I am sitting in a waiting room again, this time with a cold. I have a box of tissues and only get occasional glances from the others in the waiting area. It is remarkable that, in only three short years, how differently we look at people with a hint of illness. One would have thought this pandemic would have people more thoughtfully caring for others, and their health, by bringing to light the fragility of life and the delicate balance that our bodies maintain.
I should have known better, even for myself. Humans are very habitual. As soon as the threat is over or deemed not as severe, we resort back to our unhealthy habits, myself included. I will note that I habitually WASHED my hands before, during, and after the pandemic, and I am disgusted by the lack of handwashing I see daily. Even at the height of Covid, I worked with humans that still would not wash their hands after using the restroom- and people wonder why I want no part in potluck gatherings!
Seriously folks, if you do not wash your hands after I HEAR and SMELL what is happening in the public restroom, I guarantee your lack of fastidiousness carries over into your home.
Handwashing (I hate using this word, but) LITERALLY takes 20 seconds. That’s it.
The last three years proved that we are screwed if there is a zombie virus, as we clearly could not handle a severe cold/flu virus. Instead of focusing on what was important, some put others needlessly at risk. (and by some, I mean some on both sides of the political spectrum). If there were a zombie virus – we would fall faster than in World War Z or The Last of Us.
We tend to forget when we are frightened or angry that every human being on the planet is dealing with something- some issue, whether physical, mental, or emotional- we forget. We become self-centered, and we forget that we are all one. We forget about the power a sense of belonging and community brings; we forget that without our kin, we are alone. Self-preservation is an appealing and needed trait; however, it must be tempered with unconditional love.
Am I disgusted by my non-handwashing brethren? Absolutely. Do I wish them ill? Emphatically no. And before you ask if I or anyone else has discussed the importance of handwashing- yes. They have been very kindly spoken with, shown diagrams, etc., on the significance of handwashing for their health and safety, as well as the health and safety of others they still CHOOSE not to wash their hands.
The choices we make not only affect us. Expanding awareness of how our choices affect others is the first step toward unconditional love.
But I digress; allow me to shift back to the topic- meditating while ill. I have maintained a consistent morning meditation practice over the last few months in addition to my evening practice. The only thing that genuinely interrupts my practice is the migraines, and I will skip my routine when I have a severe migraine. Colds, however, pose a slightly different challenge.
I have had to work with meditation while ill in the same way I work with any topic or situation that causes stress or a sensation of dis-ease, and I sit with it. Invite the feeling of frustration, anger, and sadness, allowing these feelings their full reign without acting upon them. Let them flow through my body, sensing where the emotion originates.
The frustration boils down to a lack of control. We have no control. We can choose to eat healthy, exercise, and genuinely nurture our minds, body, and spirit to the best of our abilities, and we still get sick.
We don’t want to feel stuffy, congested, or headachey. We want to feel healthy and vibrant and do not cherish our health until we are sick.
While in states of dis-ease, it can be challenging to maintain mindfulness, as we seem only to be mindful of our misery. Through meditation, we can shift perspective, allowing our attention to rest where dis-ease is absent, if only for a moment. We allow space to open to us, inviting a sense of calm and peacefulness.
My morning meditations during this cold are interspersed with nose blowing, coughing, and required sips of hot tea, all of which can be viewed as meditative if I accommodate shifts in perspective.
Meditation is a tool for enhancing one’s perception of the present moment, gently shifting from thoughts of the past or worries about the future back to the here and now. This allows us to glimpse the workings of the body, something we innately feel separate when sick. Think about the vernacular used when we discuss illness. We tend to use phrasing such as “kill the germs, attack the virus,” etc… seemingly at war with what we perceive as an attack on our system.
What if we change our view? Instead of attacking the germs, what if we nurture our immune system and strengthen our white blood cells. The calm I experience during meditation grants this shift. I realize the symptoms I am experiencing are the many ways my body is tending to infection. A fever is a tool the body uses to neutralize the infecting agent. Sneezing and coughing can spread germs if we are not mindful of hygiene, but it also helps clear the lungs and sinus congestion.
Our bodies contain an innate intelligence. When we take time to listen and understand the signals, we heal faster. For example, we need to rest more than we do. I have learned to listen to my body when it tells me I need rest, and instead of muscling through, I stay home, sleep, and care for myself. Rest is so crucial for mental and physical health.
It is through rest that the bigger picture becomes apparent, and the distinction between needs and wants becomes glaringly obvious. This realization provides space to release those things which no longer serve me in my healing. What is most important is restoring optimal health. What do I need to heal? I need rest, water, medicine, healthy food, warmth, and support.
It is a short list. Most of us living in the USA have these things and take them for granted daily. We have lived with excess for so long that we no longer understand the difference between needs and wants. Meditation afforded the awareness of my many blessings to blossom and let the frets and falsities drop.
Take time to look at areas where you are clinging unnecessarily. In the daily hustle, have you confused wants for needs? It is easy to do; we are inundated with media, daily tasks, chores, work, and home life. When we can simplify, we create space for those things which matter most. And the things that matter most are never things.
Simplicity Moment: Hug someone you love today. Let them know how much they mean to you.
Namaste, and have a blessed first day of spring!