The UK’s integrative cancer care charityHelpline 0870 163 2990

All Blog Entries

Day at a time, Life as our teacher, 20/4/2020

21 Apr 2020

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

As I was walking the dogs today, I found myself reflecting on the fact of having our beautiful boy at home. He came back from a year in America just 2 weeks before lockdown and we are in a period of settling back into living together, with us respecting him as an adult and him behaving like an adult (he turned 18 in January). When the lockdown first occurred, my husband and I both felt that it was going to be particularly difficult for him and in turn us. He was really enjoying seeing all his friends again and hoping to get a job. Initially, he was angry, but he moved through that pretty fast and it is turning out to be a really positive period for us as a family. We are enjoying each other’s company in a different way – not as parents to child but more good friends co-habiting. We are able to see him with fresh eyes and appreciate all the growing up he has done. He is respectful of our shared spaces and clears up after himself (his bedroom is a different story), he appreciates what we do for him and he helps out in the garden and with the occasional cleaning of the house that we all get around to. He’s not perfect and neither are we, but we are all more accepting of each other. We are having a really good laugh together. Living with our son is like living with Jim Carey and I haven’t giggled so uncontrollably and so much for years. I love this and the added benefit of it being so good for the immune system!!

Believing that life is our teacher is an immensely empowering way of facing challenges. In the past, I remember saying that my son is my teacher as he tested my patience beyond its limits. It was the same during major illnesses – what am I learning through this, what is the message. Now living in this period of uncertainty is an opportunity to be with what is. We can judge Covid-19 as a great misfortune, like my husband and I did in terms of how it would affect our son, or we can remain open to possibility. It is so easy to judge things as good or bad, to pre-judge how life will turn out. The practice is remaining open to how things are and letting them unfold without resistance, in other words, equanimity, being with the pains and pleasures with even-handedness. A full acceptance of the moment puts the body into a state of relaxation – no resistance, no pushing away, no pulling and when the body is relaxed the immune system can function effectively and we can think clearly and make decisions wisely.

I feel immensely grateful for the teachings of Buddhism that have prepared me for this time and for the course A year to live (based on Stephen Levine’s book) that I spent the previous 12 months studying and practicing on. This is basically a course in impermanence, coming to the realisation that everything changes – we are of the nature to grow old, we are of the nature to die, all that we hold dear to us is of the nature to change and there is no way to escape being separated from them (from Thich Nhat Hanh in the Plum Village Chanting Book).

Whether we are basically healthy at the moment or have a terminal illness, none of us knows how long we have to live. Life only unfolds in moments. The healing power of mindfulness lies in living each one as fully as you can.

Jon Kabat-Zinn