Today we started the day with 108 sun salutations led by Amanda Topping, Live on her YouTube channel. A sun salutation is a yoga flow – that moves from standing, to plank, to a backbend, to down dog, to standing bent over, to standing up, generally speaking. Neither Jenn nor myself have ever done the 108 sun salutations before. Although, one month earlier, we went to a service we usually don’t go to at our zen buddhist temple the day of my wife’s father’s funeral. It was at 6am in the morning. We thought it would be a good way to start that day, in our spiritual space. One thing we were not aware of was that in this particular service that day they were going to do 108 prostrations. A prostration is a standing, to kneeling, to bowing and back up again movement. The service we usually go to is mostly meditation while sitting on a pillow. The service we attended that morning was the polar opposite of what I thought I agreed to that morning. I can’t decide which was more difficult – the 108 sun salutations or the 108 prostrations. I am thinking it may be the prostrations, since it caught me off guard. I did not choose to do them, I just chose not to quit once I was in it. While doing the sun salutations this morning I thought about quitting. I could have quit without anyone but Jenn to notice. I had foot pain so that could have been my crutch, but I chose to finish. I am super proud of us for doing them and was excited to let Amanda know that we joined her online.
This afternoon I was thinking about how through my journey with cancer there was the rhythm of the treatments, the adjustment to the scars, the fear of cancer returning, the fear of allowing yourself to feel okay once it is supposed to be gone. Each transition came with its phase of normalizing. After a while I became so used to these transitions that I could take a ten thousand foot view while I was still in the process. Intellectually I could remind myself that the new way of being would normalize eventually. The fear, frustration or whatever feelings I had would calm down. Even if only for a time because things will change again. Some transitions felt bigger or scarier than others but they all have followed the same arc.
Today I wondered about the arc of quarantine, of social distancing, of virtual hanging out with friends, of limited movement in this unique time. When will all of this normalize? It will, that is just how it goes. We are possibly in the phase where the initial shock is starting to wear off. We have all had the bad day or days, that honestly may still be happening. The days where the reality sinks in and the uncertainty gets the best of us. There may be anger, frustration, sadness, fear, anxiety. I can tell you from my personal experience, it will not feel this loud and this strong if we need to do this for a while. It will eventually quiet down in our minds and feelings will ease their grip, it will normalize. This does not mean we aren’t diligent, that we aren’t concerned for ourselves and others. It doesn’t mean we don’t care. It just means our bodies and minds have shifted perspective for our health and survival for whatever situation we are in.
For my work, once a week I meet with our clients who are in the women’s prison. Many of these women I met right after they just arrived there. Every week I meet with them to check in and see how they are doing. I watch them, over time, normalize to their daily reality. They do this for survival in a situation where they have little control.
I know I am personally riding this arc of becoming normalized to the conditions brought upon us due to Covid-19. I have not normalized yet. I know it will arrive eventually, the day that this is just how it is. Where the new rhythms of life have settled in the dirt. For now, I have choices – I can choose to hold these days in the gray fear and anxiety. Or I can choose to be in this moment. At this moment I have my health. At this moment I have my home. At this moment I have my family. At this moment I am warm and fed. At this moment I am alive.
I was told a few months ago that at some point in my growing up, I decided life had to be hard. It was time to let go of old beliefs and get off the struggle bus. Everyday I need to remind myself to make a choice, it’s not easy. It takes mindfulness and effort. There are some days I just choose to be gray but it is my choice to have those feelings flow through me. Then I choose to let them go.
We have choices everyday. We will move through this. Our minds are built to take care of us if we choose to work with it and not against it. The struggle bus is always running; it’s just our job to not take a long road trip.
Big deep breath in. Big deep breath out. Relax your shoulders. Repeat