“By allowing today to blossom, and by embracing the unpredictable changes that shape our life, we get connected to endless possibilities. “

~ Akiane Krimarik

Is this time, this weird place we are in FOR US? Or “FOR THE BIRDS?”  I think it’s for us. I think it’s a gift. A sheep in wolf’s clothing, perhaps. 

Corona has been awful. Awfully scary.  Awfully alienating. Awfully tragic and tumultuous.  So much devastation- lives, dreams, health, welfare, plans for the future.  All torn down. So as we sit, here, the whole world at Ground Zero, I realize; I have never known the present.  Not like now. This present time, in many ways, has been a gift.

I’ve spent time here, but usually not stayed too long.  Our culture teaches us to react, protect, plan, produce. We have an idea; we act on it. We have an emotion; we respond to it.  We can’t do that now. With no sense of the future, it’s impossible to plan; we are being forced instead to process. We have no choice but to be with our experiences and emotions.  Or as they say with meditation, sit with it

Quarantine is a meditation of sorts. If you haven’t ever tried silent meditation, or contemplative prayer ~potentially the most challenging and rewarding kind of meditation~ this is a pretty fair analogy for what your first few shots at it might feel like.  A lot comes up.  

First, antsiness with your physical body–itches, twitches, back pain, numbness. ( Sounds fun doesn’t it?) That is followed by subtle body discomfort, which is worse.  ADD and obsessive compulsiveness~ in meditation~ is called monkey mind, when your thoughts jump around and harrass you as if they are saying “whoo whoo, ha ha, you are never going to silence me.” 

And that’s the easy part.  Because those monkeys keep you from your dragons, of  shame, guilt, anger, jealousy, frustration. That all lurks below too, waiting for a silent opening. 

Don’t get me wrong, there is enjoyment and peace to be had too.  And a distancing from those strong emotions, which lose their grip on you when you realize they are just emotions, they don’t define you.  “It’s the whole catastrophe of your life,” as Zorba the Greek calls it, stopping by while you sit. Perhaps you are feeling some of this in quarantine.

We refer to it as the weather of your mind. Often pretty cloudy. “You are the sky. Everything else – it’s just the weather,” says Pema Chödrön.

Anyway, you catch glimpses of blue sky- vast and brilliant.  And those little gaps between the clouds, that stillness, that presence is fantastic and powerful, so much so that you are willing to sit through the bodily itches and emotional bitches to experience it again. It takes practice. 

Like anything, the more time you put in, the more you get out. After a while another amazing thing happens.  The clarity and calm you experience in meditation remains in you for when you are not in meditation.  This is a scientific truth. 

New neural pathways are made when you meditate. Like rain coming off a roof, we tend to gravitate toward the grooves in the sand that are already established.  Practicing new ways of being, provides new pathways we can build on, and access in crisis. Meditation doesn’t change your life – it changes your response to life. Your mindset, your joy, your blood pressure; they all improve. 

Other gifts of our ‘Present Reality’– We’ve got Time to Think. Process. Heal.  And Be Inspired. I’ve spoken to many friends and family for whom much is coming up.  It’s amazing what catches up with us when we just slow down a bit. It’s not all easy: losses, grievances, anxieties, as well as gratitude and perspective- everything is surfacing.  But, good will come of this.  New neural pathways are being formed, as we practice new ways of being.  Life after Corona will not be the same. I believe this gift, this present time, will make it better. 

So back to being for the birds.  The birds; smaller brained- no worries, living in the present, and somehow surviving that way.  Maybe even thriving. 

Before Corona I’d been thinking of Matthew 6:34, pictured above, alot. 

How true that was becoming in my life.  I found relief in the realization that nothing seemed to go as planned so why sweat the plans too much.  Crossing every ‘t’ had become futile, and was trying and exhausting anyway. So I started making plane reservations refundable, and not getting too crazy about exact details of plans because some new factor was always arising and I’d have to make a shift.  Going through this exercise repeatedly taught me to let go of controlling the future a bit, and to spend more time present. As noted on my yogi tea bag in the tea my son brought me in bed tonight

“When the dawn of simplicity comes in life, complications leave.”

Wait what? My son brought me tea in bed tonight? (Help, has hell frozen over?) We are supposed to be heading to South Africa. Not stuck here.  Quarantined, and sick. This was to be our special time to get away, and learn, grow, heal. But guess what? All those things ARE happening now, here at home.

This is the epiphany of Corona Quarantine; “The Power of Now,” as Eckhart Tolle calls it. We have been forced to stop this cultural tendency of constantly doing and producing, and instead, are spending time as caring, loving, creative humans beings.

Medical workers refer to the disease as “The Beast.” This is true. It is nasty.  If Corona is a force of darkness, then this Presence we are experiencing, today, is mostly certainly the Light shining through.  

Below find two absolutely positively brilliant and moving creations by inspired human beings, revelling in the present moment. If you don’t have time for both–find it.  A young woman, Akaine, gifted with art and introspection…  And David Whyte, the poet of all poets–has got Camino de Santiago back on my bucket list.  See, there I go again~ back to the future …Ugh.  It really is a practice of return.