There is a practice in the Mindfulness Association Level 3 Insight training called – Resting in the Midst. It is my most valuable practice.
I have used it before, when travel plans have gone awry, when I have found myself stuck in situations that seem impossible to get out of, when I am overfull with things in life and when I am in emotional overload.
And, here I find myself once again ‘Resting in the Midst ‘ of Covid19 and the surreal, unprecedented, seemingly crazy situation I seem to be in just now. Not just me, but all of us, all over the world.
Every now and then a wave of anxiety comes over me. It’s bad enough going to the supermarket and not being able to buy my usual products – however being vegetarian does seem to have its advantages just now.
I find myself being judgemental towards all the people who have consumed all the toilet paper in the world and anything in a tin! It feels so eerie seeing bare shelves in the supermarket where there is usually abundance. It made me realise how spoiled we are. I felt gratitude for what I normally have.
It was so good to be with the participants and tutors of the Level 1 Mindfulness Training at Samye Ling last weekend. Things had changed there too. First of all we had 3 participants join us online. Despite scepticism it actually worked really well. The monks and nuns were serving all food and levels of hygiene and sterilisation were drastically increased. I then found myself chasing a train due to cancellations which would have made me miss my connection back to London. But a kind participant drove me 100 miles to connect with my train with 20 minutes to spare.
How eerie it was arriving at London Kings Cross at peak time rush hour where it is usually a heaving mass of people. This time I counted just 10 people at the station concourse and the train, usually standing room only, was half empty.
Fear of having my movements restricted seems to be the primary cause of my fear. Not catching the virus, not having enough toilet paper or food, but the feeling of being trapped. I can’t settle. Thoughts keep crashing through my mind as to where I should be if a total lockdown comes. Not being able to see my partner, friends, daughters or grandson is the strangest feeling ever.
I am also in the midst of buying a house. It has been fraught with unexpected delays and complications all the way through, and here we are, days from completion and Covid19 comes along to threaten that right through to the 11th hour!
Where should I go into isolation? I try to settle into my practice. But no my mind is just crazier than ever, plotting and planning. Should I stay in the house I am trying to sell. Even that has been a long enduring, uncertain process with Brexit, elections and now a virus outbreak in the way. Should I stay near my new house in the hope I can retreat there, even if it is devoid of furniture and household items. I get sucked into a vortex of thought that is so strong the only way I can pull myself back is using a guided practice from the Mindfulness Association App. You might like to try it too. Resting in the Midst Practice is in the Insight section.
In the practice we are guided to become aware of everything going on around us and in our minds. Seeing as my mind is going crazy and life has a surreal uncomfortable feel to it at the moment, a bit like a bad dream, I let go of all sense of trying and focus my mind on the voice in the practice and my breath.
I am aware of the crazy thoughts whirling and swirling round like a hurricane with me in the centre. I try to leave them alone and resist getting sucked in. I am aware of anxiety in my belly, and fear gripping my heart and just rest in the centre of it all. Nothing to do, nowhere to go.
And here we all are, nothing to do and nowhere to go as we go into lockdown. We can’t meet at cafes or see our families if they are ill. Schools, shops, theatres and social meeting places are gradually closing down. We are not used to it and we don’t like it.
All we can do is sit, and wait, resting in the midst of it all, surrendering to everything totally out of our control. And in this place is a stillness and opportunity to rest and slow down and just be – just for a while.
Wherever you are I wish you well. Hold tight, this too will pass.
I leave you with an inspiring poem by Kitty O’Meara for these extraordinary times
“And the people stayed home. And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still. And listened more deeply. Some meditated, some prayed, some danced. Some met their shadows. And the people began to think differently.
“And the people healed. And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal.
And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed.”
I invite you to take a pause and check in with your body, mind and emotions and notice how the current situation is affecting you. Become aware of everything happening for you right now in this moment. Bring awareness to your breath and a sense of compassion for yourself and everyone in the world affected by the virus outbreak which has united us with the awareness of common humanity. Is it possible to just rest in the midst of it all? I welcome your comments after this post or personal message at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Take care and keep well.
With warmest wishes
Jacky will be co-teaching on the Level 2 – Responding with Compassion with Heather Regan-Addis at Samye Ling Summer 2020.
We’d love to see you there.
Jacky has contributed a chapter to the Mindful Heroes Book entitled “Turning Empathic Distress into Compassion – A Hero’s Journey for Family Carers”. You can hear an extract from the chapter where she talks about the results of her MSc Studies in Mindfulness on Compassion & Family Carers. You can download a free sample of Jacky’s chapter here.