All this has happened in just a few weeks. We are all in the same boat, preparing ourselves and our families to weather the situation, and being as cautious as we can. We are minimizing our contact with the external world, where our interactions in a physical sense are limited to survival needs. Anything beyond that is foolish.
It is how we do it that matters. The attitude of poise and care we can demonstrate as we go about our daily lives does radiate out towards others. COVID19 does not discriminate according to race, gender, culture or nationality. So let us continue to be kind and compassionate to all.
To understand social distancing, let’s explore these two words — social and distancing. Social means companionship, friendship. Humans are social beings and we exist in communities. Distancing means to be separate. Simply put, social distancing is to maintain a distance between ourselves and others, whether affected by the disease or not.
But is it social distancing we are being asked to do? Not really. Physical distancing, certainly, but does that mean that our social structures need to fall apart? While maintaining our physical distance, we may ask ourselves, are we also emotionally distancing ourselves? Somehow we have to be able to disentangle the two things.
We have always lived with physical distances — spouses working on different continents, and families spread around the world. Today, we stay connected socially and emotionally through technology, and our lifestyle has been like this for quite some time.
So, what makes the current situation so different? Perhaps it is because we are worried about our loved ones, and wonder when we will see them in person again. We may feel helpless to support elderly parents on the other side of the world, or unable to comfort a dear friend in person. Whatever the reason, it certainly feels different now for many of us. The question is, how can we practice social distancing without emotional distancing? Can we take advantage of the situation and learn to enhance our emotional bonds?
In today’s world, we are very used to seeking happiness and fulfilment in external objects and in other people. Now we have an opportunity to take a pause, to slow down, and to introspect on how we interact with even the smallest of objects. Have you ever noticed how you handle a pen and a notebook? Or how you write? The way we handle objects, and maybe even use our glasses to see what we’re writing, tells us a lot about ourselves. We’re not used to having such an inner focus and dealing with ourselves. Biologically, we are social beings, seeking fulfilment in connections with others around us. So, I wonder, what brings such calamities to a humanity that is already suffering? Is it a wake-up call for us to do more, be more aware, or is it just a reminder?
To be cautious of simple things — such as not hugging our loved ones, not shaking hands, not touching our faces — goes against our very natural instincts. And to those families experiencing the distance of being separated by oceans, it is natural to feel scared and anxious. But we may also remember a much more potent form of communication that is at our disposal: To remain connected heart to heart. To send love.
Here is a simple practice we can all do every day with our loved ones: Sit comfortably and gently close your eyes. Bring the person you wish to send love to in front of you. Feel your heart connecting to their heart. Gently send love and care to the person, from your heart to their heart, feeling connected.
After a few minutes, you will find peace inside yourself, and also in the other person, to whom you’re sending love.
Even turtles know very well how to maintain such mental contact with their family members. When it is time for a mother turtle to lay her eggs, she will swim from her place in the ocean to a sandy beach, dig holes and lay her eggs in the sand, covering them over to protect them. She then swims back out to sea. When the young turtles hatch, after two months, they scurry down to the waves and then, miraculously, swim to their mother. If turtles can maintain such contact, why not us?
— Kamlesh D Patel is the fourth spiritual guide in the Sahaj Marg system of Raja Yoga meditation.
Copyright © 2020 Sahaj Marg Spirituality Foundation. Reprinted with permission from the author and www.daaji.org