A few weeks ago, before the reality of the coronavirus truly came to our doorstep, I had a rather strange removal from my everyday life.
As I settled in to bed, I did the normal routine — drink water, plug in my phone and meditate for a few moments to fall into a lovely sleep. And off I went into a nice dreamlike state for the next eight hours.
Upon waking the next day, I rolled over to grab my cellphone to check the time. Oddly enough it had not taken a charge during the night and was on 24 percent. Panic sets in. I quickly call my carrier’s number and they check the account telling me I can spend some ridiculous amount on a new phone. Hmm. I jump on the internet and send a message to The Hub here in town. They write back immediately saying I can try to come in the shop and use the charger they have to see if we can see what might be the problem. I then quickly call my dad with 12 percent left. We are on the family plan so I ask him to double-check our warranty as I had the phone for less than a year. 4 percent left. I quickly write down a few phone numbers I may need and power it down in case I need it for a few more moments later on. My life turns to black. I am without a cellphone.
I make my way to The Hub, and we try a different charger. No luck.
Returning home I check my email and to my surprise my dad has responded that the phone is under warranty and I will be shipped a new one by tomorrow! Phew. Panic dissipates. I will only be out of touch from life for maybe 24 hours. What relief! This comes especially so because I had taken myself off of Facebook the past two months after having a back injury, which took me out of commission for a month this holiday season. I felt as I was lying down to ice it that I was scrolling mindlessly a little too much. In an effort to spend my forced down time more wisely I put a much-needed pause on my Facebook account.
Now, without a cellphone and no internet connection to friends (I don’t Instagram or Twitter), I am truly sitting in peace from the outside world. I should take the next two days to enjoy this.
And so I do, for what turned out to be three weeks! Blame it on the mail system, the phone carrier I use or mercury in retrograde at the time, whatever the reason I was in this state of removal for way longer than anticipated.
Those three weeks turned out to be a wonderful gift for me. I was forced to remove myself from the everyday stress that having a cellphone in your hand can lead to. The constant checking in on social media, the scrolling, the news updates, but what about the state of panic we find ourselves in at this moment today? Now more than ever we are relying on the news and the connection of updates as we are in a state of crisis. I am sitting here wondering how I can take that lesson from a few weeks ago and transfer it into a sense of calm in the midst of madness.
Perhaps each of us can take this time to not be so directly tuned in at every moment to fear during this time. Maybe we can stay connected only to be given the facts that are of dire importance, but then for the remainder of the time try to engage in a calming state of mind. We are being forced to go within, to be at home, to spend time with only our immediate family. The world is slowing its pace, for once. And we must try to find what that means for each of us. Instead of scrolling through fear-based posts, can we take a moment to meditate? Or look at the stars with our children? Or lay with our pets and brush them with intent? Or cook food to give to a neighbor in need?
We have no idea what may happen in the coming weeks and months. It is scary. It is worrisome.
In a practice called “commit to sit,” there is talk about how in Japanese culture there is a word, “ma,” which describes the space between things. It is what makes Japanese art and gardens so unique. There is attention brought to the gap, the pause, so that you can really see the things such as the beauty of the tree, the stone and shape of a branch. Perhaps during this time of self-isolation we can take a moment to pay attention to the space between each of us. We can reflect on what we have in life, what we are grateful for, and how to celebrate each moment for what it is. Now more than ever we need to remain calm, find mindfulness and be there as a support system for one another.
There is no telling what will happen day-to-day. Today we must live in the moment. Be still. Be love. And take care of each other and ourselves.