Has this pandemic gotten to you too? You probably know you’re not alone. If the fear and restrictions of Covid have stressed you out even to the point of pulling you into the clutches of depression, this might be for the best depending on how you look at it. There is a lens you can see this time in your life through that’s as ancient as Buddhism and as contemporary as brain science. It’s called the SatoriWest Method.
The method describes two sides of a spectrum. It details how survival wiring in our brain causes suffering, stress, and unhappiness. Yes, everyone’s. Yet it shows how the brain can be shifted so that we fall in-love with the amazing reality of our existence. It’s an inner place that can bring up as much peace, meaning, and joy as we can hold.
So that’s really bad and really good news: encoding as powerful as survival wiring keeps us down, and yet we can access a natural high greater than we can get from any drug or good fortune.
This bad news has been part of the human story since the beginning of history. Our ancestors and fellow human beings have been so plagued by accumulating stress, disappointment, frustration, sadness, fear, and anxiety—with crises that occur on top of what we drag around with us—that it’s come to be called the “human condition.”
Here are a few facts to back that up: Even before the Covid pandemic, one in ten adults in the US crossed the threshold of everyday anxiety and distress to report symptoms of an actual anxiety or depressive disorder. While nearly one in five reported having any mental illness. In 2018, 48,000 people in the US died from suicide, while over 2017 to 2018 eleven million people reported having suicidal thoughts in the last year. (Data from the Kaiser Family Foundation)
Of course the human condition shows itself in lots of ways. It’s the cause of crime and violence, stressed relationships, spousal and child abuse, drug and other addictions, and just garden variety stress. All incidentally on the rise before the pandemic hit.
Enter Covid. Eighteen percent of people who received a Covid-19 diagnosis, whether they had a past psychiatric diagnosis or not were now diagnosed with a mental health disorder. The rate was even higher in older adults. (CDC report: Mental Health, Substance Use, and Suicidal Ideation During the COVID-19 Pandemic — United States, June 24–30, 2020 Weekly / August 14, 2020 / 69(32);1049–1057) Even a short way into the pandemic there were double the incidence of mental health concerns, such as symptoms of anxiety or depression, starting or increased substance use, stress-related symptoms, and serious thoughts of suicide.
With added social isolation, as well as loss of income, the stress of childcare or of working from home and not least of which was fear of dying from a hideous pulmonary and vascular disease to the already debilitating human condition we all had to start with. And that’s the making of a global emotional crisis.
Enter the SatoriWest Method. The SatoriWest Method has 5 main points or facts to realize:
1. Once again, the human condition is part of all of our experience of life—that is until we learn how to unwind it. Acknowledging and understanding that is essential to moving beyond it and this covid crisis.
2. The actual cause of the suffering aspect of being human is not what happens to us. As suprising as that may be to hear. We suffer solely because our brain’s survival wiring that is configured to go into Tunnel Vision. That’s a state where we focus on getting pleasure and avoiding pain, but in the process it warps our mind, causing us to lose self-control and mix up our imagination and ego with reality, among other things. That is what causes us to suffer.
3. There is also an amazing, astonishing, mysterious, and plain miraculous aspect of our human brain that is largely undeveloped. It has to do with the fact that the left and right side of our brain can detect one another. That gives us what we’re calling Perspective. Perspective, when developed gives us lots of great things, including wisdom, inner peace, a sense of humor, creativity, spontaneous expression, etc., as well as leading us be in-love with our experience of being alive. That’s the epitome of inner happiness.
4. Getting from Tunnel Vision to Perspective means your brain must somehow shift itself. This happens when you learn some skills we call BrainShifting—which is basically advanced mindfulness. BrainShifting into Perspective also happens naturally. Your brain can shift when you practice holistic wellness geared to cause your brain to shift itself.
5. This is the punchline: Hardship and distress are not always bad for you. Before I explain, let’s recap a bit: Tunnel Vision is the cause of emotional crises and all of the human condition. And, having great Perspective is what it means to be happy, naturally high, and deeply fulfilled. Hardships and crisis, however, can sometimes wake you out of the slumber of your life’s Tunnel Vision. They can shake you out of your ego: your insecurities and inhibitions, as well as your certainties and arrogance. Those moments can motivate you to change. They can provide clarity about your Tunnel Vision so that you can release it.
Back to Covid. Loneliness can be a killer. Of course it’s good for your brain (and you) to find companionship, love, and community. Yet, the feeling of loneliness itself and its thoughts, such as I wish I had someone to talk to, to hold me, to be with me, can remind you that happiness—not pleasure, mind you, but deep, abiding, unshakable happiness—comes from within. It comes from having a big picture of your life. It comes from feeling grateful for everything you have. From having loving thoughts towards others, towards yourself, and towards life itself. These are some of the aspects of Perspective. Perspective can be had in other ways too: by giving to others. By practicing mindfulness, especially when meditating. By taking extra care of all the spheres of your wellness.
Remember, people normally don’t feel well emotionally, so they work tirelessly to bring themselves whatever pleasure they can to escape their relentless human condition. They either don’t know how or are too trapped in their pleasure-seeking, pain-avoiding habits to find the true happiness that gives life its highest worth. Not always, but often it takes a crisis to shake things up. To get you off of that treadmill of searching for what feels good in the moment to fend off increasing despair. If you are in crisis over covid or anything else, maybe thinking of it as an opportunity can help.
Of course, true crises can require professional help. Sometimes medication. Sometimes therapy. Sometimes hospitalization. You can still take care of yourself in those ways while also availing yourself of the opportunity in crisis.