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Natural Awakenings New York City

Facing Our Challenges Consciously, Together

By Michael Mongno, Ph.D.

As we find ourselves in a maelstrom unlike anything we’ve seen in recent history, we are being forced to sit up and take notice and begin a conscious awakening of mind and spirit. With the COVID pandemic vastly changing how we live, it’s more evident than ever that our planet’s survival depends on our awareness of this complex ecosystem and our willingness to be its responsible custodians. 

It’s no longer a question of our choosing to become conscious of the problem; rather, consciousness is being painfully thrust upon us every day. And the longer global leaders wait to enact real, comprehensive change, the more difficult and even dire the problem becomes for everyone—especially those who are already disenfranchised.  

A Level Playing Field

If we want to do our part, we need to take greater responsibility for ourselves, starting with our health. This is where we are being forced to make difficult choices that entail putting the health of others on par with our own. For the many rugged-individualist Americans, whose ego is wired to put self above others, this feels antithetical and extremely uncomfortable. 

What the pandemic has made clear by leveling the playing field is that we are all vulnerable, that we all have the same needs, and that no one is different or special when it comes to nature. This virus and the ravages of climate change care nothing about our philosophical beliefs or political affiliations. This is what is decimating America right now, when government leaders are resistant to the stark realities of nature, and proven science plays second fiddle to politics as the West Coast burns out of control.

What is happening is causing unprecedented emotional trauma to so many Americans, and on so many different levels. We are all in this together, yet the current politics of divisiveness, based on who stays in power, is pitting us against one other, against our neighbors and fellow citizens. This is madness, and it’s taking its toll day after day as the deaths from the pandemic reach staggering highs. I say “madness” because so much suffering and so many deaths could have been prevented if simple precautions had been taken from the outset. The problem has been exacerbated by our inability to weed out misinformation and find the truth, so we can take care of ourselves in very basic ways. 

Steps for Healing

A helpful first step would be to take a pause from our thoughts, our personal narratives to which we are so wed, and from the news, which keeps us on high alert and stressed out. We must slow down and manage what we allow in so that we can breathe and find solid ground in the present moment. This can be an antidote to the daily anxiety that so many of us feel. 

Another step is to reach out to others for support or consolation. The isolation we’re all enduring has torn away at the fabric of our social well-being, and we’re all feeling the traumatic effects. We need each other because we are each other. By being more aware of our sameness, by being more empathetic and compassionate, we can make a great difference to those around us. When we strive to be conscious and connected, we can tap into our collective potential and intuitive wisdom to create the multidimensional solutions we need to overcome the real obstacles we are all facing. 

A Course in Miracles states that there is only one of us here. You might say that the whole of humanity is like a hologram. Every part reflects the sameness of every other part that makes up the whole. If we were to think of others, our brothers, like ourselves, we could more easily look beyond the surface differences of race, religion, or culture and treat each other according to the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them to do onto you. This shift alone would go a long way in changing how we see each other and make it through the day—with less suffering, based on our sameness rather than difference. It recalls the Buddhist Loving Kindness prayer: 

  • May all beings be free of suffering. 
  • May all beings be safe. 
  • May all beings be healthy. 
  • May all beings be happy. 
  • May all beings be at peace.

We face some real challenges, but if we decide to face them together, for each other—not just to further our own agendas—we can create a transformed world, a place where we live in the peace of our sameness while still appreciating the differences that make up the face of humanity.

Michael Mongno, MFT, Ph.D., LP, counsels individuals and couples. His office is located on the Upper West Side of Manhattan near Lincoln Center, at 100 W. 67th St., Ste. #2NE. For more information, call 212-799-0001 or visit