Let go or be dragged. - Zen proverb
All of us are afraid. There’s no denying our national, in fact worldwide, state of fear. Fear of death, fear of this unknown virus and how it might affect us individually. Fear of transmission to and from our pets. Fear of going to the grocery store. Fear of eating fresh vegetables and fruit. Fear is everywhere.
What would it be like to choose vulnerability instead? Vulnerability brings honesty, and awkwardness because we freely admit we don’t know what to do in a situation. Vulnerability allows us to experience grief. The other day when I wrote about losing my high school teacher to this illness, I allowed you (and myself) to see my own vulnerability. It wasn’t easy to put that out into the world in writing. I gave myself permission to cry, to feel sad, to do nothing the rest of the day. Vulnerability is a generous gift we can give ourselves.
Sooner or later, we’re all going to have to make a choice to recognize that this virus is here, that it will touch each and every one of us in some way, that life will never be exactly the same. We’re going to have to let go of the idea of “normal.” Some of us will have to be dragged into letting go of self-protection. I think Brene Brown says it best:
There is little that allows us to be more vulnerable than listening to our own heartbeat. Our heartbeat and our breath are life itself pulsing through our bodies. We don’t “do” anything to breathe, or to help our hearts beat. They simply continue within us until we are no longer alive.
Listening to your heartbeat is a deceptively simple exercise that comes from Kyogen, a classical form of theater in Japan. The Kyogen master, Kaoru Matsumoto, taught this to Philip Shepherd. The exercise is paraphrased from Shepherd’s book, New Self, New World.
Lie on your back in and relax until you can hear or feel your heartbeat. Count up to sixty heartbeats, and then gently sit up.
How long did it take before you could hear or feel your heartbeat?
What did you have to give up to allow yourself pay attention to only your heart?