By Jo Mooy
The virus has been silently teaching me things that I might have spent several lifetimes learning.
My pandemic pause began in March, 2020. I expected it would be short, maybe a month or two. But March became April. Then, each day in April felt like it was a month long. April morphed into May and June and now it’s October. My life of action, of daily doing, of moving about and accomplishing whatever was so important stopped. Suddenly, there was nothing to do. Nowhere to go. No one to do it with. Staring at four walls filled the days.
For a while, companionship was found on Facebook groups. Everyone was dealing with the pandemic together. Until once respected friends began to subscribe to absurd theories. They reposted wildly false information with the zeal of evangelical recruits. Snarky comments and strident conspiracy views began to filter into online conversations. I unfriended a few. Then I left Facebook. Leaving showed me how much distress I was experiencing—even from friends.
As the months morphed into one another, the pandemic was changing me and my safe little world. Old familiar ways were disappearing. A quick phone call to meet friends at a restaurant for dinner was now a memory. Grocery shopping was relegated to one day a week. Even a once enjoyable early morning walk on the beach wasn’t possible. Frequent sewage spills contaminated the water near Sarasota, FL, and people without masks disregarded the order to social distance.
One day, inside the sanctuary I called home, the first tears fell. They carried the grief and the sadness of losing what was once precious. Friends texted they were having similar issues. We all wondered if any part of our previous life would come back? And if so, how? More importantly, when? As the tears fell, they watered a barren place growing in me.
Coronavirus is insidious. Some people are felled by it. Millions test positive but have no symptoms. Yet it affects everyone in some way. The fears about it are palpable. Those fears seep into once cherished beliefs, twisting them into bizarre theories that are used as weapons. Individual rights are declared, while those meant to protect the whole are ignored. Health and science are at war with biased opinions.
Physically, the virus attacks human respiration. That’s when I noticed my own side effects. The virus was constricting my breath. There was a constant heaviness around my heart. Mentally, I’d become lethargic. Spiritually, it was strangling my soul. With isolation in its seventh month, I went into the yard. A Great Blue Heron flew low over the water, heading straight towards me. Passing 10 feet over my head, I felt the wind currents from its wings. The wide wingspan rhythmically sounded whop whop whop as it swooped over my head.
In that moment the wind sounds broke through my lethargy. I recognized the virus had been silently teaching me three things that I might have spent several lifetimes learning. It taught me Silence— Stillness—and Simplicity. In the new normal I sat for hours in Silence. The virus reduced my world to a small, contained version. In Silence I walked from my office to the living room to the lanai. On the walk I observed my thoughts in that limited world I now occupied, without being absorbed by them. My office needed a good clean out. I didn’t do it. The living room is always tidy but needed to be vacuumed. I didn’t do that either. In the Silence, when thoughts floated by, there was no need to discuss them. They came and went.
In the Silence, there were spiritual practices I could easily follow. The best one was meditation. But the virus taught me that meditation can be done differently. Sitting on the lanai became a gateway to the outside world of nature. Watching ducks swim in the lake was its own form of meditation. It was breathing without focus. It was observation without thinking. There was no judgment. It was meditation without a timer. Two hours would go by in complete silence—simply sitting, breathing and observing a family of ducks making Vs across the lake. I became a duck, making a V on the lake, in a state of Silent awareness.
The second quality the virus taught me was Stillness. My pre-Covid life was seldom still. It was constant action, movement, doing and accomplishing. Every day there was so much to do. Deadlines loomed. Calls had to be made and schedules confirmed. For what, I wondered? If we’re quarantined for more than a year, why bother with all those to-dos? I unshackled the bonds and relaxed into Stillness. Without a schedule and nothing to do, I embraced Stillness.
Stillness became Wu Wei, or the art of doing nothing. “Nothing” became whatever it wanted to be. Some days Stillness was passively watching an old movie in the afternoon. Other days Stillness was reading a historical novel at 10 in the morning. Ten o’clock used to be a pre-Covid hour when I was immersed in planning projects. Stillness was delicious. In Stillness a gecko I named Estelle drank water from a droplet on a leaf. Stillness was the foundation of what I was becoming.
The last lesson was Simplicity. Pre-Covid I’d go through a dozen rolls of paper towels in a month cleaning the house. Simply and easily, old cotton kitchen towels replaced them and did a better job. Instead of calling a guy to fix it, cabinet doors that wouldn’t stay closed, now did with Velcro. I always traveled in summer. This year I traveled daily to the simplicity of my garden. It’s how I met Estelle, who now lives her simple life on the lanai.
In the Silence, Stillness and Simplicity of Covid I was most changed by the Sanskrit phrase Tat Tvam Asi. It means, whatever you see, whatever it is, you are that! The people distanced six feet away, the interactions, the places, the pleasant or difficult situations are all me. I’m connected to all of that. Everyone and every thing I call “other” is me. It’s still unfolding and waiting to be further experienced. But that flash of sensing such a profound Truth would never have happened without this pandemic.
Jo Mooy has studied with many spiritual traditions over the past 40 years. The wide diversity of this training allows her to develop spiritual seminars and retreats that explore inspirational concepts, give purpose and guidance to students, and present esoteric teachings in an understandable manner. Along with Patricia Cockerill, she has guided the Women’s Meditation Circle since January 2006 where it has been honored for five years in a row as the “Favorite Meditation” group in Sarasota, FL, by Natural Awakenings Magazine. Teaching and using Sound as a retreat healing practice, Jo was certified as a Sound Healer through Jonathan Goldman’s Sound Healing Association. She writes and publishes a monthly internationally distributed e-newsletter called Spiritual Connections and is a staff writer for Spirit of Maat magazine in Sedona. For more information go to http://www.starsoundings.com or email email@example.com.