March 08, 2020
Greetings from Rishikesh. We arrived a week ago in the north and are sooo happy to be in cooler weather, for sure.
Being on the Ganges instills in me an oozing embodiment of peace beyond words. I see love in the eyes I meet, including the Langur monkeys. ;-) I can feel the breath of the trees and the mountains. The many languages spoken here feel unnecessary. There is a powerful silence that calls me. There I can hold this peace for us all.
Traveling here was a little more precarious than I have personally experienced. Between political unrest in India and now the coronavirus awareness, there are plenty of reminders to exercise being fully present.
Coronavirus is probably discussed daily in one way or another in every household. It’s fascinating to watch what arises in us when terms like ‘pandemic’ get headlined. "Growing death toll" and the "pandemic" language sure gets our attention.
When everyone jumps into a fear bubble and stop living, a different kind of suffering happens; one that is very paralyzing. Fear is a natural instinct and good to heighten awareness, momentarily. It’s important to be informed, take precautions with awareness and then continue to cultivate happiness in your day. Feeding the fear will never have positive outcome. When someone gets a cold or flu, we don’t crawl into a cave. We take precautions not to spread our germs, but we don’t panic. Panic is a such a dangerous reaction.
This kind of outbreak can be an inspiration to support healthier living. When we eat well, rest well, and exercise any and all practices to de-stress our lives physically, emotionally and mentally, we strengthen our immune systems. These are primary reasons why I lead retreats.
Thay (Thich Nhat Hanh) said many many times that fear is the most dangerous and damaging component in our life. It will never lead to peace of mind but will work against you. He says we are very afraid of being powerless. But we have the power to look deeply at our fears, and then fear cannot control us.
While it sounds like I am putting a lighter spin on the current virus, I’m not taking the situation lightly or irresponsibly. Both in my travels and leading a retreat in Italy influence me to stay very informed.
Although the retreats are in the countryside and not in heavily populated areas, I am quite confident that by the end of May when we are in Italy, we will be focused on the healing power of the glorious sun, nature and the vista of the rolling hills that will leave us in awe, food that confirms we live in heaven and practices that instil peace of mind and heart. What more can we ask for?
Wherever this note finds you, stay in your heart, wide awake and fully present.
Love from Rishikesh,
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