Podcast – Covid Good
I learned a new term this week, as a response to people asking, “How are you?”. The answer is, “Covid good”. This comes from Brene Brown’s interview with Priya Parker, who describes “Covid good” as waking up, finding herself here, feeling this aliveness in her body, and making it through the day. Then every couple of weeks she completely falls apart and starts over again. These words came as sweet relief to me, because I’ve been in the falling apart part, again, this week. In the funky phase of falling apart, I forget that this is not the whole cycle, but just the middle-of-the-night part of a complete life.
For me, this funky time means lots of irritability, a strong urge to drive South Non-stop, for about 2,000 miles, and crying like the bruised blueberry, for joy or drama, daily, at least. I am reactive, at least on the inside, and I want to escape everything, even myself. I feel so sensitive.
Perhaps you, too, have been told that you’re sensitive, and this might be common to all of us on a “spiritual path”. I want to feel life, real life, AND I want to be able to manage this maelstrom without bursting into flames and maybe singeing others who are nearby.
Thank god for the artists, who can give shape to the murky mystery of feelings! I found solace in Rilke’s words this week:
Poet – Enter the breathing
You who let yourselves feel: enter the breathing
that is more than your own.
Let it brush your cheeks
as it divides and rejoins behind you.
…Fear not the pain. Let its weight fall back
into the earth:
for heavy are the mountains, heavy the seas.
The trees you planted in childhood have grown
too heavy. You cannot bring them along.
Give yourselves to the air, to what you cannot hold.
What I gleaned from Rilke reminded me of Priya’s cycle around covid: Breathe. Be here, let yourself feel, feeling this moment in your body. Turn towards the pain, then put it down. Rilke added this piece: surrender to something greater than just that little “I” sitting here. Maybe Priya’s naming her “Covid good” is the surrender, noticing when she has, once again, fallen.
What I love about these teachings is their reminder that I won’t always feel this way. Life is a cycle! Nothing that happens is going to last forever, although staying at home sure feels like it will, right now!!! It gives me courage to turn toward the pain and honor its presence. I have to let it take me down sometimes.
Patanjali – Meditation can help
Through meditation, I sometimes experience freedom from my ordinary, time-trapped, self-oriented mind. I may even “give myself to … what I cannot hold”. I believe that what I’m experiencing is truly real, and that I will remember this later, because it’s so clear, obvious even. I usually sit for about an hour each day, and I’m sure I am going to remember this “truth” but I usually don’t. When I see the unfinished paperwork on my desk, smell the cat box, sneeze into spring allergens, I don’t even remember to notice my breath. The features of the present moment feel so real and I am swept away, once again. However, it’s better than it used to be. I fall less frequently. I’m less offended when I do.
I pick myself up, again and again, and “enter the breathing”. The answer might be the breath, or any route for us to come back, back from the regretting, the future fearing or planning another trip. The yoga sutras tell us that we can experience our true selves, our true splendour, through practice: strong, persevering practice, for a long time (1.13,1.14). We practice remembering. Practice falling apart and practice coming back to breath. This is our best right now – Covid good.
Well friends, this is me, finding my breath again today. It’s helpful for me to share this story of my week with you, along with inspiration from the poets, the podcasts and Patanjali’s yoga sutras. I hope it gives you some relief.