During the last outing before self-quarantine last week, I stopped by my daughter’s house. Of course, I couldn’t go in so I left a package on the doorstep and waved to the family through the kitchen window. Hilary came close and planted a kiss on the window. I kissed her back from outside, a heartfelt kiss smooshed on the glass. We laughed and I left.
A few nights ago, after a long day of zoom meetings, email, FaceTime, texting jokes, phone calls, I sat down to meditate before going to bed. The image of us kissing through the windowpane appeared, only this time it was accompanied by fearful wondering – when will I be with them again? Or see our littlest grandchild? The sitting was haunted by memories of our last times together. End of the day fatigue opened the door to fear – fear for loved ones, for InsightLA and our community, for financial survival, for all the vulnerable and marginalized people who fear for their jobs, for refugees, incarcerated people, houseless folks, elders, people who are already immunocompromised, for all parents and partners and kids and everyone who will suffer being cooped up together while we wait this out, and more. Fear was pandemic in our society before the spread of COVID-19 and now it’s rampant. Sitting quietly, tears came; I just needed to cry for a while.
Awake, aware, I acknowledged the fear, allowing the tears to flow. Surrendering to the tender sorrow with loving awareness and self-compassion, it eased. Fear gave way to peace, like calm after a storm. Sitting in the velvet darkness of night, I felt both the vastness of space all around us and our interconnection with one another. There was (and IS) profound gratitude for the practices of courageous awareness and compassion that help us connect with the innate resilience we all have. Resilience is a spiritual strength that can be cultivated with insight and tenderness; it is a gift of our practice.
There’s a widespread tendency to consider mindfulness and meditation luxuries for the privileged, something to do in the future ‘when I have more time.’ Mindfulness is not extra or an add-on; it is actually the ground from which we can stay strong and steady, essential to maintaining the good health of our bodies, minds, and hearts. Studies have shown that practicing mindfulness and lovingkindness actually fortifies the immune system! Our need for both inner strength and outer support are closely entwined.
Through our practice, we develop the courage and strength to overcome our fear and be more available to love. We are witnessing so clearly the reality of our interconnectedness and the natural inclination of our hearts to protect the most vulnerable. Let’s lend each other our support as we practice bringing the qualities of mindful, loving awareness and resilience alive. We’re actually surrounded by love and kindness, waving to us through the window!