These recent weeks have been rife with uncertainty and the inevitable fear and anxiety that accompany it. The ambient stress we’re experiencing is like the steady growl of a motor, occupying our attention in a disturbing way as we recognize our own lack of control and vulnerability. We’re wondering if we’re doing enough to stay safe, if we have enough supplies, what we should do if we get sick …. We’re worrying about loved ones, finances, the future ….
Our nervous system is responding naturally to a major threat our health, comfort, and way of life. Challenging times like this makes me enormously grateful for my meditation practice and the perspective it has helped me establish. Right now, practice is a source of support and grounding.
Though Yoga for Living studio is temporarily closing to help keep us safe, live online video mindfulness classes and sessions will allow us to come together as a local community during this time of dis-ease. Meditation can help calm anxiety and strengthen the immune system. Please scroll down to see the offerings. If you’d like to participate in classes but are experiencing financial hardship, be in touch with the studio. If you need individual support, I offer Skype sessions.
Ancient teachings advise us to use adverse situations as opportunities for growth. These days I’ve been asking myself … what have I learned from COVID-19? What can it teach? What can we do to feel empowered? Here are some random thoughts, in no particular order …
- Mindfulness helps keep me safe in an unexpected manner. I’m aware of an impulse to touch my face. I remember to wash my hands, wipe down surfaces, and keep my distance. Autopilot is reduced, while presence increased due to my practice. How about you?
- Awareness of distress in the body/mind allows me to self-soothe when warranted, and to unhook from news. How about you?
- The mind has a tendency to skip over the positive and go to directly to a worse-case scenario. Our practice can help us recognize when we’re catastrophizing and remember that the vast majority of people recover from this virus. The odds are in our favor. This is a perfect time to be aware of thoughts that mislead.
- I’ve been reminded that death can come at any time, a reality that has always been true, but seems even more real now. I’m motivated to attend to things left unsaid and undone.
- I’m asking myself, “What really matters?” Being reminded of my own vulnerability is causing me to re-evaluate how I spend time and resources. Do I really need new spring clothes? Do I really need to spend so much time on the computer? To keep checking the news? This weekend I delighted in spending the spring-like afternoon tending the garden and going out for a walk by the bay.
- Impermanence: Things come and go, always in a state of flux. We’ve been through other reminders of our vulnerability (think 9-11, anthrax poisoning, Sandy storm). It helps to consider, “this too shall pass.”
- I’ve been using the extra time handwashing to recite the wish below. Said slowly and mindfully, it inclines the mind towards compassion.
May all beings be safe and well
May we be free from fear and anxiety
May we be free from pain and suffering
May lovingkindness spread throughout the world.
- I’ve been wondering … what if we incubate lovingkindness and compassion? Could warmheartedness ripple out to the farthest corners of the world like the corona virus? We’ve just learned how much more connected we are than we probably realized.
- Lastly, I’m so grateful! People, of their own volition, are shutting down and staying home to help prevent the spread of disease. Health care workers are stepping to the front lines. Friends are reaching out to friends. And, as events are cancelled, we have more free time!!! What a wonderful time for an at-home retreat. Truly a blessing!
May you relish the fragile blooms of spring that hold steady even in the wind, cold and rain. May you be safe, well, strong and happy. And may this virus disappear quickly, leaving love in its wake!