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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

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Good morning!  I love you and…

HOLY DAYS

We are in the depths of High Holy days for so many world religious and spiritual traditions.  This is a time when we can touch and express the best within us; we become the blessings of and for this world.  And so I would like to leave you with my favourite prayer of all time.  May it bless you.

May you know peace.  May you be at peace.  May you be peace.

Peace.  And so, so much love.

Tabitha

ps.  It’s been a joy sending these out to you!  xo


The Prayer of St. Francis

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.

O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Amen.

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Good morning!  I love you and…

THE SPARK

The human heart runs on electrical impulse.  At some point around 5 weeks in utero, the primitive heart begins to beat and keeps going for an entire lifetime.

What puts that spark there?

Love.  You!

Tabitha

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