As a Center focused on teaching mindfulness, resilience, and self-compassion, we are in the business of supporting our community during the challenging times of life. Each of us has had a personal experience of the transformative power of mindfulness practice, and so we offer it outwardly as a gift with reverence and longing to help. Just like all human beings, we experience fear, anger, grief, and sadness, and it is our continued practice that sustains us.
These are unsettling times, and we are all looking for some ground to stand on. We’d like to take a moment to share with you how some of us at GRCFM are coping in these unprecedented times. We hope this inspires you to discover what practices support you.
Jeni Juarez, Office Manager:
It’s very easy to get overwhelmed these days. With a compromised immune system, a 3-week old baby, two older kiddos not in school, and my husband and I both working for small, local businesses, there have been plenty of moments in which fear has taken up residency in my thoughts and my body. I’m very grateful for the tools I have learned in my yoga and mindfulness practices to support me in these challenging times.
Many practices and mindfulness techniques have helped me stay grounded, present, and wise: practicing lovingkindness meditation, anchoring to the moment through my feet and breath, reading uplifting books (currently reading Be Love Now by Ram Dass), sitting in my front yard and breathing in fresh air, enjoying a pose or two on my yoga mat, cooking and baking with my daughters, talking on the phone with friends and loved ones, watching joyful/positive movies (and seriously moderating my news intake), and taking naps—just to name a few.
My needs change daily, and so do my practices. What has helped the most, though, is just embracing this slower pace of living and accepting that: 1) things have always been uncertain and subject to change, 2) just as quickly as things have changed, they will change again, and 3) it is okay to just be instead of always trying to do. Hang in there, everyone – and remember: you’re not alone!
Ashley Bovin, Marketing Manager:
My experience so far has reminded me of a quotation I’ve heard in many contexts, but originally from the Greek poet Archilochus: “We don’t rise to the level of our expectations, we fall to the level of our training.” So far, I haven’t been sitting diligently in meditation every day, but it’s amazing how some of my past training has shown up for me when I’ve really needed it.
On one of the first nights when the new reality was setting in, I had trouble falling asleep. (I admit, this was after I had been scrolling social media, flooded with Coronavirus news and reactions, up until bedtime). I woke up in the middle of the night, worried about my health, the health of those I love, and what the future would look like for all of us. Before my brain could start telling stories about how I couldn’t fall back asleep, or start spiraling deeper into anxiety, instinctively, I began repeating lovingkindness phrases in my head:
May all beings be safe.
May all beings be happy.
May all beings be healthy.
May all beings live with ease.
Because of my past self-compassion practice, I knew what I needed at that moment. I was able to drift back to sleep and woke up feeling mostly rested.
Remembering that I’m not alone, and we’re all experiencing this—the fear, the challenges, and even the beauty and creativity that comes from it all—has been a huge piece of my response to the pandemic. I’ve had a couple video chats with my close friend groups, and I know there will be plenty more. We’re all a bit bewildered, but it helps to know we’re moving through the unknown together.
I’ve more or less accepted that this is what is happening right now, but I have days when I’m more positive than others. There are days when I feel tears starting, and I let myself cry and feel rather than hold back. Allowing self-compassion, and remembering our common humanity and need for connection, have been essential practices for me lately.
Carol Hendershot, Owner and Instructor:
The last thing I want to do right now is to lean into the discomfort and fear. But experience tells me that it is the wisest thing I can do. Believe me, I’ve tried the opposite approach and I know it just makes things worse.
So, what does it mean to lean in? First, I name it: “fear…fear…” or, “anxiety…anxiety…” and that somehow takes the sting out and starts the unwinding process. Next, I sit down and take three deep breaths. When I feel ready, I do a really quick body scan to find where the fear has lodged itself in my body. My mind really doesn’t want to go there, but I keep pulling myself back to the tightness in my chest or the lump in my throat. If I can stay with that vice around my heart, I start to notice it softening a bit, at least enough to take a few more breaths.
When the fog of fear in my mind clears enough, I start to recite all of the things that I know make me feel better. Even if I’m not quite ready to do anything yet, making a list helps until I stumble on an action I can take.
Maybe it’s a yoga stretch, getting outside and going for a walk, or texting one of my kids or a friend. I remind myself that I have people that I love and that love me; that I have this incredible support staff at the center who keep on doing what they do so well. Once my mind gets on that track, the anxiety fades and I start to feel grateful. Wow! What a difference. Then I remind myself that, “this too will pass.”
Next, I go to the refuge of my meditation cushion or my yoga mat, or I give my husband a hug. These are the practices that sustain me. And sometimes, I can even feel thankful for those past struggles that brought me here.
Finding Your Own Way Through
As you can see, the way we’ve met and gone through the past week has looked different for each of us. There is no right way to see your way through this time, and even what works for you personally might look different from one day to the next, or even moment to moment. Now more than ever, we will benefit from listening to our inner guidance – the intutive heart – to hear what our next step is. Taking even a moment to be still and present with your breath will unlock the path to your own ease during the storm.
Please let us know what is helping you get through this moment in time! Share your practice on our Facebook Page – you never know who you might inspire or support. And if you aren’t quite sure what works for you yet, head over to our new YouTube Channel for a few of our favorite, short meditations.
We are here for you! Watch our website and newsletters for more ideas from our staff and teachers.