When I was in labor, when the pain medication wore off and I was still waiting for my epidural, I meditated as hard as I could. I focused on each moment as if my life depended on it, I geared up mentally to endure the pain that would come with each upcoming contraction. For those few hours (yes, it was a long wait!) I could do nothing else but focus on my breath. My eyes were shut the whole time; I was just trying to get through each painful contraction.
There is a lot of discussion about uncertainty in this age of the Corona virus. This morning I noticed my mind fluttering from what would be in a month, in a week. And then I recalled my labor experience, as well as my years of yoga training, and my body began to breathe deeply—deep belly breaths.
I’ve seen posts in Facebook groups about people under tremendous pressure. Their spouse is sick (not with Corona) and they are left to care for their three elementary-school-aged children—provide them with emotional support as well as assist them in keeping up with their virtual classwork.
I myself have one kid, a toddler who doesn’t have classwork (although she does have tantrums) as well as a helpful hubby. I see people struggling as with the example above and I just stare in shock. What a difficult and trying, as well as depressing and anxiety-provoking situation. “How am I supposed to get through all this?” they ask.
In each of our own ways, our individual circumstances, we are all overwhelmed. Even if we weren’t prone to anxiety before, we have likely encountered it under current circumstances. And if we were anxious before all this (myself included), well, this just exacerbates it.
Normally our mind takes comfort in fantasizing about the future: we look forward to an exciting vacation or dread an upcoming difficult work meeting. We assume these things will occur, as scheduled, and we picture how we will experience them. Indeed control is just an illusion, but it feels so real, and things usually end up at least partially as we expect, thus providing positive reinforcement for us to ponder future circumstances.
But this is not the case today, in the past few weeks our illusion of control has been popped, the metaphorical bubble burst—and ever so abruptly! And we are left in a state of shock and dismay.
In Eckhart Tolle’s book, The Power of Now, he writes about focusing on the Now, instead of dwelling on past pain or anticipating what is to come in the future.
The purpose of meditation practices is to strengthen one’s ability to live in the present.
In this time of great uncertainty, the world needs this now more than ever.