In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, I remind you to calm yourself, take a deep breath and put one foot in front of the other. Look at the light and look for the light workers when times are dark.
These days, I’ve been doing a lot of walking. I wake up when the sun rises, drink my lemon water and either sit in silence or listen to a meditation for at least 15 minutes, then I slip into my sneakers and put one foot in front of the other.
Walking has been an oxygen mask for me during the darkest times of my life. Like when I lost four family members in about a year’s time. Or when I was laid off from what I thought was a dream job in TV. Or the time my brother-in-law committed suicide and my 8-year-old niece discovered his bloodied body.
Whenever I practice mindful walking, putting one foot in front of the other and feeling the earth beneath me, I am reminded that when I worry about things — a work-related meeting, my finances, any of my current woes — the present moment is being stolen away from me. Though I may be physically on a beach, I’m not soaking in the backdrop of the Golden Gate Bridge, Marin Headlands and the glorious sky.
Instead of waking up in the morning and immediately checking social media, I have been practicing this meditation and walking ritual daily.
When the news of the coronavirus outbreak broke, I noticed a direct correlation with my consumption of social media and media and feelings of panic that made me manic and created heart palpitations and negative thought bubble vortexes.
But right as I notice these feelings surge in my veins, I stop, breathe and am OK. When focusing on my breath isn’t enough, I take another walk. Motion is lotion, as they say, in the world of athletics and exercise.
On a visit to San Francisco’s Chinatown yesterday, I couldn’t help but record my thoughts in this walking video diary. My goal is to share what I’ve downloaded mentally and spiritually as I strolled though the nation’s oldest Chinatown. I’ve been feverishly thinking about how to quell the manic panic. Here are three things we can do to calm our body, mind and spirit.
1. STAY CALM AND STICK TO THE FACTS, Y’ALL
It’s easy to get swept into the vortex of misinformation, so check your facts before sharing stories, otherwise, you’re adding to the hysteria and fear. It will also help you make informed decisions on day-to-day activities. I don’t get the toilet paper hoarding here in the U.S. or the stockpiling of masks. This creates a shortage for people to clean their bums and for those who need masks to avoid spreading germs. Knowledge is power, so when you have the facts, you take action from a calmer perspective.
The coronavirus has sparked an outbreak of racist sentiments and attacks on Asians around the world, from patients refusing to be treated by Asian doctors to an irate New York City subway passenger spraying an Asian man with air freshener, to a 23-year-old Singaporean man who was attack by a group of people in the U.K.
Remember, we are all human beings sharing this life experience. When we are scared, it can be easy to blame one group for the problems we are facing.
This article on “How to Keep the Greater Good in Mind During the Coronavirus Outbreak” from the Greater Good Magazine sums it up best:
“Research suggests that when we recognize our common humanity and show compassion, we are more likely to pull together and to solve issues that may be complex in nature. You can start by giving yourself some compassion, which can help you become more willing to admit mistakes and take steps to correct them. This is important, as human error can be costly when there is a viral outbreak, and we need to work together to learn from our mistakes.”
3. LOOK FOR THE HEROES/HELPERS
The Greater Good article also highlights a fact that I’ve always held true: “Contrary to popular belief, crises often bring out the best in people.”
According to the article, “a report that looked at how people responded during the September 11th Twin Tower attacks showed that people bent over backwards to help others escape, sometimes at great personal risk to themselves. Other reports on the aftermath of natural disasters show that strangers will stick out their necks for each other to help.”
This reminds me of the wisdom passed along from one of my favorite children’s TV hosts, Mr. Fred Rogers, who said his mother responded to scary news by telling him, “Look for the helpers. That’s where there’s hope.”
That’s exactly what I’ve been on the lookout for.
I discovered a heart-warming story on NextShark about the Guardian Angels, a vigilante group who is protecting Asian Americans in New York City’s Chinatown against coronavirus-related hate crimes.
And through the Facebook group “Asian Hustle Network,” I discovered this bittersweet story that melted my heart.
When I hear stories like Ashley’s, I can’t help but think about how that one kind act — walking a frightened po-po to her home — affected her, restored humanity for her and comforted her.
I was so moved by this story that I connected with Ashley about the heartbreaking outbreak of attacks and anti-Asian sentiment globally. She has since had an outpouring of support from strangers around the world.
Our passionate conversation inspired hosting a conversation we want to share with you via Instagram Live (@ToanLamTV on IG) Saturday, March 14 at 9 a.m. PT/noon ET.
Please join us as we walk you through what you, me, we can do to inspire compassion and action around this coronavirus craze.