How Coronavirus has helped me practice acceptance
“If you are invested in security and certainty you are on the wrong planet.” – Pema Chodron
On the 20th of March 2020 I made the decision to close the doors of my spa and wellness business for the foreseeable future. It wasn’t because it was a failing business, it wasn’t because I’d had enough of running a company. The complete opposite was in fact true. The reason behind such a monumental decision was because Coronavirus had started to spread in the United Kingdom. I had been closely watching the unprecedented impact the virus was having in China and Italy, and I felt because of this I had a duty of care for both my staff and my customers. Three days after I had announced my decision publicly the UK government ordered spa businesses to close anyway.
I had launched the business in 2008 after taking it on as an ongoing concern from someone who it later transpired had lied about it’s success. Despite her presenting accounts that showed the business in a healthy profit, it was in fact haemorrhaging money. Three months after I had bought it the global recession also hit. The next twelve years saw me throw every ounce of my energy, time, commitment, dedication, hard work and drive into that business. Often putting the business needs before holidays, a social life and even my family. I would often also place my staffs financial gain before my own. For four years I slept on my office floor above the treatment rooms at night because I couldn’t afford to put petrol in my car to drive back to my home in London every day. That business was my life.
But the decision to close it was a relatively straight forward one in many respects, even though I knew it could be for many months, and that I would mean I would have no income coming in to pay my bills.
The fact that it was relatively easy was because of two things.
Ethics and acceptance.
Our ethics are the foundations that we stand upon.
I knew the ethical thing to do was to protect human life. This wasn’t being melodramatic or an over reaction to the truth. People were dying all over the world at an unprecedented rate due to the severity of the virus and the rate that it was spreading. Would I feel comfortable if a member of my staff caught it and became seriously ill, or even worse that they passed it on to someone more vulnerable them who then died? The answer was a clear no. My financial needs were quite frankly far less important than preventing another person from becoming life threateningly ill.
I’ve learned to walk a path of least resistance.
The only two real certainties in life is that change is inevitable and one day we will die. And yet as human beings we spend so much of our lives in denial of both. We resist the truth surrounding them, pushing it as far away as possible at any given opportunity.
When we are children we are brought up to believe in many respects everything is within our control, and just by being in control of our life we will experience more happiness. But as we get older and life starts to unfold, we begin to realise only some things are within our control and cultivating a controlling out look on life doesn’t in fact bring you more happiness, it actually causes you to experience more suffering. Why? Because in grasping on to control we in fact become less adaptable to events that are outside of it.
Life will constantly throw change in our path. Some of those changes will be instigated by ourselves, but others are brought to us unexpectedly. Unexpected changes can bring about feelings of uncertainty and fear, usually a fear of the unknown. And when fear arises we tend to want to push that away too, it makes us feel uncomfortable so we try to resist it.
When we start to become engulfed in our fear it can cause us to start looking towards others to blame for our suffering. We can develop a victim mindset, repeatedly telling ourselves how unfair our situation is. We spend so much energy on wanting to resist our pain, that we loose the opportunity to focus on using that energy in learning to cultivate an ability to in fact practice total acceptance of what is. This may include looking honestly at any responsibility we may have played in the challenge we are facing.
When I closed my spa doors that evening in March, I was sure of two things, I couldn’t control the impact that Coronavirus was about to have on my life, but I could practice complete acceptance of it. Letting myself have room for the unknowing, helped soften the impact of my emotions surrounding it.
As I drove home that night after calling my local garage to cancel a service that my car was booked in for the next day. Explaining to the receptionist that I had just closed my business for the foreseeable future, so I now had no means of paying for the work, I told myself that no matter the immense uncertainty I felt about the future ahead and the complete unknown of how everything would pan out, practicing acceptance of the situation would actually gift me with not only a calmer mind but also the ability to approach the whole situation with more resilience. It could have been very easy for me to have slipped into a space of self pity and despair. Telling myself how unfair the whole situation was. How I didn’t deserve this to happen to me.
But the truth is, life IS unfair. None of us entered this world with a signed agreement that our life would always be fair. So why is that we so often choose to slip into that victim mindset when life suddenly does become unfair? A space that just empowers the anxious and unjust mind. Instead, would it not be more productive to simply start to cultivate an awareness that challenging times are simply a part of life? Where there is yin there is yang.
Choosing to approach our life experiences with less resistance, enables us to see things more clearly. It stops us from drifting into a space of self pity and enables us to look at our options with more clarity. It gifts us with an ability to see things as they truly are, without becoming consumed by emotions that may surround the experiences we have.
Approaching change with complete acceptance of what is, actually helps us move forward. It helps us navigate through challenging experiences with more ease and more fluidity.
Eight weeks on from closing my spa doors, the business remains shut and I still do not know what the future holds. But what I am certain of, is this whole crazy situation continues to be a very powerful teacher of the benefits of walking a path of least resistance.