It isn’t news to anyone that we’re living in stressful, uncertain times with COVID-19. But what has been giving us strength? What has been keeping people positive and optimistic? We asked Working Against Gravity members these questions, and you’ll discover their top responses below. We hope that the ideas in this blog from coach Michael Vanchieri can give you some strength, too.
A common theme in spiritual practices is duality. There’s yin and yang. God and the devil. The sun and the moon. Fire and ice. Chaos and order. The Jedi and the Dark Side.
Two opposing forces that exist in the same entity. One requires the other.
It is within this balance that life deduces its beauty. This balance makes life possible!
Too much order leads to boredom and tyranny. Too much chaos leads to anarchy. The warrior needs the battle. The writer needs writer’s block. The strength needs the obstacle.
We can all agree that the current obstacle facing humanity is immense. We’ve never seen anything like it. According to most New Yorkers I’ve spoken to, the COVID-19 panic even trumps 9/11.
As with any force, a force of an opposing nature, in equal magnitude, is required to restore balance.
Here at Working Against Gravity, we wanted to know what these opposing forces are for our members. What mechanisms are our members using to restore order to the chaos? What’s bringing them strength during one of the greatest tests in modern times?
Workouts & Fitness
It’s no secret that training gives you physical strength. (Just ask your burgeoning biceps. For those of you reading this in Los Angeles or Sydney, I feel the distinct gravitational pull from their raw mass from all the way here in New Jersey).
And it isn’t just the physical benefits of strength training that pay dividends – there are major mental benefits. It’s like a 401k that doesn’t depreciate in value.
There’s something so satisfying about working out. It speaks to our souls. It’s difficult, and that’s where the magic lies. Each day, we have an opportunity to overcome an obstacle in the form of our workout.
Training our body conditions our brain to think of obstacles not as impediments, but as opportunities for growth.
Those who exercise regularly have a different kind of mindset – they approach life with a “bring-it-on” attitude. If we can tackle a half marathon or the CrossFit workout “Murph” or a set of 20 heavy back squats, being stuck in our house isn’t a hassle – it’s just another chance to grow.
While there’s no obstacle quite like a pandemic that seems to have come straight from a science fiction novel, training rewires our brain to know that we will be the victor.
Relationships and community
Humans are social creatures. Whether we’re an introvert or extrovert, we need other humans.
The sum of the parts is greater than the whole. That’s common amongst all organisms on the planet. It’s also why we’ve climbed so high up the evolutionary food chain. We’ve found a way to communicate and rely on each other more than any other species in the history of life.
It’s why we marry. It’s why we live in communities. It’s why we love parties. It’s why on every episode of House Hunters, Jim and Jill want an open concept kitchen so they can “entertain.”
COVID-19 is like a massive project with an unreasonable deadline – if we embark on a project like this all alone, we’re dead in the water. If we split up the tasks amongst other like-minded individuals, however – we’ve got a recipe for accomplishing something great.
Technology is a miracle. There’s a reason your grandma holds the FaceTime camera like she’s getting a nasolaryngoscopy. It’s unfathomable to her.
Atomic energy is also a miracle. Using it, we can make a bomb or power an aircraft carrier for twenty years. So I encourage you to use the gift of technology wisely. During COVID-19, those of you who have heralded technology as a way to connect with your loved ones (while successfully avoiding TikTok ketamine holes) have found another source of strength!
(Humor can also be a source of strength so we present this for your comedic pleasure)
Gratitude & silent reflection
Humans are wired to bias toward the negative. It’s a survival mechanism. We rose to the top of the food chain by worrying about when the next saber-toothed tiger will attack us.
Old habits die hard. The default state is egoic. It’s anxious, stressful, and agonizing.
What happens when we take that default state and add another layer of suffering on top of it (namely, COVID-19)? Our brains turbocharge into a negativity echo chamber.
WAG members have turned to two tried-and-true mechanisms for managing all the negativity: active gratitude and time spent in silence.
Every spiritual practice in humanity’s history has recognized that gratitude and silence are potent mechanisms to manage negativity. Practicing gratitude highlights the beauty that we experience. These practices help us remember that, amongst the dark and dangerous ore mines, there is gold.
Silence is another powerful mechanism. Through silence, whether it be prayer, meditation, or journaling, we become aware of our egoic thoughts. We befriend them. We understand that they’re trying to look out for us – but like a helicopter parent, they often do more harm than good.
We can also use silent practice to reset our CPU, enabling us to think with more clarity and understand what is within our control and what is not.
Those of us practicing gratitude and silence have unlocked a superpower of strength during these troubling times.
Working Against Gravity coach and community
It was a pleasant surprise to hear that so many of our WAG members cited this program and their coach as sources of strength. I’m not alone amongst the coaches in losing sleep over clients’ struggles, so this made my heart smile.
We love each and every one of our clients. As much as we’d all love to take credit for WAG being a magic entity that eliminates stress and enables strength, when it comes down to it, we all need people we can lean on. We all need someone with whom we can share our darkest fears and celebrate our successes.
This is the ‘secret sauce’ of humanity. We need commonality in our suffering and our bliss.
Have you ever had something wonderful happen to you, only to have no one to share it with? With WAG, or any close friend with whom you can be your truest self, that never happens.
Whether it’s your WAG coach, cousin, or best friend, we all need that person who is eager to ease our suffering by sharing in the pain.
So, in conclusion, we hope you’ll lean on your workouts, relationships and gratitude practices to stay strong during these strange and uncertain times. You’re stronger than you think!
Do you think you could benefit from some personalized support and accountability to maintain a healthy lifestyle during these stressful times?