31 Mar Meditation in the Time of Pandemic – April 1 2020
It’s all up to you.
You are completely responsible for your life.
You are the creator.
It’s an awesome burden and a great freedom.
It’s all up to you.
When you take responsibility for one life, you assume
responsibility for all life.
If you fail to take responsibility for your life,
do not exist.
Tough, isn’t it?
When you finally realize how really tough it is, when you finally accept life, when you finally find there is no way out but self-awareness and the incredible pain and loneliness and responsibility it brings, then and only then will you begin to be alive, and begin to know the joy of freedom.
from DAS ENERGI, by Paul Williams
(This writing may, or may not, have anything to do with the quote above. Nonetheless, they seem to want to go out together.)
This morning I spoke with a friend who is a meditator, and asked if they were meditating. ‘I was,’ she said. ‘Then this Covid-19 thing happened, so I stopped.’
‘You stopped because…’
‘I get up in the morning and there’s so much to do. I can’t sit there and basically just go back to sleep right after I wake up. It’s absurd.’
‘And if I’m not falling asleep, it feels like all I’m doing is sitting there thinking. I mean, come on.’
This is one report from a meditator sheltering in place. She didn’t want to be talked into meditating, so I didn’t try. But for anyone who would like a little encouragement, here it is:
Though it can feel very restful, meditation is not just a vacation from the inside of my head. Meditation is a way to progressively remove stress, stress triggers and stress chemistry from my system. As it works on these over-active aspects of my survival response, lessening my reactivity to the world and its challenges, it expands my capacity for what we might call ‘adaptation energy,’ the ability to meet new challenges as opportunities for learning and adventure, rather than as one more #*&!*#! thing keeping me from feeling okay or safe or at peace. I become better able to choose away from worry, anxiety, fear and anger, and adopt a mood of acceptance and expectation. I am able to stop the constant comparison of what is to what should be. I become able to live in the moment, instead of the grinding worry of my immediate future and all the dragons of horrifying possibility there.
One lesson we can take from 12-Step groups is their insistence on living ‘one day at a time.’ This means coming back to the moment each time I find myself in worry, negative thinking and trepidation. I can do almost anything for one day; even something that feels like it would break me if I had to do it for two months, or three months, or…
If you have the gift of meditation, use it today. Once in the morning and once in the evening. You owe it to yourself, to your family, and to the collective. And even if it feels like all you’re doing is sitting with your eyes closed and thinking, having the mantra (or your breath or some white light within) only here and there, know that something is being accomplished; and then notice, as you go through your morning if maybe it’s just a little easier not to scare yourself with the news or your worst-case-scenario thinking.
And from Adele: ‘For me, meditation is a relief from everything. And there’s so much I need relief from.’
Today I will meditate twice—for my own benefit and for the benefit of the collective—and I will stay awake and aware through the rest of my day, never allowing myself to stray too far into the weeds of negativity and fear.
Ganesh in the Garden, tintype, Studio City CA