One of my most empowering Covid-induced shifts has been taking greater ownership of my life experience. One day, the world was providing unlimited opportunities – gym classes, meditation groups, concerts, in person appointments, travel, etc. – and the next day, they were gone. The doors literally closed. No more gym, no more Zen Center, no more concerts, no more ease of appointments and definitely no more travel (though lots of airfare credit). The first-world silver-platter service I was accustomed to simply shut down.
Like many of you, I was initially stunned. And worried. And angry. And bummed. And I cycled (and still do) between those emotions for many months. But something else happened. This monumental pause propelled me to identify the people most precious to me and activities most sacred. And, I concurrently appreciated that if I wanted to stay connected and engaged in a fulfilling way, I had to figure out how to make it happen.
Some transitions were easy, like exercise. Though I miss my Body Pump classes, my daughters and I had fun exploring different exercise videos. Neighborhood hilly walks replaced my favorite hiking trails, card games replaced going to the movies and home-made meals replaced restaurants. My frenetic pace slowed down and there was more precious time with my husband and daughters. I even twice risked flying to visit my ailing father in New Orleans because he was more important than the risk. That part was lovely and relatively easy.
But other aspects of life required reevaluation, exploration and change. Meditating with my long-standing meditation group via zoom was wildly unfulfilling. Absent were the pristine meditation space, the guidance of a formal teacher, and the shared energy of humans sitting together in the same room. These were conditions that kept me motivated to meditate and I had become accustomed to them being provided for me. I was annoyed. This wasn’t working and, admittedly, had not be for a while.
So, I had to dig deep and remember why I meditate in the first place. I realized that I don’t primarily meditate because of the ambience, the teacher, or the collective energy. I meditate because it helps me feel better, manage life better, and have more clarity. When I reconnected with this awareness, I felt a renewed commitment to my meditation practice and tasked myself with creating the other parts. I set up a lovely meditation space at home, explored some new groups on zoom, and found not one but two teachers who resonate with my current state. I also realized that it was never anyone’s job to create my meditation experience in the first place. It was always up to me. And the same was true for many other aspects of my life in need of rebooting.
Whether by design or by accident, Covid is pushing all of us to lean in and press the re-set button. Like decade birthdays, serious health diagnoses, or midlife awakening, we have the chance to re-evaluate. I encourage you to consider if there is an aspect of your life that isn’t working. Perhaps it’s social, perhaps work, perhaps personal. Map it. (i.e, write down the issue in the center of a piece of paper and write down everything that comes us for you). Explore it. Identify what isn’t working. And most importantly, identify what it is you most want right now. Your answers may surprise you. And then experiment. Get creative. Challenge your existing conception. Odds are there’s something out there on zoom that could help.
For me, this aspect of Covid has been a precious and unexpected gift: the re-examination of what and who I most value, the reminder of what I take for granted, and the opportunity to re-align with my current self in fresh, innovative ways for which I am (and always have been) responsible.