With the Quarantine from this pandemic, we’ve all been deprived of the little rituals that used to make us feel part of a community: Can’t go to the coffee shop and order a latte, can’t go to a restaurant and sit next to talkative happy people, can’t go to concerts or movie theaters where we used to sit next to complete strangers and share an experience, can’t sit on a bus or in a traffic jam and feel part of something… Can’t go to work! Can’t visit with friends! Can’t hug ! Can’t get massages! Can’t go to the beauty salon or the barber.
Certainly working, getting hugs and visits with friends and family are genuinely satisfying, and perhaps we value them even more than before the pandemic. But the biggest portion of our current deprivations were actually pretty hollow imitations of community, a mind-massage that we were part of something feel-good. Not genuine community.
If you’re like me, you’re feeling a bit panicked right now, and needing a sense of community with a capital C, Community! And maybe we also need some new rituals, new wellness massages, exercise instead of the gym or classes. We need to give ourselves and our children, loving kindness in a whole new way: DEEP loving kindness.
Wikipedia defines “Community”: A community is a social unit (a group of living things) with commonality such as norms, religion, values, customs, or identity. Communities may share a sense of place situated in a given geographical area (e.g. a country, village, town, or neighbourhood) or in virtual space through communication platforms.
It also talks about a “sense of community” having 4 components:
1. membership: feeling of belonging or of sharing a sense of personal relatedness,
2. influence: mattering, making a difference to a group and of the group mattering to its members
3. reinforcement: integration and fulfillment of needs,
4. shared emotional connection.
For myself, I’ve begun interacting with a couple of spiritual communities, which have graciously been nurturing me, and given me the opportunity to nurture them as well, all in virtual space via Zoom or conference call.
In addition, I’ve started a new Empatharian Movement for Peace Group, and begun having Room meetings online. This is beginning to feel amazing- actually passing on this work to others, getting to know them, and sharing their experience of the movement.
My daily rituals are more structured, in some ways. And exercise is a big part of it.
I’ve been doing several movement practices, including the Empatharian “Stretch”, on a daily basis: back stretches, neck exercises, the yoga sun salutation, and a self-massage technique from Chi-Gong. I also run a mile in the morning, and walk my dog.
I’ve been gardening, sitting in the sun outside, getting my hands in the dirt.
I am doing contemplations and meditations, morning and night. As well as writing one or two blog posts a day. I feel like my day is quite full.
And yet, I give myself time to read a novel, or watch a Netflick, and I make calls to my family on the weekend. We do a lot of text messages and photos of the grandkids, who are in fact babies and toddlers. They are far away, and I had to cancel my trip to visit last month.
I make sure that I treat myself with extra loving-kindness, making sure I’m well fed with healthy food, herbs and vitamins. If I stay up late, I allow myself to sleep in. If I need to take a nap in the middle of the day, I do. If I don’t get all my rituals done, I’m okay with that. I do my best, and make choices based on what I need at the moment. I imagine that the quilt of my week will have some symmetry.
This pandemic has made me value myself more, helped me to be more mindful, and helped me to find more genuine community and a satisfying life. As I feel all of life being threatened with the Corona-virus, somehow I value life more, I’m motivated to make my life more meaningful and worthwhile.
For me, it’s been Stop Working and Get to Work! On a minute by minute basis, I’m more aware of my alignment with source, with purpose, and with emotional well-being.
And of course, when we’re able, I’ll be getting my latte’s, meeting friends for Sushi, and going to concerts and movies. But I can wait. This is a precious time of consolidating myself and what’s needed. I am meeting people online from all over the world, teachers, administrators, grandmothers. I’m inspired. They want to do this work! So do I.