There’s a simple mantra that I often use at the beginning of my practice. It goes like this: “Here I am. Here I am. Here I am.” Our minds spend so much time running off to imagined futures or ruminating over remembered pasts. It takes serious training to keep the mind rooted in the now of any given moment. Hence the mantra: “Here I am.” It’s a way of locating ourselves. And remembering the simple truth that we’re not in the future. And we’re not in the past. We’re here. Right now.
And right now, we’re in the midst of a global pandemic. The world is a different place than it was two weeks ago. And in this moment, it doesn’t matter that we know everything is always changing because the speed with which it’s currently changing feels unprecedented.
And as the ground shifts rapidly beneath us, fear of an unknown future rises to the surface. Our sense of security is breaking down. And everywhere we look there’s loss. Loss of life. Loss of livelihood. Loss of so many important events. Loss of shaking hands, hugging, and standing near one another.
So let us return to my simple mantra and name what’s real: Here we are. In deep grief.
Grief is the internal experience—the feeling—of loss. There’s not a person among us that’s a stranger to grief. We’ve all experienced loss of various kinds. And our world has experienced collective loss, like the one we’re sharing in now, many times before. But we’re not in the past. We’re here, in this moment. And in this moment we’re all losing the illusion of certainty.
Spiritual teachers have always told us that there’s no such thing as certainty. And I think deep down we all know this truth—it’s a major cause of anxiety. But we’ve built powerful and collectivity agreed upon strategies to try and keep the reality of uncertainty at bay. But in this moment, our strategies are failing spectacularly. And the global energy of this shared loss is potent.
Here we are. In a moment where everything we’ve taken for granted is being stripped away. And the suffering is immense. This is not a moment we’d ever choose. But it is the real moment we find ourselves in. Let’s fight the tendency to shut down.
I invite you to notice the posture of your body. Are you sitting, standing, walking? Whatever you’re doing are you holding any unnecessary tension? If so, can you release some of it with a little movement or adjustment?
What part of you is connected to the earth? Maybe your feet are on the floor or the ground? Maybe your whole back body is supported by a chair. Wherever you are tap into the reality that you are being held to the earth through the force of gravity. Every moment of every day you are being held to the earth. You are being held.
Root down into this support and then reach up into the vastness of the universe.
Feel your body in the space between earth and sky… and notice your breath.
You’re alive in this moment. You’re a living, breathing, being.
Say to yourself: “Here I am.” … Here I am. No longer in the past. Here I am. Not yet in the future. Here I am. Right here. Right now. What’s real?
What are you feeling?
Give your feelings a bit of space. Don’t judge them. Don’t control them. Let them come. Let them move.
Feelings only cause trouble when we suppress them or trap them. Notice what you’re feeling. Notice the sensation of these feelings in your body.
Respond to your feelings with movement. Maybe you want to shadow punch the air. Or do some jumping jacks. Maybe you want to bounce or shake or stretch. Feel your feelings and move with them.
Grief is the internal experience—the feeling—of loss. Mourning, on the other hand is the external part of loss. Grief is a process. Mourning is an action. It’s a ritual.
What are the actions we can take and the rituals we can enact in order to help us process the internal grief we’re feeling?
Let’s allow the action of our mourning to be the doubling down on the practices that nourish our hearts and help us show up in the world as our best selves. Maybe it’s prayer, or running, or tending an altar, or dancing, or drawing, or meditating, or cooking. Or whatever. Anything can be our practice. We’re in the midst of a global pandemic and we need our best selves. Please know that our best self has nothing to do with perfection and false happiness. Our best self is the part of us that yearns to reach our highest potential. And in this moment, reaching our highest potential requires a willingness to feel our feelings and face the discomfort of uncertainty. Reaching our highest potential requires a willingness to be present with what’s real. So let’s come back to the mantra. Here I am. Say it with me: Here I am.
Feel your breath. Notice what it feels like when breath enters the body. Notice what it feels like when breath leaves the body.
See if you can find some ease in your breath. Relax your shoulders and simply let your body be breathed.
Feel your body in the space between earth and sky. Let your attention find its way into your heart—into the center of your being. Remember that Divine Mystery is always and already here.
Notice, in this moment what you’re grateful for.
Hold your gratitude and your grief together. Feel them each fully. And say to yourself: Here I am.