Saturday, March 21, 2020
Dear friends and family,
I hope you are all doing well and remaining healthy. I'm feeling called to share something I wrote that came from my work with with inquiry and the pandemic. What helped me could be of use to someone else looking for peace in this very surreal world we inhabit.
Symptoms of Peace in a Pandemic
If you are like most people on the planet Earth right now, then you have most likely been experiencing a lot of fear. There is an undercurrent of fear coursing through the veins of humanity as many of us contemplate planetary doom. After all, there is a virus spreading around the globe leaving death and suffering in its wake. It's perfectly natural to feel anything from unease to full-on panic. The precautionary measures being taken to limit social gatherings and thereby slow the spread of this virus, though helpful and necessary, have contributed to the growing fear many people are experiencing. Fear is not a problem. It's the body's natural response to external circumstances. A biological survival mechanism in the human entity. But it's also an invitation to look deeper and to investigate the purpose and origins of fear.
What is it you are really afraid of? I invite you to sit with that question for a couple of minutes and possibly even make a few notes.
Are you afraid of dying? Are you afraid of suffering? Are you afraid of someone close to you dying or suffering? What is it that triggers fear? It might be helpful to envision your worst-case scenario for this pandemic. We typically try to avoid thinking about such things but remain governed by the stories that play over and over.
I did this and came up with a scenario of Trey being patient zero in Asheville who contracted the virus from one of his Uber passengers. He had a slight cold before all of the social distancing measures took place and didn’t think much of it. Little did he know he was a carrier of the virus. He then he proceeds to spread it to everyone he encounters. His friends, family and passengers start getting sick and dying while he remains fine. Investigators looking for the common thread in these cases trace the source back to me. My picture is on the news warning people who have had contact with me to get tested. I’m guessing some variation of this scenario is playing in the minds of many right now.
After letting the mind ruminate on fearful stories, I invite you to investigate what fear feels like in the body. Sit quietly with your eyes closed and get in touch with fear. Rather than turn away from it or distract yourself from feeling it, feel it. Experience it. What does it feel like to be afraid? Is there tightness in part of the body? Is there a tingly sensation, vibration or a sense of numbness somewhere? Really look. See what it is to be afraid on a physical level. How the body reacts to fear.
Once you get a feel for it, take away the label of “fear.” Without the word fear to describe the experience, what is it? What is this tightness or nausea or dizziness or whatever feeling you are experiencing, without the word “fear” to hold it all together? It is an energetic experience. A cluster of sensations. Notice that you are aware of these sensations, but the sensations are not who you are. You are not the sensations because you can witness them. If you were these sensations, then you would not be able to notice them because you would be one with them.
Now, ask yourself, “What is it that is aware of the sensations in the body?” Then, direct attention toward the aware space around these sensations. See if you can get a feel for this empty aware space that notices the body's sensations, as well as thoughts. Notice that there is a Stillness, with no objective qualities, that surrounds these sensations and thoughts. What is that?
There's something that we could call a witnessing presence that serves as the backdrop of all experience. That aware presence cannot be seen, heard, or in any way be defined. But it can be experienced. The experience of it could be called Peace. Some teachers refer to this as finding your True Nature. With its discovery, you realize that you are the peaceful backdrop of all experience and not the person who is experiencing it. To know that is to be free.
No matter what happens, what you truly are (Peace, Stillness, Awareness) will be unaffected. What you truly are is what remains eternally present, witnessing as things come and go, in an omnipotent alive energy that holds everything.
Recognizing yourself as this aliveness puts feelings like fear into perspective. It's just an energetic experience in the aware space that contains it all. Our True Nature is unaffected by what happens to the person. The human being, like everything else in existence, is just an experience.
So, what happens to the Trey as patient zero story when seen from this perspective? Well, he becomes more conscious of germ spreading, starts sanitizing more often, goes grocery shopping and begins distancing. But I now see that Trey is a cell in the organism we call the Universe. And that cell will fulfill its purpose. Trey certainly wouldn’t have chosen to be the cell to carry a virus that could inflict harm on other cells. But if that’s what happened, he had no choice but to be that one. Nature, in its infinite wisdom, is running everything. Trey can now experience a sense of Trust, that no matter what happens, all is as it was meant to be. Nature is experiencing an infinite number of cells, each of them fulfilling their purpose for the overall good of the organism.
All cells will die, but Nature never does. Nature is currently using the Trey-cell to invite the you-cell to consider the possibility that you are not the cell, but actually that alive space of Nature that experiences the cell. Nature is encouraging you to go look for your Self and see if you find One? Feel free to report back your findings, if you find anything, or even if you don’t 😊
Rx for impending doom:
Go for a walk in Nature. Spend time smiling at the plants, trees, sky, clouds, etc. Express your gratitude for the opportunity to experience Life in all its richness. Remember that whether it's beautiful forests, sunsets, wars or plagues, Nature is at work. Inhale the breath of Nature. Let it fill your lungs with alive energy. What a gift it is to exist and witness this awe-inspiring Universe unfold.