Compassionate Immunity in Time of the Emergency

            This is an exquisite time to be practicing alignment. Reports of people acting out their frustration by blaming Asians for the virus, and reports of so many healthcare workers stretched to the max and falling ill point to fundamental misalignments of the second chakra.

            The spiritual adept Hilda Charlton used to say in such times, “This is your opportunity, kids!”

             Well, an opportunity for what?  In terms of the second chakra, it may have to do with the dance between the individual and the community, between isolation and belonging, as we are called to deepen and revision our understanding and enactment of community.

The Second Chakra

The second chakra resonates with the energies of feeling and passion, as well as with the sticky webs of our connections with others. It is associated with our family and collective histories as well. Since all of these areas are now being activated in such a powerful way, it can be a good time to get connected to what we really feel and care about. Remembering that any feeling can propel you into alignment whereas numbness cannot, our first opportunity here may be to lift off the veneer of “psychic numbing” that greases the wheels of “business as usual.”

By the grace of Covid 19, it is impossible to continue with “business as usual.”  Even though about 150,000 people die every day on planet earth, the prospects of being personally effected by loss – whether health related or connected to the collapse of the economy right in front of our eyes – is a tremendous wake up call to “Come down to where we aught to be,” as the Shakers put it. This is the humus, the humility of coming down to earth.  Moreover, being suddenly relieved (or perhaps liberated from) the treadmill of work/money/buy/pay/etc. we can connect to what is really important in our lives.

As Abraham Maslow articulated some fifty years ago (and Tantric texts on the chakra system have articulated a thousand plus years ago), there is a hierarchy of human needs. Once you’ve got your toilet paper and food stores, once you have done all you can to protect your family and loved ones, once you’ve done what you can do to keep your business afloat, then what? Perhaps one unexpected result of social distancing and isolation is that you still find yourself with time on your hands, time to realign and focus on what will energize you as a being doing the earth walk. But can we tolerate such leisure time? Can we practice living off of the treadmill?


It has been almost eighty years since the psychoanalyst Erich Fromm published Escape from Freedom, in which he articulated how the seductions of collective fascism and lonely individualism play off one another. People flee the hive mentality where everyone has to think and speak the same way or else, only to find themselves moored on the beach of loneliness. Fromm foresaw that the task of the coming era was to recreate communities that also allowed for the freedom of the individual.

This may be the focal point of our opportunity; to “isolate” and be afraid of “catching the virus” dooms you to an existence based on nothing but self-preservation. On the other hand, to mix with everyone in an indiscriminate way, almost assures you of getting sick. How are we learning to be together, to care for one another, while also caring for ourselves?

I have written in Creating the Work You Love about a toxicologist who was doing volunteer work in the Sudan. He would work from nine to five every day, and then go hang out and dine with the locals. Other doctors grumbled about him as they worked themselves to he bone. The average span of medical volunteers in the Sudan, however, was five months. This particular doctor worked there for five years!

One unintended result of the Covid quarantine is that we are being moved to connect with like-minded souls in new ways. We can resource, inform, and serve one another through heretofore, unimagined networks. This is real! An acquaintance of mine suffered a heart attack and needed to have a stent placed in one artery to keep it open. A few years later, his cardiologist found that the stent was not working, and did not need to work, because the artery had grown new pathways for the blood to flow.

Our businesses are interrupted, as are our purchasing and daily social excursions. What if this is an opportunity to do things in new ways; to create new networks and to develop authentic resolve to focus on what we really care about? This is real chance to slow down and disconnect from the machine of habitual unconsciousness. In fact, we may even be inspired to stay slow when we realize what is actually important and actually experience the more spacious, enjoyable, and life affirming reality of less frenetic activity and more space and time.

Likewise in cases where people are not economically secure during this period of forced unemployment, new networks can also emerge. I have been told about a Facebook community, “Kingston Community Aid,” where people who cannot afford the copays on their prescription medication, or who’ve lost healthcare altogether, can post their need, and others are responding by directly Venmo-ing them the money they need (Thanks to Oshan Jarow for this info.).

The second chakra holds our family histories, and their deep memories of scarcity and deprivation. These memories may now burst open, and the opportunity is to track them, to become aware of them, so that we can choose a new pathway for our energy to flow. Indeed, fear and anxiety can be excellent diagnostic tools to see exactly where you are and where you are clinging. In fact, this entire situation may be envisioned as a most “worthy adversary,“ helping us to relearn what it means to care and what it means to be free. I am by no means making light of the very real suffering happening here and now. However, we can complain and blame or use this as an opportunity to connect and care, to decentralize, and to bear the heat that will bring out the best in us.


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