What can I possibly say about the past year that has not already been said? I don’t know what the answers to life are for others, so I will just talk about my personal journey through this unprecedented experience.
COVID came one day, and it just was. And we, the small and beautiful humans that we are, all had to look at it. In one way or another, we are all connected to COVID. In my lifetime, I don’t remember facing anything like this: this thing that is a part of all of our lives across the entire planet. When I try to imagine this globally, it takes a lot of effort, and even then I’m not satisfied with the image. The funny thing is that to deal with this gigantic thing, I’m having to reach for the finest part of myself.
In the end, this is what I’ve decided: I refuse to be consumed by fear, I refuse to just tolerate what is unfolding, and I refuse to lose hope and inner joy.
At least I try to refuse! (I admit – it’s a daily re-commitment.)
So what have I learned so far this year? Well, because I’m scared, I’ve learned how to breathe. Because my body needs a break from my mind, I’ve learned to cherish small things that I would normally have overlooked. Because this time, the unsettledness feels so multifaceted and full, I am learning to dig deeper inside my soul. And that digging takes a lot of energy.
Did you sleep as much as I did this winter? I was exhausted. I am just coming out of it. And now it’s my husband’s turn. He comes home from work and has a nap every day. That’s a new thing in his life.
I met a woman in Salmon Arm a few years ago who went to a meditation retreat that lasted four months. She flew to Taxco, Mexico and attended an event assembled by The Bright Paths. When I asked her why she decided to do that, she answered: “Because my sanity is worth it.” I was so impressed with her answer! What a beautiful thing to do for yourself. Choose to find peace, choose to find calm, choose to find inner love.
In looking for that myself in the past few months, I’ve found a few answers. In all this in-depth digging, thinking and feeling, I’ve discovered that my mind is like a small child. I have to nudge it back on the path the whole freakin’ way. It is so much work! Seriously, every minute I have to remind my mind to shut up and listen. Listen to the wind, listen to the birds, listen to the muscles of my body, listen to my breathing, listen to the water that fills my cells. Sometimes now, I actually manage to quiet this undisciplined mind of mine.
I started meditating about a year ago. And honestly, I don’t know how I would have made it through this year without it. I think I would have had a tantrum of one kind or another. You know what I learned about meditation? You cannot do it wrong! That’s right, all you have to do is do it. Sit, lie down, just do it. Guided meditation, music meditation, affirmations meditation, storytelling meditation, self-guided meditation. They all work in the sense that they all add up.
Among my favorite YouTube channels that graciously share very well-made meditations for us to listen to are: Jason Stevenson, The Mindful Movement, The Honest guys and Pura Rasa. In all of them I look first for a soothing voice, and then for content that can keep my mind from wandering. That latter part can change from day to day, so I don’t fight it. If one meditation is not working that day, I move on to another. I also have good and bad waves with meditation. Some weeks I feel like I am going nowhere with it and don’t feel it’s of much benefit. On other weeks, I feel like I pass through a threshold. I lose myself and find a new connection. I feel the pulse that inhabits all of us. The irony is that in this most intimate space that opens up in meditation, what I reach envelops everything.
I once read that our bodies are made up of mostly empty space. The space within our molecules is a void within us that is bigger than the matter, just like the space between the stars. That blew my mind and changed my perception of how I reside in the world. I am permeable! The world can seep into me and inhabit me.
And this is what COVID-19 is doing to all of us. In one way or another, physically, emotionally, socially, economically, it seeps into all of us and inhabits us. It does this because we are an integral part of the world we live in. It does this because we’re permeable. It does this because we are not separate.