April 15, 2020
Words from Imagine, the John Lennon song of 1970, “Imagine all the people … Sharing all the world,” echo through the banks of memory as I gaze upon the streets of today’s world. Sidewalks and asphalt streets are empty and void of the once-bustling commerce of small and large businesses. Where are all the restaurants and coffee shops where one could map out their dreams alone, or with others? Where are those others? Where is the touching, shaking hands and hugging of one body to another? Where are the socializing, the exchange of ideas, the gatherings that help some to know they are not alone in the world? As a means to finding community at a time of social distancing, neighbors in North Seattle, fling open their front doors and sing songs together at dinnertime. The other night, they sang the Beatle’s song, “Yellow Submarine.” This is a new custom that began in Wuhan, China and migrated to Italy as they began lockdown. The neighborhood communal choirs seem to lift the collective spirit and feel the warmth of community that soars beyond all technological creations.
Yes, it is surreal, isn’t it? It feels as if we have all stepped onto the pages of a science fiction novel or a vacuous film of humanity’s future. That which was once projected into an unknown time is now here in our lifetime.
Today, I ventured out into streets that are eerie and empty of the life and people they once knew. They wait, as we all do to once again resume past activities. Playgrounds, ball parks, golf courses and tennis courts must await the pitter patter of little, and big feet upon the tarmac of their earth’s surfaces.
Where are all the people? Are we taking this time as “shut-ins,” as a self-retreat, or, are we viewing it as an imprisonment waiting to be released? Those of us in Yoga, who at times would long to retreat into a cave in the high Himalayas, may welcome this as an opportunity to temporarily withdraw from the world and retreat into ourself. Thanks to the practice of Yoga and meditation we may now have the ability to withdraw the senses from the external into the internal wonder of the worlds within. This is known in the ancient language of Sanskrit, as pratyahara, meaning sensory withdrawal that is a prelude for concentration and meditation.
It is interesting that the first symptom of Covid-19, is the absence of smell and taste. The sense of smell relates to the first cakra, the muladhara, which means base support. The sense of taste relates to the second cakra in the pelvic plexus, svadhisthana, which literally means establishing one’s own place within the eternal cosmic vibration. Perhaps at this time, we are all grounding in the base of our being in order to establish our new place and centeredness within the eternal cosmic vibration. Perhaps we are all shedding the forms of the past in our evolutionary collective journey back to our source. Could this novel coronavirus actually be a catalyst to bring us together in the remembrance of our common values and common humanity?
It is said that, when in meditation, God speaks and we listen. When we pray, we speak and God listens. This is a time for many prayers. I pray and hold in the light of consciousness those who are afraid, afraid of the unknown and all it represents. I hold in my heart all those health workers and caregivers who selflessly risk their own health and even their life to be there for others at their greatest time of need. I hold in my heart all those who are suffering with symptoms and struggling with the life force of the breath. At night in meditation, I hold in my heart, the families that could not be there to hold their loved one’s hand and whisper in their ear that they are ever with them, that they are never alone! At night, when the world is even more silent, I sit in that silence and feel the waves emanating out from my heart and mind, embracing those without food and shelter from storms, either around them or the storms within them. For some, this new virus may bring up fear, which sparks the ultimate fear of the unknown. What does the future hold?
I join the choir of those who believe that we can’t fully go back to the way things were. Even if our jobs or our life’s work may be waiting, there is a change. A change that may have survived the virus, the stock market plunge, the closure of a business, or the loss of income. As many say, we can’t go back, but we can go forward. Perhaps the growing divide we witnessed in the past through political chasms with family, neighbors and friends might now receive an opportunity for healing. This new virus, named because of its appearance, reminiscent of a crown or a solar corona, the light of which emanates from the outermost part of the sun, may be giving a glimmer of light in what appears to be our darkest hours.
Om Shanti Shanti Shanti. Peace within ourselves, peace with all those within our life, peace within our world.