Calm and centred
By Lynda Shadbolt
These are challenging times. We are all in this time of collective adversity. I certainly never thought we would get to where we are, but here we are. Our lives are changed right now, and will be for a while.
As I sit in my living room writing this article my first thought is of profound gratitude to our community. Our doctors, nurses, health-care professionals are working so hard every day to do everything they can to keep us healthy. The staff at the grocery stores are ensuring we continue to have food and supplies. And there are many others.
People are social distancing and self isolating. Parents are with their kids doing all kinds of things. We have an art gallery that has started on our kitchen counter. Our musical instruments are out and we are baking! Volunteers are delivering food to those who can’t get out. Facebook and Instagram have seen a huge increase in people offering free classes and sessions in yoga, meditation, cooking, concerts, storytelling etc.
Eckhart Tolle is a favourite teacher of mine and I often check out his free meditations online. He has a page on the Internet called eckharttolle.com/free-resources that is worth checking out. There are free meditations, but also teachings that are helpful. He suggests that in challenging times, we need to deepen our presence. He acknowledges that there is a lot of fear about the future right now, and he suggests we practice staying in the present moment and that will reduce our own anxiety, which in turn will affect the people around us.
There is no question that we are all going to have to dig deep and ride the course of doing less for some time. In many ways we have to return to simple times. And so we will each have to manage our own inner response to that. We could become consumed by fear and worry, and not even have the virus. Our thoughts could cause us to suffer greatly. And so, we all need to do the things that keep us mentally and physically as well as possible.
I am walking more every day. The air is fresh, the days are getting longer and there are periods of warmth. The birds are starting to return. Even if you can’t walk, you can open a window or stand on your porch and take in some of the quiet presence of the natural world. We are so incredibly lucky to live where we are and to have the space around us. We all feel better when we move a bit, and breathe deeply.
Our families and our community and our planet need us to be strong. We all need to hold the hope that we will get through this time and we will learn from it and we will look back on it and remember the kind things and the little things that we did to support each other.
The Vietnamese Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh once told a story that inspires me. “When the crowded Vietnamese refugee boats met with storms or pirates, if everyone panicked all would be lost. But if even one person on the boat remained calm and centred, it was enough. It showed the way for everyone to survive.”