What We Long For

July 21, 2020 8:09 AM

“If you don't like your life the way it is today, well...don't worry, because things will change.  And, if you love your life the way it is today, well....I'm sorry, but it's still going to change." A wise yogi

Change happens. It happens often. Sometimes it’s joyful. Sometimes it’s unbearable. It is almost always surprising and unexpected.

Change is the one true constant in life, and it is why yogis strive to practice detachment: whatever comes, accept; whatever goes, accept.

Accepting the changes that 2020 has brought has proved to be a Herculean task. Unexpected, certainly. Unbearable, often. Unpredicted? Well, maybe not.

Remember The Popcorn Report back in 1991? It was written by Faith Popcorn, considered the Nostradamus of her time in the marketing field, and it was required reading when I was at Kent State.

To set the stage, in 1991 there were no cell phones, no internet, no social media, no computers or ipads. Nada. Dial up phones and newspapers ruled, my friends! Yet Faith Popcorn predicted that 34% of the entire U.S. workforce would be working from home by 2020. An April 2020  MIT study found that 34% of those who had been employed outside their home in March were now working from home. Was Popcorn a soothsayer? No, just a very savvy lady studying possibilities that might reshape how American products and services were managed and delivered years later.

That same semester, we read “The Structure of Scientific Revolution” by Thomas Kuhn. In it, Kuhn talked about paradigm shifts -- important change that happens when the usual way of thinking about or doing something is replaced by a new and different way. Think the Industrial Revolution, the change from horse and buggy to the automobile,  the Great Depression, the invention of the telephone or electricity. All created a paradigm shift where how we lived, how we worked, how we played, moved from Point A to Point B.

And now, Covid-19. For most of us, “the virus” is the most formidable and stunning paradigm shift we’ve experienced.

Popcorn and Kuhns believe paradigm shifts come along once a generation, and create a profound global realignment of industries, economies, and everyday life.

Everyday life. Okay, think back to January 2020. A lifetime ago, right? What mattered then?

Our job titles.
Our social status.
Our net worth.
Our material possessions.
Our public “face.”

Do you see a pattern?  Those are all things that exist outside our inner being. They are external trappings that suck us into believing that we are what we have and that we cannot be good/happy/successful unless we have more and do better than others. They lead us to constantly check our bank balance, not our inner grace, and to crave “stuff.”

Covid has kicked the foundation out from under us, upending our daily routines and practices. Why dump thousands of dollars into the latest-and-greatest decorating trend when no one can safely come in our homes? Why shop for chic clothes when we “go to work” via Zoom and people only see us from the neck up? Do we really need the biggest SUV out there when it’s not safe to carpool anymore?  

If it’s not our titles or status or wealth that fills our well in the time of Covid, what does? What is it that we long for since Covid?

Human contact.

The parents of my editor, Kathleen, are in an assisted living facility and she can only visit them outside, sitting at either end of a 6-foot scrubby plastic table. They cannot touch. They cannot exchange objects or gifts. This past week was her father’s 95th birthday. Kathleen couldn’t bring him a cupcake or a gift, couldn’t give him a hug or a kiss.  She said her arms literally ached when saying goodbye that day, she wanted to hug him so badly. These small emotional devastations are occurring every day in all of our lives since Covid. They are what we long for.

The need for people is a paradigm shift away from the material, digital world we have inhabited in recent decades. The word “distance” has become a swear word for many of us, as we learn that it is the people in our lives that matter, not the things. We have had to become remote, and find ourselves craving proximity.

So how do we deal with this paradigm shift, lovelies?

First let’s look at how NOT to deal with it: By being judgmental of others instead of observational.

When we judge, we render an uninformed opinion about someone’s actions, beliefs or character. Judgement is instant, usually uninformed, and pretty much always biased. Judgment lashes out and creates disunity. When we judge, we attack others out of fear and anxiety, and jump to ill-founded conclusions.

When we observe, we gather information and process it before responding. Observation is neutral, contemplative, thoughtful. When we observe, we give ourselves the space and grace to understand and accept the paradigm shifts we are dealing with, and to find gentle, compassionate ways to cope, for ourselves and for our fellow humans.

We are all being challenged to rise above our consciousness of the past. To confront the tired, judgmental habits that hold us back. To examine our patterns and old ways of thinking, give our hearts and minds space to observe and to process our new “normal.”  

For me, the best way to create more space and grace in my own life is through the practice of Walking Meditation or Shambala Yoga. I practice Shambala at least once a week, all year long, even in winter. If you've never done a walking meditation before, click here and download some thoughts on how to establish your own Shambala practice. My only physical companions are my pups. Find a beach or a wooded trail that is not well traveled (my go-to places are Bradley Woods in Westlake or East Harbor State Park in Marblehead). Listen to the song "Walk Quietly" by Trevor Hall as you enter the woods. Let yourself settle into a gentler state of mind. When the music ends, just be… the trees have many answers for you, Lovelies.

Namaste - ROSE