Letters & Opinion

FEAR is the Cheapest Room in the House

Written by Kay MacDuffee

So here’s the thing. I was actually out of toilet tissue.

I had over-nighted in the city with friends and as I was leaving for home they kindly tucked 2 rolls into my bag. We laughed. In my imagination I saw myself returning the rolls after grabbing a package in my local supermarket on the way home.

I drove up to Bolton. Stopped at Zehrs. Walked over to the tissue aisle. Got the shock of my life. It was empty! Stripped bare. That was when the reality struck. People really ARE drowning in fear. In a chat with the young cashier I learned that those aisles were full that morning but also that people had been lined up to get into the store. We had the same question: Why toilet paper?

As I used to tell my children, “It’s not always just about you.”

But fear does wild things to us. Hoarding is an ugly word. It implies: As long as I am okay, the rest of the world can go to hell. Or, to be kinder: I am looking after me and mine, and you had better do the same.

Either way, it is based on fear, and fear is a terrible motivator. It makes us shrink from who we really are, turning us into a simpering shadow of our true self.

So let’s look at FEAR. False Evidence Appearing Real. It is the oldest and strongest emotion of humankind, and the worst fear is that of the unknown. That may just be the driver of all this panic and hoarding. For most of us, the pandemic and its unfolding is a step into the unknown. The fact that it has traveled to every continent but Antarctica in a couple of months is a little unnerving, I grant you.

I am not for one minute suggesting that we do not take it seriously. Rather I am suggesting that the fear response is not optimal. In the grip of fear we do irrational things – like bring in a year’s supply of toilet tissue. Fear is a parallel virus accompanied by it’s brother ‘dread’.

What I am suggesting is that we replace our fear response with sanity. That in our mind and body, we go into a calm, clear, centred place of well being, where we inhale peace. This may take some practice if you are new at it, but with the new scheduling replacing our once manic lifestyle with a “remote”, at-home workplace model, there will be time for slipping in a little sitting still and breathing. Make use of this profound opportunity.

Begin with – This too shall pass.   Three deep, cleansing breaths.
My whole being is healthy and filled with the energy of Love.   More deep breaths.

You get the idea. I use a candle to centre my attention and intention.

Using loving kindness meditation like this will change your life if you stick to it. Think about replacing the constant media bulletins that instill more fear, with these breaks that replace that fear with peace.

My other push would be to go outside and spend time there, preferably around lots of trees. That is one of the healthiest pastimes I could promote.

I cannot help but wonder if this virus is here to show us a new way to live — to rebuild our damaged immune systems — to adopt a healthier lifestyle. To “make regular visits to our self’ and spend time connecting with the divine, with nature.

It is definitely a wake-up call. Will we wake up? It would be a shame if we slept through it.

My last tip is about hand washing. Rather than timing it by singing Happy Birthday a couple of times, try this mantra:

May all beings be safe.
May all beings be content.
May all beings be healthy.
May all beings live with ease.

20 seconds if you say it twice.

FEAR is the cheapest room in the house. I would like to see you living in better conditions.
– Rumi

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About the author

Kay MacDuffee

Kathryn (Kay) MacDuffee thinks of herself as a learner/teacher/seeker after truth.  She’s lived in Caledon before it was Caledon. A retired educator and journalist, her brimming energy keeps her active still in both. Her secret? An attitude of gratitude.

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  • Patti….this is a great article. I couldn’t agree more. I just thought I would alert you to another way to overcome fear. Movement and breath. With that in mind , let me tell you about a project that is happening in our community called The Parlour Project. It was conceived by Lee-Anne Simpson of Caledon East, who is a certified Fitness Instructor. She has brought together a number of Fitness professionals to teach a variety of virtual fitness classes on the internet using the ZOOM app. 5 days a week. Her objective is to reach as many people as she can, who are experiencing anxiety and loneliness during this time of physical isolation. This is strictly voluntary If you are interested in learning more about this project, look for The Parlour Project on FaceBook. Hope you continue to be well and safe.