Feeds:
Posts
Comments

My dear friends,

How are you keeping?  I’ve been away from this space for a long while, waiting.  Waiting for something useful to say.  Waiting for something inspirational – hopeful – motivational….To quote my practice buddy from my Yoga training, “I got nuthin’.”  And there’s the truth of it.  I feel like I’ve got nuthin’.  There’s just too much.  Too much going on.  Too much information being slammed down my throat.  Too many decisions to make.  And not enough peace to put the puzzle together.  Truthfully?  I’m at a loss.  I think I’m at a loss because I want something nice to say and, again, I got nuthin’.  So maybe, MAYBE, I need to just say what I think is not-so-nice.  And that not-so-nice piece is:

What the fuck is going on?

We’re 4 1/2 months into a pandemic, a situation where an invisible force is killing millions, and we’re pushing to “move forward into the new normal”?  I just don’t get this.  I feel like I’m caught up in a mob and I’m being pushed along in a direction I’m not sure I want to go in.  So here’s the other not-so-nice thing I’d like to say:

SLOW THE FUCK DOWN!!!

This that we’re going through is a massive piece.  David Whyte, the poet, considers this to be a time of pilgrimage, a time of sacred journeying where we leave all that we’ve even known to move off into complete mystery.  We are pulled towards the magic of the horizon, helpless to resist the call, even though we have no idea what or who awaits us there.  In the end, we realize that it’s never been the physical destination we needed to find.  What we needed to find lay deep within us.  We have always been the destination and the way.

If you’ve ever been on a pilgrimage, you know that the middle ground of the voyage is daunting.  You’re too far in to turn back and you’re not so sure where you’re going exists anymore.  You hurt.  You’re beyond weary.  You’re not sure you have the stuff to get you through to the end.  You’re pretty sure you’re going to die.  And, in fact, some part of you always dies along the way.  Pilgrimage rips you open.  It exhausts you so that you have no choice but to feel.  It’s only in feeling and moving forward from that place that you can ever reach god, the sacred place inside of you that has always been there.

Where are we being given the chance to feel now?  The level of global grief is unspeakable.  We grieve a sense of loss of freedom.  We grieve being unable to connect when we’re absolutely terrified.  We grieve not being able to say goodbye to our cherished loved ones.  We grieve not being able to perform the rituals our souls require when we lay our loved ones to rest.  We grieve the loss of so many businesses, the economic babies of our community members.  We grieve the loss of our jobs.  We grieve a sense of financial independence.  And on.  AND ON!

And still we need to push forward, “to open up the economy.”  Here’s the last not-so-nice thing I’d like to say:

Fuck your economy.

My friends and their friends, and their cousins, husbands, wives, nieces are on their knees.  We’re all on our knees right now, in the middle of the path, partway through a pilgrimage we aren’t sure will ever end.  Hearts have been blown open and are bleeding onto the streets.  There is a sense of loss that runs so deep that there is no sound; it’s beyond sound.

Once when I was on a 2 week canoe trip, one of my fellow travellers broke her arm.  We did not rush and slam her arm into a sling and push forward.  We did not make the end point our focus.  We made her pain our focus.  We made her suffering our focus.  We made her safety and comfort our goal.  So I, for one, will take a moment here as we trudge our way through this pandemic, and take a holy pause.  You will find me sitting on my pack along the side of the trail, quiet, silent.  My eyes will be closed but I will feel you.  I will feel the impact of the weight you’re carrying.  It will register with me.  It will mix with my energy, my cells.  We will become One (as we have always been).  And while you may not hear it with your ears, your soul will pick up the sound of the mantra I silently chant for all of us:

GATE GATE PARAGATE PARASAMGATE BODHI SVAHA

A mantra for all who are pilgrims,  all of us, whether we recognize it or not.

“Going, going, going on beyond, always going on beyond, always becoming Buddha.”

Take your time, friend.  You will get there.  We will get there.  And in the end, we’ll know “there” has always been with us.  And we’ll do it together.

Safe travels and much love,

Tabitha

Unexpected Gifts

Rising Sun

Today the “pandemic panic” has softened.  Without the cloud of fear I can see more clearly bits of beauty that are always there.  I marvel at the crows involved in building a nest at the highest point of the evergreen across the street.  A mated pair, both are involved in the construction.  Their huge, dark shadows criss-cross the street as they gather nesting material.  One time it was a long piece of dried grass. Soaring to the very peak of the tree, and then inside the arch of the branches, the crow carrying the strand spent a good long time arranging the grass.  From my vantage point, it seemed to be weaving it with its beak and then tamping it down with its feet.  The process did not stop until the grass was just so.  One single strand of grass.  Just one.  How many times do I devote all of my energy, do I give such tremendous care and attention, to the one single thing in my focus?  I dare say I have a lot to learn from the Crow.

There are simple blessings coming out of this lock-down.  No, not lock-down.  “Slowdown” feels so much more gentle and accurate, if we’re willing to embrace the energy.  I’m remembering things I’ve long forgotten.  I’ve forgotten how much I love to make soup and bake savory muffins.  I’ve forgotten how much I love strong physical exercise.  I love to get my heart pumping and my blood moving.  The entire focus on the breath and the movement calms my mind. (The Yogis knew what they were talking about!)  I love to sweat.  When I do, my body feels strong and alive.  I’ve missed that.  I’ve forgotten that.  Until the slowdown, that is.

These days I’ve been granted the unspeakably sweet gift of life outside of the constraints of time.  That doesn’t mean lazing about all day long.  No.  There are still responsibilities that demand my attention.  Groceries still need to be brought into the house.  Bills still need to be paid.  But I can relax my grip on time.  I’m remembering how it is to say, “If not today, perhaps tomorrow.”  When I do that, I feel more expansive.  This is delicious for the woman who usually feels like the White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland, racing around, obsessed with duty and time.  Some long forgotten part of me can breathe again.  The walls of my rigidly constructed world have pushed back a bit.  I feel more space, more spaciousness.

I know this is a privilege that so many do not get to enjoy.  This is not a gift that I will squander. For the preciousness of it, I am grateful.

Have you noticed anything interesting arising for you in these times?  Any glimmers or whispers of things long forgotten?  I certainly do hope you are blessed by unexpected gifts.  Sometimes they are the things that make the unbearable a bit easier to shoulder.

Thinking of you and sending you so much love.

Tabitha

xo

While in the shower the other day, I was brought back to a conversation I had with a student right before this Covid-19 emergency broke wide open.  D. has a real interest in meditation and silent retreats.  That night she was asking me about the Vipassana retreats held up around Barrie, ON.  I’ve never attended these retreats but have met several people who have.  They’re intense.  10 days, 20 days, 30 days of silence and seated meditation.  In this tradition, food is limited, contact with others is prohibited, as is physical exercise, reading, writing, texting, and so on.  The day’s schedule is set and does not waiver.  Hours and hours of seated meditation with a videotaped teaching by Goenka in the evenings.  There is no hugging.  No consoling your neighbour should they fall apart.  No eye contact.  You exist within a community but are very much focused on being a single cell of the community.  These retreats are meant to take you deep inside. They turn up the heat of transformation.  They are meant to strip you down so you can emerge a truer form of yourself.

That night at the condo D. asked, “How do you prepare for one of these things?”  I had to admit that I did not know.

I remembered all of this the other day and, standing in the shower, I burst out laughing.  I spoke to D (possibly out loud just so I could hear a human voice) and said, “THIS! This is how you prepare.”  This strange Covid-19 situation.  Right now I think I would take it even one step further and say this is the retreat and this virus is our best teacher for it.  Nuts, right?  But hear me out.

We are being forced inside.  For those on total lockdown, care needs to be taken about how much food is consumed so that there’s enough to last the duration.  The rest of us are left to our own devices.  Many are able to work from home but many others, like myself, are out of work.  There is so…much…time.  And this is where it gets interesting.  Out of a regular routine, out of our connections to our work-time labels (teacher, engineer, etc.), nowhere to go because things are shut down, unable to meet up with friends and family to pass the time, our shit comes bubbling up.  We find ourselves heating up.  We become impatient, moody, argumentative.  We search everywhere for a distraction.  And let me tell you, there is no shortage of Covid-19 “distract yourself” stuff out there.  Online classes abound.  Downloadable colouring pages to keep the kids occupied.  E-books to read.  And, of course, there are all the streaming services offering visual entertainment to numb your mind.

But none of it really seems to be helping us feel better.  Everywhere I look people are freaking out.  But damnit, aren’t we making like it’s business as usual?  Hey, we have video conferencing and the internet!  We can keep working like it’s a regular work week.  Miss your Yoga?  Here are 3300 online options for you.  You, Yoga teacher.  You’re out of work?  How about filming some classes for sale, or record some meditations?

I’ll admit it, I’ve been sucked into it as well.  I’ve felt like a colossal failure for not hopping on the bandwagon when everyone else seems to have.  And then, last night, I came across this blessed quote by Emma Zeck:

With this open time

You do not have to write the next bestselling novel

You do not have to get in the best shape of your life

You do not have to start that podcast….

What if we became curious with this free time,

& had no agenda other than to experience being?

When I read those words, something in me let go.  This is no time for me to go on like nothing unusual is happening.  I’m on retreat.  This is no time for me to be a leader or a teacher.  I’m on retreat.  This is no time for me to spark up the old webcam and pretend like I have my shit together because, my friends, my life and everything all around me is on totally new ground, and my stance is pretty unsteady.

I’m on retreat.  Covid-19 retreat.  And so are you.  The whole world has joined this transformative process.  When I drop my trauma, my drama and my suffering for a moment, I am in absolute awe over this whole thing.  To stand here as a witness.  To know there will be another side to this and that I will likely be here to see that other side.  It is so intense it leaves me speechless.

The fire of deep transformation burns like nothing else.  It is meant to take us down and incinerate us so we can rise up, stronger than we were at the beginning.  Blacksmiths know this as they forge metals.  Alchemists know this as they use fire to transform materials to create something new and unique.  And Yogi-s know this.  So they fast and sit and meditate in silence for hours and days and years.

What would happen if we all symbolically stripped bare and sat right at the centre of this enormous fire?  I guess we’ll find out, hunh?  Cuz we’re in it, like it or not.  I do hope to meet you on the other side.  😉  I can’t wait to see what this Phoenix will look like.

Offering so much Love,

Tabitha

%d bloggers like this: