If you have followed my work in the past, you have heard me share about the concept of an “AFGE.” This is my shorthand for “another f@#king growth experience.” I first started using the term when I was diagnosed with breast cancer shortly after my mother died of cancer. It was the most difficult and terrifying time of my life, and at times it was really hard for me to stay present and open to what the universe was trying to teach me. But in staying with the experience and making the conscious choice to surrender to whatever new bump in the road life would throw at me, I deepened my soulwork and accessed higher levels of joy and unconditional love than I ever thought possible. In other words, I had an AFGE.
AFGEs happen when we least expect it. They come in the form of divorce, illness, death, accidents, and even natural disasters. It can be a lost job or a lost opportunity. It can be a broken heart or a near-death experience. And, of course, it can be a pandemic.
That’s right: We are all experiencing an AFGE right now, and for the first time in recent memory, we are having a GLOBAL AFGE. In countries around the world, people are facing coronavirus and dealing with all the feelings that surround this terrible pandemic. We are dealing with feelings of isolation, anger, fear, guilt, resentment, and helplessness.
It’s a really scary time but it’s also a time of such massive potential. The universe has essentially wiped our social calendars clean and handed us a gift of time and space and privacy. It’s our choice how we react to this gift. It’s our choice how we react to this terrifying time when we are grappling with our own vulnerability and tenuous mortality.
I see the pandemic as a collective call to action from the universe. All the noise of the outside world and all the temptations that can distract us from our inner work have been put on pause, but that doesn’t mean we are all instantly in a Zen, meditative mood. Just the opposite. Drinking, divorce, substance abuse, pornography, compulsive online shopping and other destructive habits have taken hold right now. That’s because we aren’t used to the silence. Most of us aren’t used to being quiet and reflective and holding space for all the scary feelings that are coming up right now. It’s our go-to impulse to run from those feelings, to hit the ‘mute’ button on the parts of us that are crying out the loudest.
But, the universe keeps calling on us, keeps urging us to slow down, breathe mindfully, and focus inward. As difficult as this time can be, it’s also a time when we’re literally being forced to get outdoors more (because it’s become the safest refuge to avoid germs) and forced to conserve our words and communicate in a more intentional way. With a mask over our mouths, our words might be muffled or in some cases we may choose not to speak to help lessen the spread of germs as we pass by one another. But our energies are still speaking to each other: We are relying on our body language, on the vibrations we are sending out and getting back, rather than getting lost in the minutiae of small talk or empty platitudes. In other words, we are getting real with each other and with ourselves.
So take this amazing gift and get intentional about your time during this pandemic because this kind of global AFGE is super-rare and super-powerful. So many people around the world are working together and sending healing energy out into the world as they get serious about their healing and about healing their communities. Research on mass meditation has shown that when people unite their positive energies together in a conscious group force it can have a positive impact on their neighborhoods around them, in some cases literally lowering the crime rate and encouraging peace in their communities.
So yes, this time is difficult and upsetting and scary, but all that fear and discomfort can open us up and connect us to each other if we allow it to do so. This pandemic can change the world but first we have to commit to staying with the pain, staying with the fear, and letting the f*$king growth happen. No, it won’t be easy. And you may want to curse and yell and cry along the way. But keep on the path: It might be leading somewhere beautiful.