Quarantine or Retreat?
In these turbulent times, we have been asked to place ourselves in voluntary quarantine for our own safety and the safety of our loved and vulnerable ones. The concept of “quarantine” can conjure up images and feelings of isolation, of loneliness and of fragility. What if we re-think this message as one of Retreat instead? New Hampshire Lama Willa Miller writes,
“In a pandemic, self-isolation is called quarantine.
In Buddhism, it is called retreat.
From the cave of our home, like the meditators of ancient times,
we can consciously kindle the lamp of compassion and connection.”
Let us make this a time of retreat into the warm cocooned caves of our homes, into the quiet of slowing down, into a Shabbat from the business of the world. And if we take apart the word, we see that it says “Re-Treat”, or to treat ourselves again. Can we find some delight here too?
We can use this time away from the busyness of rushing around to “treat” ourselves to pay attention to who and what really matters to us. Our health, our loved ones, our communities, and the health of the planet. The silver linings that have already begun to appear in the news include clearer air and cleaner water in many polluted parts of our world, and the delight of seeing more and more people out and about walking, biking, and talking with each other instead of having their heads down buried in the cell phones! At least, this is what I am seeing in my neighborhood, and when I go out to walk along the river and through the woods. Both I and others are taking a moment to smile and say “Hello” as we practice our social distancing on these walks, which is not the same as social isolating! Even if I can’t go “Over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house” right now, (because my daughter’s grandmother is 90, and we are staying touch virtually) we can still get out into nature to soothe our souls.
The Body/Mind Connection:
What happens to the body effects the mind, and vice versa. The body/mind/spirit connection is the wholeness of who we are. When we meditate, not only do our minds slow down, but our breathing and our body does too. When we walk outside, not only do our legs get exercise, but our spirits are enlivened when we remember to pause and notice the bright red cardinal singing his heart out, and the forsythia bursting into bloom along the path. When we offer up a prayer to whoever and whatever we believe may be listening, we also create an energetic field of love and hope and resilience for all who are around us.
Begin and End Your Day With Gratitude and Blessing
If you haven’t already been doing so, now would be a wonderful time to practice soothing and grounding rituals at the start and end of your day. Maybe a moment of gratitude in the morning, to wake up each day and say thank you for having lived through the night, through your dreams and even your nightmares, to open our eyes to be able to say, “Thank you for this new day”.
And before you go to sleep at night, “…perchance to dream…”, take a moment to surround yourself and your loved ones with healing, with a bubble of protective light, and invite your dreaming guides to share with you the wisdom of the night and the deep learnings you can get from this time of re-treat.
5 Simple Practices to Sooth Your Soul
- Practice reframing the idea of “quarantine” to one of “retreat” and see how that effects your mood.
- See if you can find the “treat” and delight in this time of fewer choices, and more time to focus on what matters most to you.
- Get outside very day and notice beauty around you. Find one small thing to say “Oh- how lovely!” about.
- Start and end your day with what you are grateful for. Let it be a blessing.
- Attend to your dreams, for the night wisdom of your soul can give you insights and guidance during difficult times.
My book, “Modern Dreamwork: New Tools for Decoding Your Soul’s Wisdom”, Llewellyn Publishing, 2019 is full of practical and simple methods for enhancing your dreaming life and finding the deep hidden source of inner wisdom on this journey to our depths called life. Please read more about it here: www.moderndreamwork.com