Losing all the activities and communities I love in one fell swoop was too much.
First, we moved the YoWo (Yoga + Worship) class I teach online. The same day my yoga studio closed for operation. A few days later, the YMCA closed. Churches closed for public worship.
I. Was. Freaking. Out.
I honestly don’t have major meltdowns about too many things any more (Thanks meditation/yoga!), but I truly was worrying about how I would survive the social distancing. “What was my problem?,” I questioned. I already work at home. No big deal there. I live within walking distance of four grocery stores. No worries there. I can still run, walk and bike in the neighborhood that I love. No disruption there.
It was the loss of community. Because I’m an extrovert who works at home and lives alone, I rely on my activities — my yoga studio, my gym, my church — for the social interaction I need. The thought of not seeing my friends for weeks, possibly months, was/is killing me. Writing those words, grief pooled in my belly, rising up to my heart, that welled up into tears.
I let myself feel that grief, that impending disconnection and moved into creativity mode. Like a good tech nerd who happens to be an organizing extrovert — I started to reach out. I scheduled a wine date with some friends on videoconferencing. I took two yoga classes streaming online through my very resilient and adaptive yoga studio. (Thanks Yoga on High!) Grocery store clerks have become even more my friends than they already were. I attended my church’s first live-streaming service that included lots of chatter in the Facebook comments section. Houses of Worship are using their bells to call us to regular prayer at the same time, even if we are physically distant.
Even more importantly, I’ve had friends text or call to see how I’m doing. I’ve reached out to a few myself. I’ve begun sending more cards and notes than usual.
I think the key to our survival is not really social distancing. (Though that is a necessary and important physical practice right now.) The key is binding together. Finding ways to connect even with the current limitations. Finding ways to help the effort to keep people healthy, safe and calm using whatever gifts we have. (I just love the people sewing medical masks to share!) Introducing yourself to your neighbor and offering/receiving help if needed.
Perhaps this common cause, this common challenge, this common disruption, is teaching us how much we need each other. In what have been incredibly divisive and painful times, this shared experience is helping us rediscover our common humanity, even as we shelter in place. We needed to do this long before this virus struck.
Take a moment as you read the conclusion of this post to make a comfortable seat, close your eyes or soften your gaze, focus on your breath and direct that breath to your heart. Feel warmth and light of your heart begin to pool in your heart, then spread to the rest of your body. Pause. Then, direct that pooling warmth of love to the people in the building you’re in, then to your neighborhood, your town or city, stretching out as far as it can go. Perhaps connecting with the heart energy of anyone in your field. Slowly release the practice and bring that love back to your own heart, perhaps stronger than when it started. Rest in that energy as long as you like.
Sense my heart energy going out to each person who is reading this post. All my love to you.