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Mindfulness for Corona-times

If any of you have heard of Mary Oliver you will know what an absolute wonder she was with the written word, her poetry has such a quality mindful attention to them, and her poems are often used to provide reflection and insight in the mindfulness space.

Here is one written for this time, inspired by her poem 'Wild Geese'

By Adrie Kusserow

You do not have to become totally zen,
 You do not have to use this isolation to make your marriage better,
 your body slimmer, your children more creative.
 You do not have to “maximize its benefits”
 By using this time to work even more,
 write the bestselling Corona Diaries,
 Or preach the gospel of ZOOM.
 You only have to let the soft animal of your body unlearn
 everything capitalism has taught you,
 (That you are nothing if not productive,
 That consumption equals happiness,
 That the most important unit is the single self.
 That you are at your best when you resemble an efficient machine).
 Tell me about your fictions, the ones you’ve been sold,
 the ones you sheepishly sell others,
 and I will tell you mine.
 Meanwhile the world as we know it is crumbling.
 Meanwhile the virus is moving over the hills,
 suburbs, cities, farms and trailer parks.
 Meanwhile The News barks at you, harsh and addicting,
 Until the push of the remote leaves a dead quiet behind,
 a loneliness that hums as the heart anchors.
 Meanwhile a new paradigm is composing itself in our minds,
 Could birth at any moment if we clear some space
 From the same tired hegemonies.
 Remember, you are allowed to be still as the white birch,
 Stunned by what you see,
 Uselessly shedding your coils of paper skins
 Because it gives you something to do.
 Meanwhile, on top of everything else you are facing,
 Do not let capitalism coopt this moment,
 laying its whistles and train tracks across your weary heart.
 Even if your life looks nothing like the Sabbath,
 Your stress boa-constricting your chest.
 Know that your ancy kids, your terror, your shifting moods,
 Your need for a drink have every right to be here,
 And are no less sacred than a yoga class.
 Whoever you are, no matter how broken,
 the world still has a place for you, calls to you over and over
 announcing your place as legit, as forgiven,
 even if you fail and fail and fail again.
 remind yourself over and over,
 all the swells and storms that run through your long tired body
 all have their place here, now in this world.
 It is your birthright to be held
 deeply, warmly in the family of things,
 not one cell left in the cold.

With Mindfulness meditation there is often the misconception that we are aiming to find a state of peace, calm, that we solve all our problems. That really isn't the premise of Mindfulness, it's about being with all that is in existence, attentive, in the moment, without trying to alter or change it. We can however find peace and calm in our practice, but often times it is a little elusive! Our practice can be scratchy, difficult- truthful.

I am drawing parallels here with life and this piece of poetry. There is a weight to reality right now, and we are having to learn to adapt to the weariness that many of us are feeling, and to go about our days and weeks with care, and with compassion in order to stay upright. This poem took me on a sharp, difficult journey, it socked me between the eyes as the turn of world events is also doing, but what I love is that even with the challenges we are faced with daily, is the way we can find our inner steel, resolve, belief and trust in ourselves and one another. We may be physically distanced but we can still be connected, we can form a metaphorical huddle around ourselves like the Emperor penguins do, and we all deserve to be held and seen with compassion…see how you feel when you reach the end, and the journey you go on? I'd be interested to hear.

If you like many of us, are finding life a challenge right now i'm running an eight-week online mindfulness for stress and well-being class starting in September - details are here. It's for anyone; you may already have a practice, you may have no practice whatsoever - all are welcome. It's a safe, supportive, informal and welcoming space and a small but perfectly performed group with a maximum of twelve of us. Please get in touch via email to sign up or learn more.