coronavirus from spreading.
Peace to me is complete serenity and freedom from fear. Gratitude is the lack of needing or wanting; the inability to identify with material possessions. I can only achieve peace of mind and gratitude when I am fully present in the moment, when I surrender to what is and what will be.
It is important to realize that finding inner peace and gratitude depends entirely on oneself and that it is a process that stems from inner silence. Interestingly, many people find it difficult to be silent. The truth for me, is that being silent is a wonderful thing, because it is a great opportunity to realize what really lies within us, to evaluate what we are doing with our lives and whether the course we are taking is what we want or not.
Silence not only helps me cultivate inner peace, but also helps me connect with my inner self and to others, find solutions to problems, and listen to guidance. Most importantly, it helps me live in the present while cleaning up the mental and emotional clutter that houses within, to give way to feelings and emotions that help us feel and live better to make this world a peaceful place.
Finding individual inner peace and gratitude is a first step on the path to achieving and embracing social distancing. I encourage you to begin with any of the following: create art and share it on social media, give someone you love a call, buy a gift card from your local business, listen to a podcast, read a book, be kind, help someone in need, when shopping- take only what you need, love, meditate, and see the beauty around the world… even if right at this moment we are in the midst of uncertain times.
I also encourage you to join in solidarity with those individuals that are working around the clock to ensure we are safe. Understand that funding our health infrastructure, science and education is critical.
In order to overcome this challenge, inner peace and our beautiful spirit of human solidarity should become more infectious than the coronavirus.
Rocio Ayard Ochoa is Director of the Multicultural Center at Western Illinois University.
The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the University or Tri States Public Radio. Diverse viewpoints are welcomed and encouraged.