A few practical lessons learned from this pandemic, the 5Rs are the Realities of life in the time of Corona Virus. Realities we need to pay attention to in order to Receive the message for change and transformation. We have the opportunity to REFLECT, REEVALUATE, REVISE, RECONNECT and RISE to the occasion of this Grand Lesson, to open the gateway for another type of existence to flourish and pave the way for the network of life to THRIVE in the new age….
What’s going on
What should we do
The way of life as we know it has been uprooted, every part of the globe has been affected by Corona virus to some degree…
On a practical level:
We should do what we can to protect ourselves and be sensible, avoid exposure as much as possible by social distancing and minimizing contact with unknown sources and objects for the time being, strengthening our natural defenses, our personal soldiers, our immune system by healthy physical, mental, and spiritual practices… some of which include, eating a healthy wholesome diet of fresh, seasonal, clean sourced meals and beverages like green tea with lemon, intermittent fasting has shown to boost immune system, taking therapeutic supplements such as vitamin C, Zinc, Omegas and mushrooms such as Turkey Tail and Reishi have shown to have antiviral properties. So you keep your inner army well equipped…getting restful, plentiful sleep so our bodies and minds can repair themselves.
Having a spiritual practice which can connect us to the ultimate healing power of universe beyond time and space is vital especially in a modern age and a global crisis such as Corona Virus Pandemic.
At the same time being aware that worrying about a perceived future is just weakening our faculties, taking us away from the reality of the moment into perceived fears. If one is able to stay present in one’s body, whatever arises, can be dealt with consciously and with an alert and in control mind in order to handle the situation with outmost presence and clarity to see what is the best solution with all angles considered.
Another contributing factor is to keep in mind, is that the body doesn’t know what is “real” or not, it reacts to the messages sent from your mind as it is apparent in virtual games, the sweaty palms, the fast heartbeat at a virtual image of standing on the edge of a tall building about to fall, is proof, even though this is not “real”. Therefore it is important what messages you send into your body, your perceived fears of what may or may not happen in the future will create the fight or flight response in the body as if you were in imminent danger causing the pumping of most of your energy into your adrenals and would lower your immune response. The more relaxed and at peace and present you are, your body is best ready to face and resolve any “actual, tangible, present moment” threat which may arise..
Why is this happening
What practices of our species has let to this Pandemic
This should make us re-evaluate the perception of control, superiority, and entitlement we feel as a species. With all of our technological and medical advancements, we are absolutely powerless when Nature roars with storms, fires, floods, earthquakes, and viruses….This is the time we reevaluate how we treat our world, each other, other beings, and our beloved planet .
There are many theories as to why this is happening some trace this back to viruses from animals and bats and the way they have been treated and traded as food and products. They also say this is just a different strain of an old virus of Corona which has been around for decades but if one sees this at a global and even universal level, he’ll see that all this means, regardless of where the origin of the virus was, all the conspiracy theories out there, and even spiritual ones depicting this time as a leap of evolution in consciousness; what is crystal clear is that its time for a “Paradigm Shift” it shows that nature in all its knowing and wisdom is letting us know that we have to change our ways. We can’t keep abusing our planet and other beings and each other, the way we have been wasting, polluting & abusing resources, the time is now to re-evaluate how we conduct ourselves as a “Rational” species. The fact is that ultimately life will persist, life will find different forms to manifest itself through, if we as a species don’t find a way to adapt and adjust our behavior, we can easily be extinct like millions of other species throughout the history of this planet and life will thrive in other ways and forms, so it really is up to us at this critical junction to decide what direction we will take, to Extinction or to Evolution…
Reprioritizing what matters
How we need to revise our ways will be better understood and clear as this storm passes, the dust settles and we are able to see in more timely and sophisticated ways, what actually happened and why. Though few of the practices which clearly need to be adopted are perhaps more localized living, local resources, a model of “local living, global loving”….lessen our harmful impact on our planet, using our local resources without the carbon foot print of shipping from one corner of the globe to the next and whatever else which may attach itself to the cargo… to living simpler lives, less consumption, being kinder, gentler with other beings on this planet.
A valuable lesson of this virus which shut down the world, is that we can live on much less than we have been consistently conditioned for decades to believe we need. That a break as sever as this pandemic may have been the only way, we could be shaken up from our deep, robotic ways of consumption. Living our lives fully based on the natural cycles of life, in harmony with nature, seasonal eating, more efficient sharing of vital resources such as food, air, energy, water, medicine, services, and sharing our Love of life with all LIFE…
Rethink the way we treat our home the earth…it feels as if this is one grand scheme of the nature to make us pay attention, as our activities shrink down to just a walk in nature, we are given the opportunity to see how vital to our survival Nature truly is, on all levels, form physically ensuing our health, and connectedness to the flow of life to grounding and centering us back to sanity. This could be nature’s way of making us SEE it again, see perhaps for the first time the vastness, the power and beauty we are immersed in, see with different eyes..
Maybe this will helps us lessen our dependency on stuff that take so much of the Earths resources to produces and then once we are done as new Stuff come into the market, pollute our planet more and more as we discard..
This is the time to reflect and reevaluate what really matters and detach physically and mentally from what does not…..
how to strengthen our connection to loved ones and our communities
how to connect back into the network of ALL life
Simpler ways of life
Spending quality time with loved ones, friends and family, creating a sense of community locally and globally, taking ownership for the survival and thriving of our planet and all it encompasses…
Going back to simpler ways of life, being outdoors, taking in the beauty and vastness of this Magnificent planet, reconnecting to our source..
This pandemic should help melt away the notion of Borders: as this crisis has shown us we have to evolve into realizing we are in this together, whomever and whatever is alive on this planet at this moment in time is part of a tribe which can and should ensure the continuity, survival and health of all species as well as our home, planet earth. This is time of cooperation, collaboration and oneness, the time for competition, opposition and separation resulting in wars, injustice and suffering is over.
There is no more time to waste, this is the end of the game of POWER, we have to take a leap in our evolutionary path and realize the oneness of all things and live accordingly..…
Time to Wake up
Embrace the gift of life
This crisis will allow us to wake up and embrace this human experience knowing that billions of others have come and gone experienced this physical realm with all its ups and downs, joys, fears, heartbreaks and transformations, realizing that this is an absolute gift, for us to be observing all that takes place around us, the evolution of this species, the history in making, and how we are part of it, having the opportunity to be a witness in the evolution and growth that is inevitable after a crisis of this magnitude, recognizing this priceless Gift that is life, embracing it with all the range of experiences it allows us to have and learn from, inhale the beauty of nature and its bounty…Now we can finally awaken and evolve to the next level and change the current paradigm to one of LOVE AND LIFE For All…..
So lately I have been feeling that for the number of times I have sat in a Vipassana course, and so immensely benefitted from, I have not served nearly enough. The last time I served, was a couple of years ago at the NCV Center in Kellsyville, CA. It was a 10 day course, of which I served about 7 having to return for previously planned traveling.
That was a course which offered Persian and English discourses and the Assistant Teachers were also Persian. It was a very “noisy” course for a silent retreat to put it lightly. As one who is familiar with my own culture, it wasn’t much of a surprise, though serving it was a different story. There was a lot of chatter, discussing the food, the course, the amenities. Students openly chatting and socializing while waking back to their rooms. People would ring the kitchen bell just to tell us, how delicious a dish was and “hope your hand is not hurting” a polite term of appreciation for the effort of cooking popular in Persian culture. We would just nod and try to convey with our eyes that ” YOU ARE NOT SUPPOSED TO TALK”!!! or they’d knock to ask “where the feta cheese was?” at breakfast. The bewildered expression of the “food loving” people at DAY 1 breakfast, where there was no feta cheese, walnuts or lavash bread was priceless!
The poor volunteer course manager had never worked so hard in her life, between running from the kitchen to the grounds, the meditation hall and the student quarters, quieting the chattering and answering questions about why they was no dinner to managing the number of students waiting to ask the teachers, probably the same questions, she must have collected a lifetime of merits in one course.
So that was the last course I served. It may have been one reason I had delayed it, or because sitting a course is so liberating, I wanted to use all the available time to stay within. At one of those moments where you know its time to align and center, its time for Vipassana, I signed up and clicked “to Serve” on a whim.
As the date got closer, my doubts arose. The many excuses your mind makes for not doing something which would take it out of its habitual comfort zone. “But my foot is hurting, I am not sure if I can sit for long. I have to finish my website, and plan our travels for Europe. We have these tickets on Friday, I really need to focus on my home projects, what about Kylo (my boy puppy), etc”…..although everything was lining up so miraculously for me to go it was hard to dismiss the coincidences. A delightful dog sitter just happened to be available out of the blue, the concert I was thinking of was for the following week not this week, it all screamed: GO, you need this….
I was still struggling with the fact that I had clicked “to serve” and the center is always looking for servers and counts on them. The day was nearing fast, and I was sorting out my escape routes from the responsibility. My mind and body had been too idle for too long, thats the danger of falling into the depths of habit and the dark cave of “comfort zone”.
On the morning of the day before the course started, I got a phone call. “Hi , Is this Ramona?”, I am from NCV center. YOU had signed up to serve this coming course?” I was shocked. I NEVER get phone calls before a course. “Yes, I am and I did sign up to serve. Though I was going to contact you, I am not certain of my Sitter situation for the entire course, but I will come to help set up for the first few days.” just came out. As luck would have it, he was also BABY sitting his grandchildren at the moment and knew how difficult it is to find a BABY sitter, etc. I stayed quiet. I mean, I never said baby sitter, I just said “sitter”, so technically, I didn’t lie, he just assumed!;)
He wanted me to pick up another server, ROBERT who didn’t have a ride. I was so relieved that I could contribute further by delivering more help as I was leaving the course early. The coast was nice and clear, almost off the hook, when he said: So, how old is your child!!?? I paused, I couldn’t straight out lie, I mean I am going to a Vipassana course, where “speaking no lies” is one of the 5 precepts as a basis of sitting a Vipassana course. So I came clean, “Actually, its a dog sitter I was referring to, Its a dog but my baby of course” he laughed , and I laughed although I felt blood rush to my face, I was so embarrassed!
I exchanged a few texts with Robert and planned to pick him up the next day at a cafe on the way to the center. Ok, so some of the guilt was averted now. I drove up to the cafe, the next morning. I saw a guy sitting outside by himself with a backpack sipping his coffee. I figured that must be Robert, a little heavy set, shaved head, with a green t.shirt, he looked like a ROBERT to me. I texted him that I am across the street in a Black BMW”
He got up and got his backpack and started to walk out of the cafe. Except he turned left out the door, and behind him, a tall hansom young man with black sports sun glasses, a hip haircut, and even a bigger backpack was waving at me.
Ola Ramona, I am ROBERTO! so THIS is Roberto, from Argentina, not Robert seemingly from Fresno!;) He was a free spirited world traveller, like most people I come across in Vipassana courses. We had an engaging conversation about his travels through North America, and south East Asian. When I asked where his favorite spot has been so far, “Yosemite, I am still in awe of its beauty, I still can’t believe how amazing it was” I secretly felt proud, that a guy from the exotic land of Argentina had been deeply touched by the beauty of our beloved National park. He had served and sat in many courses across the globe. Had even stayed with a guy who lived in the slums of India. After we discovered that our favorite book is “The Shantram”
For some reason I didn’t finish this blog at the time I wrote it, so now I just recall a few highlights, though the course was full of synchronicities and mind bending consequences as per usual!:)
At the center, Robert was picked to be the course manager for the men’s side, so I just saw him during meal times for a few minutes, we smiled and nodded..
I shared cabin number 3 with a girl from Oregon, who lived on a farm and raised her own chickens, grew her own veggies, had dreadlocks and wore hippy clothes. She could not have been more of an earth loving, tea brewing, tree hugging vegan-ist, peace loving hippy. For a few days we chopped and diced and cleaned in the kitchen together and just said goodnight in the cabin. Until one day, in the break room at lunch, as the servers were allowed to eat lunch, I noticed a tattoo on her arm. It caught my eyes though it was half covered under her sleeve. As she rolled up her sleeve to wash her bowl, I noticed it was a tattoo in Arabic letters. As surprised as I was to see arabic tattoo on the arm of the most Oregan-ic! girl I have ever met, it was nothing compared to the shock I got in a bet….”Oh, so’nso what does your tattoo say?” she hesitated a bit and then pulled up her sleeve and read me in FARSI a sort of a poetic phrase, which I cannot recall. My jaw dropped! Are you Persian???? She said no, I am from Eugene, Oregon!! I didn’t have to say anything, she read my deep shock from my face and continued, which only deepened the shock!!
I was in the NAVY for 7 years…! “YES???” and I had to learn Farsi because I was part of a special unit that dealt with Iranian Government!!!!!!!!!!! WHATTTT???? You, Navy? Farsi? I am roommates with an ex American Navy Spy on Iranian Government in a Vipassana course????? I mean, I have come across many completely out of the box characters in these courses throughout the years, BUT this one tops them all off….I didn’t know where to start with my questions, considering there is really no talking in these courses, just necessities, and also wanting to be careful not to cross boundaries or dig too deep into Navy’s Secret Affairs….
So she just summarized… she had been sent to Farsi classes along with some of her troops, she said they actually flew some of these professors from Iran to teach them the language correctly!!! Not surprisingly, she didn’t get into the nature of her actual role, just heard her say to another student, she had to listen into Government official radio conversations in Farsi and translate the contents to her superiors!
She went in with the intention to serve and it took her a while to realize what she was serving, She just wanted out, took 7 years to leave, it was world of violence, cruelty, betrayal and strict orders. Somehow, I cant recall, later she came across Vipassana and has completely turned her life around….now she found her true calling to SERVE….has been quite a journey to get here….!!!
I only got to stay 4 days, I actually extended my stay from one night, I enjoyed every minute of it. We were in the kitchen at 5 am every morning, preparing meals for the students. We did our 3 daily sittings in the Meditation Hall in between serving in the kitchen. It is rewarding on a different level. And on top of that, you get the meet people like her and Roberto who seem to lead different lives and they all end up opening your mind and heart into new horizons…
I am forever a Server of Vipassana….
Sadhu, Sadhu, Sadhu…..
One of the moments which will forever stay with me in years to come when I look back at this strange time, would have to be the one last Saturday afternoon. We took a long drive towards Russian River on unusually empty roads. We had been sheltering in place for about 10 days by then and being outside felt like traveling to a different time zone. Empty shops, streets, a few people in masks, the sky scrapers of downtown San Francisco looked like empty columns, standing there purposelessly..it was a true scene from the many movies in which a disaster or dark force has wiped a whole city clean and left a few survivors hurrying passed you to take shelter. We drove passed the city and crossed over the empty Golden Gate bridge normally hustling and bustling with bicyclists, and walkers crossing over to Sausalito on a nice spring afternoon. We took the scenic route which we had taken many times before. Though it felt different, ironically it looked more alive. The flowers looked brighter, the air looked somehow even more transparent. On a hunch and in the spirit of exploration and being in no hurry to be anywhere, we took a small side road and found ourselves going through a tree tunnel hovering over the road, which was exhilarating to drive through. As we came out of the other side of the tunnel, there was a creek lined with yellow flowers and low hills all along the side. With no cars in sight, I asked Ebby to stop for a moment… and that is when I heard it as soon as I got out of the car…The most profound, overwhelming Silence,.. took my breath away. The silence in which the constant background humming has suddenly stopped and you just realize there has been a humming all along…The magnificent nature was singing in this profound silence the most vibrant song. It was through this silence when for the first time, I heard the language of nature, the flapping of the wings of the birds, the falling of a leaf into the creek, the buzzing of the many bugs, the sound of the clouds moving in the sky, the many different songs of birds, whereas before they all melted into one even if ever heard.. The reflection of the hills and the velvet yellow flower in that creek surrounded by the absolute silence and songs of nature was a moment in which I was profoundly humbled with gratitude for this gift we call life, for the ability to sense all this, having lived in this moment in time to take all this in, and feel Raw Nature with all its magical, mystical power, even if for just a short moment, as I stood there in awe…I thought this is the moment of impact which I will forever cherish when I recall my memories of living through the Pandemic of 2020….
You have been calling
I never heard through the noise
your song was drowned in the chatter
your beauty blocked by brick and stone
until one day you sent a thorn
Slow down, look around,
Stop a moment, hear my song
It will open your eyes and mind
will stop your aimless run
Now I have had a chance to see
The breath of life you have blown in me
Your immense beauty and grace
Rendering meaningless all this chase…
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