It’s been six weeks since all the studios closed in Aruba, and I had to cancel all my classes.
I’ve decided that this pandemic is a “collective confrontation.” On a personal level, we are being confronted with our limitations and weaknesses. We are being tested on things like our ability to be by ourselves, handling changes and loss of freedom, living with a lower budget, and much more.
My level of faith has certainly been tested, especially in the beginning, when virus cases were multiplying daily, and people were losing their loved ones.
Now, a few weeks later, global curves are flattening, and recovery numbers are rising; I can let go.
The low-budget living aligns well with the minimalist lifestyle I am practicing. I had already stopped shopping since Christmas—I only spend money on essentials.
The confinement reminds me of fasting. We have periods of silence, a simple diet, minimal external distractions, and solitude to purify the mind. My biggest struggle has been professional. I have had to shift my classes online and get savvy with streaming, filming, and editing.
Now I am embracing the situation. I love all the sunsets!
I worked evenings for 10 years and never got to see sunsets during the week. I can appreciate the deserted beaches and quietness on the streets.
I love my slow breakfasts in the garden, the longer and deeper meditations, long talks on the phone with my friends and family, and all the bonding time with my son.
I am living without hurry and pressure.
Also, I am in awe of how nature is thriving—the seawater is clearing up in front of hotels, and there are drastically more parakeets nesting in the parks. I snorkeled in an endless shoal of fish at Tres Trapi Beach Cove. A place where fish quantity and diversity had dropped because of excessive boat tours is now thriving!
In India, the drop in air pollution has made the Himalayan mountaintops visible for the first time in 30 years. In many countries, wild animals enter the empty streets.
I almost feel guilty to be appreciating and enjoying all this, but I am not alone.
I have had many friends confess that they needed this break. They are thriving from all the free time and are finally doing what they always wanted—dedicating time to their passions, working on their dream projects, discovering new talents, and exploring new ideas. Some realized how they could be happy and peaceful with less money.
We also have examples of worldly figures having similar experiences throughout history:
Malcolm X, who decided to educate himself and read all the books in the prison library, stated, “Months have passed without my even thinking about being imprisoned, in fact up to then, I had never been so truly free in my life.”
Etty Hillesum, who got her religious awakening in the Auschwitz concentration camp, wrote in her diary, “Despite everything, life is full of beauty and meaning.”
Sri Aurobindo refined his spiritual practice and reached enlightenment during his one-year incarceration.
These heroes, along with my thriving friends, have something in common—they activated their greatness during confinement.
Maybe crises make us sharp and help us leap higher in our consciousness? It makes me wonder if a yearly, structured worldwide fast can be healthy for nature and humanity?
Whether this quarantine is a sabbatical or imprisonment depends on our state of mind—the level of consciousness from which it operates.
According to yogic wisdom, the mind that functions at a lower level of consciousness (or body consciousness) tends to attach to and identify with things of the external world, creating dependency. This can cause unnecessary stress and suffering. A mind that operates at a higher state of consciousness (soul consciousness) is aligned with inner wisdom, where there are natural fulfillments, freedoms, and clarity.
I love this quote by Sri Aurobindo:
“The utmost mission of the mind is to train our obscure consciousness. It has emerged out of the dark prison of matter, to enlighten its blind instincts, random intuitions, and vague perceptions until it shall become capable of this greater light and this higher ascension…“
Daily meditations can help us grow in consciousness, transform old thought patterns, and live with an expanded vision of life. This offers more possibilities and potential for happiness. Meditation is also an amazing survival skill that helps us remain calm, centered, and focused during a crisis. But, not everyone will have the capacity to transcend hardships.
As a community, we need to guard one another to minimize unnecessary suffering.
I have friends who offered to be my financial backbone, and I have done so for others who have less than me. It is an excellent feeling (I also noticed that people are more likely to reach out if we offer them our help first.)
COVID-19 is a fruitful moment in the evolution of consciousness. We have the potential to rise in awareness, ideas, feelings, and make significant personal shifts in how we live.
Whether we are at the beginning, in the middle, or at the end of the pandemic, whether this virus is bioengineered or natural, whether biblical prophecies and ancient mythologies of the world ending are coming true, it does not matter. It matters that we strive to be the best we can be, now, despite what tomorrow brings.
My dear friend reading this article, we have the choice and the potential to come out of this as better versions of ourselves. Also, don’t forget to join some of the beautiful, free online yoga and meditation classes.
Let’s make the best of this. With love from Aruba!