From Sati Sangha and Pine Street Sangha

The Coronavirus reveals just how uncertain things can become. Health news changes daily, hourly. New cases are being diagnosed. New routes of transmission are being considered. This is destabilizing and scary. Even in times like this, we are careful about what we suggest to our sanghas because we know one suggestion will not work for everyone.

Right now we suggest finding some stable ground, comfort, reassurance within. Finding stability in uncertainty can be helpful, especially if you are finding yourself triggered or activated by past traumas. The stability here is not looking for something permanent, but more like finding your pair of supportive shoes when you are going on a topsy turvy hiking trail, or checking your oil and tires before you leave on a road trip. Curiosity seems to come more naturally when we are less reactive and overwhelmed.

After taking refuge in some stable ground, there’s lots to reflect upon that cuts right to the core of dharma and how we teach reflective meditation.

How we handle the uncertainty depends so much on where we live, our age, our health, and the other people that are close to us and far away; our plans and arrangements for travel, for conferences, for being with loved ones. All of it can feel Important. So, to take what is important and go into an internal process, gives you a chance to get some clarity on what is stirred up for you. This is practice. You have been training for it, and now you have time to use it, put it into action.

Perfection is impossible, though it might seem protective. There‘s no perfect way to meditate, that works for all of us all of the time. Trying to meditate perfectly is a recipe for meditators guilt or meditators narcissism — depending on how well you think you’ve met the benchmark.

We all have been bombarded with information about how to handle the Coronavirus. There are so many suggestions that are necessary, and will create new habits for us regarding public health. We will not all be able to follow them perfectly, and it is likely we will make mistakes, but the stakes can seem higher when life and death may be tied to how we act. The existential reality that we are going to die someday may seem closer to us now.

When we’re uncertain and scared we’re prone to create stories that are rife with too much certainty. Even if the stories we create are awful, they give us a sense of control and that can be relieving in itself. Free floating fear can be harder to tolerate. Do you have an obvious or more subtle story you tell yourself about the virus? Might you loosen it up a bit?

From Nelly: “There are many decisions that aren’t clear. I’m scheduled to go to Seattle next week-end to a square dance party, with about a hundred people. Seattle is the US epicenter for the virus and square dancing entails continual touching of other dancers’ hands, the very activity that they are telling us not to do. And should I fly into the Seattle airport in a plane, a petri dish for viruses?”

From Linda: “After talking with everyone involved, we are going to cancel the March Questhaven residential retreat. It is the cautious, safest move. Thankfully, I know how to put together an online retreat and it works. We all took time off, made room in our schedule to retreat. If anyone else is interested, let me know. Also, Nelly and I have another online retreat planned for April.”

We think the best response to this virus is kindness and caring, both for yourself, the people in your life, and the healthcare workers who are leading the way through this epidemic.

Linda Modaro and Nelly Kaufer