“The kingdom of God is available to you in the here and the now. But the question is whether you are available to the kingdom. Our practice is to make ourselves ready for the kingdom so that it can manifest in the here and the now. You don’t need to die in order to enter the kingdom of heaven. In fact, you have to be truly alive in order to do so.” ~ Thich Nhat Hanh
Forced isolation. Financial and health concerns. Fear of scarcity. Fear of the future as a whole.
It seems we are now characters of a near-future dystopic novel written by Margaret Atwood or George Orwell. We’re living during chaotic governments ruled by science deniers who say we are overreacting and that climate change isn’t something to worry about until, let’s say, 20 years from now.
How did it come to this so fast?
Yes, we’re there, my friends. It’s reality and it’s been a warning for a long time. We’re being destructive to our planet, so we all knew it was just a matter of time.
But this article isn’t about the dangers of COVID-19 or other possible pandemics in the near future. We already know too much about all that (at least, I hope we’re all getting informed).
This article is a simple reminder that you need to breathe. I am here to remind you to make space for some meditation during these chaotic times.
“Come on. Like I can think of meditation. I don’t even know if I’ll have roof over my head a few months from now!”
I totally understand the resistance to going within right now. Trust me, I’m struggling with that too. I close my eyes, take a few deep breaths, and soon, I’m back thinking about work and if I’ll be able to afford to pay my bills. But then I decide I owe myself some time. The bills can wait a few minutes, can’t they? My family can be put on hold and get distracted for a few minutes, can’t they?
My sensitive soul needs healing right now. And so does yours. It’s not only Mother Earth that needs healing—you do too.
I like to say that nothing can bring us closer to the “divine” than meditation. Prayer can do it too for some, but I’ve always thought there’s something special about meditating.
When times are hard, when my heart gets small with so much fear and anxiety, I remember a meditation with Thích Nhất Hạnh I listened to via Insight Timer. It was simple. It basically told us to pay attention to our breath. Hạnh said that by just breathing we could access the “Kingdom of God.” That special “place” was available to us at this moment, right here, right now. Our heaven, basically.
And what a blessing our breath can be. It can bring us to a peace that already exists within ourselves. I believe that it’s not until we go within that we can connect to the best version of ourselves, to the “divine.”
Jon Kabat-Zinn also says, “As long as you are breathing, there is more right with you than there is wrong.”
Let’s just pause for a second and let that all sink in.
The fact that you are breathing right now, and you’re not in a hospital hooked up with machines, is a blessing in itself. The fact that you are not contaminated with a deadly virus right now is also a blessing. You can even have the Coronavirus right now and still feel blessed for feeling better than most who are extremely ill in hospitals waiting for a hospital bed to lay on.
The point is, we’re so blessed to be right here, right now, going through this article and still breathing, and still with a roof above our heads. So, it’s time we used that breath to give us light. It’s time we connected with the real “Kingdom of God” that Hạnh mentioned. To connect with our essence, our flourishing soul.
So, I invite you to do a simple loving-kindness practice so you can find your balance—and also your heart in those difficult times. In fact, it’s such a simple practice that you can adapt it as much as you want. You can make it shorter, longer, and even turn it into a walking meditation if you are still allowed to walk alone in the woods.
First, start with your breath. Sit in a comfortable position. Feel the heaviness of your body adjusting to the floor as you start the practice. Then bring your attention to your breath. For a few minutes, just pay attention to the breathing. Notice how the air leaving the nostrils seems warmer than the air that comes in. Notice the details about this simple act of just breathing in and out.
Then, I want you to focus on your heart. Offer yourself some loving-kindness. Focus on gratitude. Thank you, heart, for keeping me alive. Thank you for beating right now, nice and strong.
You can thank different parts of your body if you want. That is a great way to ground. Then next, say this simple mantra to yourself (feel free to modify it as needed):
May I be joyful and healthy
May I be peaceful in those difficult times
May I be of service to others
May I bring light and hope to the world
May I see myself with eyes of love and compassion
May I know who I really am.
Spend a few minutes offering yourself some loving-kindness. When you feel that beautiful and powerful energy in your heart center, you will know that both your body and soul are grounded. You have found balance.
After that, why not offer what you have to the world? Send some loving-kindness to everyone. Imagine everyone in their best versions, living life in their fullest potential, helping one another through difficult times, connecting, sharing love and support. You can change the mantra and use “you” to include everyone on this planet.
May you be joyful and healthy
May you be peaceful in those difficult times
May you be of service to others
May you bring light and hope to the world
May you see yourself with eyes of love
May you know who you really are.
Because at the end of the day, we are on a journey of self-discovery and progress. Many are still sleeping. But we can wake them up and invite them to hop along.
I truly believe that we raise the vibration of the planet by meditating. If we all do this, we are going to transmute a lot of fear and panic into love, compassion, and support. Things won’t magically be perfect, but we will be able to ride the waves without drowning. Everyone holds one another’s hands and we can get much further.
Let us not distance ourselves from who we really are in those times of forced social distance. We may actually have an important tool in hands now: more time. We may have more time, so let’s not only spend it binging on Netflix, books, and games. Let’s also be of service. You can always call a friend who may be suffering now. You may offer to pick up prescriptions and groceries for the elderly. You may reach out to your neighbors and simply ask if they need anything.
There is so much we can do, but at the end of the day, even if we can’t do much, one thing is for sure: we can always meditate. And we should. Love yourself enough, love others enough, to find your balance. Believe me, everyone will benefit from it.
Are you ready to start your practice now? Remember: going within, you go much further.