We’re in a state of emergency! Lock down the planet! No one gets out alive; we’re all gonna die!
Coronavirus slash COVID-19 panic and fear are dominating the airwaves 24/7.
But, hold on. Let’s take three long, deep breaths, together. Let’s allow ourselves to fully arrive in this moment, in this place; in our homes, on Mother Earth.
Everything is changing all the time. It always has. And now humanity is being forced to ground, to slow our pace way down, to separate and yet also somehow unite—to rise above what we previously saw as our differences and realize our oneness.
I’ll happily go on retreat, right here and now. Staying home is what I do. Or, I should say, it has gradually become what I do over the course of years. I recently realized, that I only go out when I “have” to: to work at a retreat center (a 20-minute boat ride across the lake, two to three days a week); to teach yoga on Saturday mornings; to hang out with a girlfriend (a rarity); to go out for lunch or dinner when it’s my turn to cook and I don’t feel like it.
Other than that, I stay home. If I don’t need to go anywhere on a given day, I stay home, gratefully and joyfully working and playing. So, being told I have to stay home for the next two weeks isn’t shocking or bad news to my mind.
So much has changed, so quickly. It started last week with the ban on European travelers. Now, United States and Canadian travelers aren’t allowed into the country, either. Nonessential business and activity is prohibited. Everything is cancelled; the only connection allowed is online. Borders are closed. Meetings are off.
There are currently 10 cases in Guatemala, where I live. These are drastic measures.
We all want to think that we have it all under control. We have our plans and goals and stand on solid ground. Buddhist teachings tell us the opposite: nothing is under control, everything is changing all the time, there is no ground on which to stand. Everything is emptiness, illusion, created by our mind and its conditioning.
Global pandemic is a stark reminder of the fact that nothing is under our control, aside from our own personal choices in each moment. So, yes, wash your hands. Spend less time scrolling mindlessly and more time gazing at the stars. Also, if possible, enjoy this time of personal retreat. (Doesn’t that sound nicer than quarantine, social distancing, or isolation?)
Help those who are unable to retreat (like medical professionals, people living in poverty, people dependent on tourism, to name a few) by offering support in whatever way you can—financial, physical, emotional, spiritual. Take care of your immune system. Go vegetarian. Stay strong and healthy. Don’t spend too much time on social media. Use the internet mindfully. Stay informed but also consciously disconnect from the mainstream.
The shit storm will end, sooner or later. The rain will come. But there is no “going back.” Choose your evolution.
Here’s what’s coming up as important in my heart space:
>> Loving kindness
>> Light within
We are riding the waves of change together.
Spiritual practice has never been more essential. Deep breathing. Yoga. Laughter. Compassion. Metta. Present moment awareness, please.
Breathe deeply. Look for the beauty, tranquility, humor, joy, and peace amidst the chaos.
Retreat into the breath. There is no boredom; only awareness. There is this inhale, this exhale, and the next, and the next. There is the constant stream of thoughts and feelings. See if you can watch them pass by, like a river flows, just observing whatever arises (thoughts, ideas, opinions, physical sensations, worries, pains, hopes, dreams, plans, feelings, and so on).
Observe how each arises, stays a little while, and then leaves. Try not to grasp or clutch, and also not to push away or reject any particular mental activity that arises. Just watch from the shore. Come back to the shore anytime you get swept away. Sit in the sun, basking in its warmth and light.
We are all in this together. May we rise above and embrace positive change. Namaste.