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Day at a time, Body as a refuge, 15/04/2020

16 Apr 2020

A Day at a Time – A Daily Blog of Life in Lockdown

Wednesday early morning routine sculpt exercise class online followed by 45 minutes Qi Gong and I am feeling relaxed with my energy high ready for the day. On arriving at my cherished attic space for meditation and work, I notice my wind chime is no longer hanging in the window but on my desk. I pick it up to put it back and see my lovely son sitting on the roof enjoying his morning smoke! I issue a motherly warning about falling and damaging tiles which blows over him and I let it go (with my fostered by Covid-19 ability) and now sitting peacefully, all in its place ready to work.

Qi Gong as a moving meditation feels the perfect practice during this lock down where I am not out and about as much. Moving my body with the breath deeply relaxes my body and at the same time releases tension and stuck energy. I feel like I am entering into a new relationship with my body. When I first began meditating 14 years ago, the body scan was a practice I least enjoyed because I felt only a limited amount of sensation. I mainly avoided it. However, during a period of 2 years of more intense practice and study my body gradually opened up to me and I started becoming aware of the changing sensations of its landscape. Learning and practicing with different teachers in different traditions, particularly Reggie Ray of Dharma Ocean, brought an even greater attunement with my body. I feel like I am learning to listen to the body in a loving and disciplined way and gradually becoming more and more responsive to its messages.

Chatting to friends last night on Zoom, my friend a mother of 3 was saying how she is enjoying lockdown. They are lucky, living in the countryside in France with a house and garden. She is loving the fact that they are all at home and she is not spending her day ferrying the children to and from school or playdates or whatever. There is more time to be and to enjoy life. Many friends feel the same way and are noticing things they have never paid attention to before like the day by day slow opening of wisteria blooms or the richness of the birdsong. We do so much rushing around and travelling backwards and forwards to places whether for work, exercise, children, food whatever and we had grown accustomed to it. This giant pause feels pregnant with possibility for change as we reflect on how things were and appreciate this present time. As I write this, I am so aware of all the keyworkers out there allowing us to safely remain in our homes by maintaining food supplies and essentials and for risking their lives caring for the sick in hospital in harrowing circumstances. The phrase we are all in this together whilst true on one hand, says nothing about the widely different experiences that continue to divide us. There is immense suffering and sadness and also chaos and fear and what can we do but maintain our steadiness and inner strength amidst this. When we are centred, we can witness and observe what’s going on but stay balanced within and then we can act with compassion, doing what we can to support others.

Another e-mail has just arrived from the NHS to all those on the government’s vulnerable list of patients, which includes me. Whilst I don’t feel vulnerable, I feel extremely inspired and moved by the amount of support, encouragement and links to resources that the NHS and government are ensuring that people in this group receive. At the beginning it was daily text messages with clear guidance on how to self-isolate, shield and protect and how to maintain or increase sense of well-being. Now it is phone calls and e-mails to check that people are receiving the support they need including basics like food. It is a powerful recognition of the many people who live alone, are vulnerable and desperately need help at this time.

Hint: Maintain steadiness by focusing internally rather than externally to everything that is going on.

Practice: Use exercise, relaxation, martial arts and meditation to bring your attention into your body. Start listening to its wisdom. Try the body scan practice. Here is a link to the practice guided by Mark Williams.