There’s a koan in our tradition that goes like this:
A student asked a teacher, “When times of great difficulty visit us, how shall we greet them?”
The teacher replied: “Welcome.”
Times of unpredictability and upheaval are not only a good time to have a meditation practice, but are actually good for a meditation practice. They drive discovery and innovation and offer a unique opportunity to become more intimate with the workings of the universe and our own minds.
As I’ve been following the coronavirus stories, I notice I’m not freaked out by it. When I hear about people lining up to get into the grocery store at 6am a little voice inside me wonders, “Am I missing something?” But then I come back because I’m burning the pancakes. In my world, mostly things are proceeding as usual, though I’m more conscious of washing my hands and touching my face and sometimes I feel like a kid who’s eagerly awaiting a snow day.
I have noticed a subtle increase in activity in that department of my mind where gloomy fantasies are spun. Wisps of imagination quietly become questions that have never before seemed like serious considerations: Should I own a gun? How defensible is my home? Do we have enough cat food? I begin to wonder if those people on Doomsday Preppers had it right after all.
In a situation like this, it’s easy to think of meditation as a nonessential activity. While it is important to make sure we have enough toilet paper and dried pasta to get us through, the capacity to be present in this moment is just as important a resource as any other. In this moment I am well, my family is well. Blue birds chirp in the tree outside my office window and at the grocery store people laugh and are generous with each other. Things might be different in the future, but right now they are not.
Nevertheless, right now it seems that the most prudent thing to do is suspend our in-person events for the time being. This includes our weekly meditation and discussion group as well as our upcoming one-day retreat on March 28th.
Times like this are also a reminder of the value of community, that our very existence depends on our connection to one another, so we will continue holding events online through the user-friendly video conferencing app Zoom. Our weekly meditation and discussion group will occur at the same time (Wednesdays, 6:30pm – 7:30pm CST), and our one-day retreat will instead be a half-day workshop on crisis as a gateway into freedom (Saturday, March 28th). Please check the events on our MeetUp page for details about how to join us online and to stay apprised of any further changes.
As always, we are member-supported. If you feel you have benefited from our programs, please take this opportunity to give us some money by clicking the PayPal button below. This ensures that we’ll be a live and kicking resource for awakening through many more crises.
As usual, if you have any questions or concerns at all, feel free to reach out at ItsAliveZen@gmail.com
Wishing you health and happiness,