April 5, 2020

The Metta of Mask-Wearing.

Relephant read: Elephant’s Continually updating Coronavirus Diary. ~ Waylon


Yesterday, I sat in my car in the parking lot of the grocery store for 15 minutes, trying to decide if I should put on the disposable mask I’d received at a recent doctor’s appointment.

I’m literally sitting in the parking lot of the grocery store trying to decide if I should use a mask or not, I texted my husband. This is so surreal.

I posted on a mom’s group I’m in, asking if we’d reached the tipping point where most people were shopping with masks on.

As I waited for responses, I scanned the faces of shoppers entering and exiting the store, counting how many were wearing masks and how many weren’t. My heart sped as I held the disposable mask I’d saved.

Will people think I’m overreacting? That I’m taking masks from healthcare professionals? That I’m sick? I wondered.

A few minutes later a friend posted, saying her husband had just went to the store and noticed about 50 percent of shoppers were wearing some sort of face cover. I took a deep breath, pulled the mask up over my mouth and nose, and headed in.

At first, I felt ridiculous as I dropped Clementines and spring mix lettuce into my cart, though like my friend had reported, about half of the people I encountered were also wearing masks.

But partway through my trip, one of my favorite meditations—the metta, or loving kindness meditation—popped into my mind.

In metta, we begin by offering a blessing to ourself: May I be safe. May I be happy. May I be healthy. May I live with ease.

Next, we imagine offering the same wishes to someone we love. May she be safe. May she be happy. May she be healthy. May she live with ease.

From there, we offer metta for someone we see regularly but might not know well—the person who rings up our groceries or delivers our mail. May he be safe. May he be happy. May he be healthy. May he live with ease.

Then, we say metta for someone we have a more difficult relationship with. And lastly, we offer it to our community, our state, our country, our entire world. May we all be safe. May we all be happy. May we all be healthy. May we all live with ease.

I’ve always loved the metta meditation because it reminds me that it’s almost impossible to hold onto fear when we’re wishing love on ourselves and others.

By taking the actions being asked of us—by staying home, by wearing a mask when we do go out—we are practicing living metta. We’re protecting ourselves, those we love, those we encounter regularly but don’t know well, those who challenge us, those who we’ll never meet.

When I realized that, my whole body softened. The feeling of self-consciousness evaporated, and I started smiling at my fellow shoppers, hoping they could see the corners of my eyes crinkle above my mask.

We are so connected. How both terrifying and miraculous that a virus can jump from a bat to a human across the globe, then make its way to nearly every corner of the world.

May we all be safe. May we all be happy. May we all be healthy. May we all live with ease.


ॐ सर्वे भवन्तु सुखिनः
सर्वे सन्तु निरामयाः ।
सर्वे भद्राणि पश्यन्तु
मा कश्चिद्दुःखभाग्भवेत् ।
ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः ॥
Om Sarve Bhavantu Sukhinah
Sarve Santu Niraamayaah |
Sarve Bhadraanni Pashyantu
Maa Kashcid-Duhkha-Bhaag-Bhavet |
Om Shaantih Shaantih Shaantih ||

1: Om, May All be Happy,
2: May All be Free from Illness.
3: May All See what is Auspicious,
4: May no one Suffer.
5: Om Peace, Peace, Peace.

More Relephant Reads: 

How to Enjoy Life Amidst the Coronavirus Fear: Your Go-To Guide from Books to Podcasts & Wellness Practices.
What the Coronavirus is Teaching Me: 5 Lessons from Uncertain Times.
The Artist’s Stay-at-Home & Stay Sane Guide.
10 Simple Ways to Boost your Immunity without Leaving the House.



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