I’ve been going for a walk or hike in the morning and late afternoon every day since the stay at home orders began. I walk regardless of the weather. It has become important to my stability and grounding. I just returned from one of these walks. The winds are howling, the rain is blowing in sheets across the fields. I leaned into the wind as I made my way home. I asked the storm, what can I share via my blog that may be of service. My head was down, shielding my face from the blowing wind as the daffodils came into my view. The response I heard was “In the midst of the wind, rain and darkening sky, the daffodils are still blooming.” I knew that was my answer.
I live in the higher elevations of the Berkshire hills of western Massachusetts. We have our own temperature zone. It has snowed at least once each week since I’ve been secluded at home, and the daffodils are still blooming. I’ve watched them be covered in six inches of snow, pummeled by sleet, coated with freezing rain, buffeted by forty to fifty mile per hour winds, and they are still blooming. It has taken some weeks for them to go from first emergence to bloom, the cold temperatures slowing the growth, and they are still blooming.
I have had many feelings during this time. I’ve felt grief, the loss of things I previously had and took for granted. I’ve felt gratitude for my home, a place of safety and warmth. I’ve felt fear for my family members and friends who are first responders, and grateful for their bravery. I’ve felt loneliness and I’ve been blessed by the unexpected gift of solitude. I’m grateful for a job I can do from home and am worried for those who’ve lost their jobs and face financial uncertainty. My heart breaks for people forced to be home when home is not a safe place. I have felt old fears awakened by the swirl of fear of an uncertain future, and in all of this compassion is still blooming.
In many ways, the buffeting of the pandemic storm has strengthened the practices, or perhaps a it is more accurate to say, it has strengthened my trust in them, and my trust in myself. I find regardless of my internal, emotional weather system, I can call on self-compassion to keep me blooming. Sometimes like the daffodils weighed down by freezing rain, my face and hope is flat on the ground, but compassion is still there, it is the ground holding me until the sun returns and I lift my head.
And as I sit in meditation and offer compassion out to the world, I hope we all can see the ways in which the daffodils are still blooming.
My journey of exploring self-compassion practices continues. Tonglen has become a regular part of my practice as I find it very helpful at this time, especially in sending care out to the world. Over the next few weeks I will explore affectionate breathing. In this practice, we cultivate a sense of gratitude and pleasure in how the breath support, nourishes and soothes. You can find two guided versions of the breath here.
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