Welcome! If you are here, then maybe you are curious and looking for something else about COVID-19 than the typical daily news flash. The news is important to help you stay well informed and make healthy choices. And it can be overwhelming.
The invitation here is to carve out about an hour for your yourself, possibly 1.5 hours if you choose to experience this with another person.
If you are practicing alone, then find a comfortable, quiet space to listen to the guided meditation in your favorite meditation posture. Have a journal/paper and pen (or laptop) ready to go for the reflective journaling part.
Once the meditation is complete, read the writing elements below, the poem "The Peace of Wild Things", the writing reflection, and write/type for approximately 20-30 minutes. You can write for a shorter or longer length of time depending on your needs.
Dyads: If you are practicing with another person, then listen to the guided meditation together, and follow the same writing instructions. Once you both have finished the writing process, decide who will share first, while the other simply listens. (You can choose to set a timer for sharing 4-5 minutes each, or keep this more spontaneous. Each person should be given the same respect of time.) The one sharing can read what was written, share the process in his/her/their own words, or a combination of both. The listener listens with his/her/their whole body, mind, and heart without the need to say or do anything else. After the speaker is done, the listener thanks the speaker for the vulnerability it took to share. Then roles are reversed. After both parties have the chance to share, the dyad may choose to move to an open dialogue about the process, or not.
May this offering be of service. I'd love to hear how it goes for you.
Text of Guided Meditation
Please sit comfortably, relaxed yet alert. Whether you are sitting in a chair, on a cushion, or lying down, notice the areas where your body is supported by the earth and this moment.
Take a few full breaths in and out, inhaling deeply, and exhaling completely. Then return your breath back to its natural state when you’re ready.
Where do you feel the movement of your breath? Is it the inflow and outflow of breath at the tips of your nostrils? The rise and fall of your chest? Or the contraction and expansion of the belly? Rest your attention gently on the place that feels the most natural for the next minute or so.
If the attention has wandered away from the breath, it’s not a problem, it’s what minds do. Notice where the attention was, and gently guide the attention back to your breath with as much kindness and as little judgement as possible.
Releasing the attention from the breath, imagine that you are in a space that feels comfortable, safe, and protected. This might be a place in nature, a part of your home, a place from your childhood, or a place where you gather with others. Engage the five senses as best as you can to bring you to this place. What do you see, hear, smell, taste? What can you touch?
Though this place is safe, news from the world outside keeps creeping to the edges of your comfort zone – the things that could happen to you or loved ones around you, the physical isolation, work, school, travel and home lives disrupted. Maybe other thoughts are also present.
Can you sense the feelings beneath the thoughts: anger, fear, disappointment, frustration, hopelessness, sadness, something else? Remember that you are not alone in this. Others are experiencing this, too.
Where do these feelings live in the body? Is there any physical area of tension or tightening, heaviness or holding?
Breathe with what’s here, without the need to change or fix any part of this experience, bathing any discomfort in kind awareness, trusting the process as best as you can. It might help to feel the presence of a being who supports your sense of safety and comfort: a spiritual being, a parent, grandparent, partner, good friend, or pet.
What might this being want you to remember that is positive in times like this? Maybe it’s access to healthcare, supportive beings at work and at home, how interdependent we are locally and globally, how a virus can physically separate us and still motivate us to work collectively towards health, wellbeing, and a potential vaccine. Or maybe this being has another message of care and concern for you.
As the philosopher Albert Camus said, “In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer. And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there's something stronger – something better, pushing right back.”
-Timed writing. Set a timer for a certain length of time (20-30minutes). Try and write for the full length of time. Keep the pen moving on paper like a skater on ice. This will encourage you to keep exploring, even when you feel stuck. That being said, sometimes the kindest thing is to stop writing if you are feeling overwhelmed by something or feel as if your exploration is complete before time is up. Writing continuously helps to bypass the left, logical, linear mind and the inner critic to access our creative, intuitive side.
-Nothing will be graded. Let go of grammar, spelling, punctuation, etc. Give yourself the permission and space to write in a manner that supports your exploration. If it’s helpful, imagine you are having a conversation with a kind and supportive friend. Feel free to say whatever you want to say. You may even choose to write in your native language.
-If you get stuck, you can always write ideas down like a grocery list. They don’t have to be complete sentences. You can also rewrite part of the poem or writing reflection question that stands out to you and see where it takes you.
-Trust yourself. If you’d like to write about something other than the writing prompt, feel free to do so. This is your time to explore in a manner that will best serve you.
The Peace of Wild Things (excerpt)
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For the time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
By: Wendell Berry
When despair for the world grows inside you, where can you go and lie down to feel safe, rest in the grace of the world, and be free? If this place is not physically available to you due to illness, isolation protocols, or bans on public meetings, can you reflect and write about the last time you were there?