[ Editor’s note: The WPFC blog posts every 2 weeks – “Searching for Self in This Time Outside Time” was written on May 14, 2020. Still the search for self is always important, and during this time of high emotions and concern perhaps even more so. ]
I am sitting in my bedroom, the day before my daughter’s birthday, the day before we go into Yellow in my county in PA. It is hard for me to focus. I have heard many say that over the last several weeks.
The objects in my room call to me: books on a shelf to my left, the messy surface of my old, scarred dresser, the unending headlines on my news App, my email site – are there any emails that have come in in the last 10 minutes?
I decide to meditate. “Just don’t do something, sit there” – to paraphrase something I once heard a meditation teacher say.
I find sounds from the ocean on a phone app and set the timer. The sounds keep me from hearing the banging of my husband as he cooks in the kitchen beneath me. He bangs his wok and his kitchen tools, thinking it makes him a better chef, or maybe it’s just fun, or his way of making music. So I mask those big sounds of his as we try to get along during this unending period of being together.
The sound takes me to the ocean, my body calms down and breathes to the rhythm of the waves. I escape from the confines of my room, my house, my county, and the corona virus. And I recall the movement of the waves, the warmth of the sun, the birds as they walk or fly or dive, orienting around this grand body of water, their life source.
I cannot get on a plane or a train. I do not yet feel safe even traveling to visit family members, whom I have not hugged in what seems like a long time. But I can be here and allow the waves to carry me away and free my mind from the restrictions imposed to prevent contagion. I can reclaim myself by staying put.
We inevitably respond to stimuli – to the people, to the environment, and to what is going on inside of us. But as we relax, our minds open up and allow us to think more creatively. I hear the message that where I am right now is not threatening. I can just be. I can enjoy the meditation, allowing my mind to focus on the breath for sustenance and grounding, in this time outside of time.
Wendy Levin-Shaw, LCSW
WPFC Faculty Member