Mindfulness in Difficult Times

by Velleda C. Ceccoli Ph.D. on March 22, 2020

It has been quite some time since I wrote a post, but given what is going on in the world at the moment, it seems like a good time for a comeback. So, Hello dear readers near and far, this is perhaps the first time that many of us will be homebound: doing our work, minding children, caring for partners and elders. In different parts of the world, the response to Covid-19 is starting to be the same: uncertainty, fear, panic buying, and a need to know as much as we can about what this virus is like, what we can and must do about it, how to help ourselves, our families and our communities. All of us are experiencing the impact of this pandemic. We are, all of us, in the proverbial same boat – afloat an uncertain ocean. And furthermore we are, each of us, captain’s of our own ship – we are in charge of taking responsibility. Covid-19 has united us in the way that major calamities and catastrophes do – reminding us that we are one human race, with the same basic needs and wants , and that it is only by coming together, mindfully, that we can survive.

I want to share some thoughts from the book: Consolations – The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words by poet David Whyte. This particular essay looks at the crisis all of us face when our internal worlds collide with the outside world.

Crisis is unavoidable . Every human life seems to be drawn, eventually, as if by some unspoken parallel, some tidal flow or underground magnetic field, toward the raw, dynamic essentials of its existence, as if everything up to that point had been a preparation for a meeting, for a confrontation in an elemental form with our essential flaw, and with what an individual could until then, only receive stepped down, interpreted or diluted.

This experience of absolute contact with an essential hidden dynamic, now understood to be essential to our lives, often ignored but now making itself felt, where the touchable rawness of life becomes part of the fabric of the everyday, and a robust luminous vulnerability, becomes shot through with the necessary, imminent and inevitable prospect of loss, has been described for centuries as the dark night of the soul: La note oscura del alma. But perhaps this dark night could be more accurately described as the meeting of two immense storm fronts, the squally vulnerable edge between what overwhelms human beings from the inside and what overpowers them from the outside.

The waveform that overwhelms a maturing human being from the inside is the inescapable nature of their own flaws and weaknesses, their self deceptions and their attempts to create false names and stories to place themselves in the world; the felt need to control the narrative of the story around them with no regard to outside revelation. The immense wave on the outside is the invitation to give that self up, to be borne off by the wave and renamed, revealed and re-ordered by the powerful flow.

Walking the pilgrim edge between the two, holding them together, is the hardest place to stay, to breathe of both and make a world of both and to be active in their exchange: aware of our need to be needed, our wish to be seen, our constant need for help and succor, but inhabiting a world of luminosity and intensity, subject to the wind and the weather, surrounded by the music of existence, able to be found by the living world and with a wild self-forgetful ability to respond to its call when needed; a rehearsal in fact for the act of dying, a place where inside and outside can reverse and flow with no fixed form.


Be well. Be mindful. And pay attention to the details they have always mattered.

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