I am of the age where I am required or, it is strongly suggested, that I shelter in place. I don’t have a fever. I do my work from home-on my computer. Not surrounded by too many others- though going to Costco the other day was definitely a less than 6 foot apart experience. (If I get sick, it’s probably Costco’s fault. )

I have gone shopping. Went out and had my haircut. Watching a lot of t.v. – boring as ever. Texting, emailing, calling friends, doing a lot of reading; some cooking and cleaning. Have definitely stocked the fridge and cabinets, but still can’t locate available toilet paper. And, have started taking a class online too. But, all this is not too much of a far cry from how I have been living my life the past few months anyway.

What would I do if there was no virus? Just going out more. What would you be doing? How different is it for many of you? If you are without work and pay, it is likely quite different. And it’s probably a good idea to get really creative now about how you manage your money and even how you are going to budget once this nightmare has passed (and it will pass). It also can be a time to meditate, create and value who and what is important in your life.

I find it a bit humorous that people are making a big stink about ‘sheltering’ when it has really only been a few days. Schools are not even closed in all states. Here, in California, the schools and libraries closed down officially between one and two weeks ago–THAT’S ALL. Vacations are longer than that. Though if you live paycheck to paycheck, it can be very frightening. But, becoming frantic about it, does not help your situation.

If you have a family, I realize many of you can’t stand to spend more than 2 hours at most with your kids or your partner and may find yourselves lovingly challenged having to deal with this situation. One way could be actually talking to each other. Finding out about what is important. Every tv station and streaming video is giving tips on how to keep busy and entertain your kids. Well, how about doing something totally different – NOTHING.

What if you learned how to and taught your family how to meditate. Think about it. Spending 10 minutes a day (or more) being totally quiet and pensive, focusing on your breath or on a beautiful object and letting your thoughts just drift by without judgement. And, the entire household does it as an experiment on togetherness.

If you live alone, you can practice it yourself. I do. It can be ‘contagious’. Once you start a regular practice, you find you really look forward to doing it everyday. What’s more, you can reap the benefits of meditation: improved health; less pain; lower blood pressure, lower anger and stress in your life leading to a happier and much healthier life; counter the effects of the aging brain (yes, it can keep you looking and thinking younger), and so much more. You gain more compassion for yourself and others. It also helps with focusing and learning – helping you and your children to function in a stressful world. And, calms both you and the kids – they can learn this early and carry it with them throughout life. Meditation even helps getting through the deep concerns you have about money. Things pop up in meditation that can clear the way for you too.

It really isn’t that hard. People say, “I just can’t do that. I’m not that type of person.” Of course you can. Anyone can. People all over the world do it. It’s just a matter of being committed and caring about yourself. Because people associate meditation with a group of orange clad monks sitting on pillows or concrete and chanting, you think you have to do it that way to meditate. Not so.

Besides being able to just sit in a quiet place, focus on your breath and count or say ‘one’ or ‘om’ or anything else you want to say, like ‘love’, ‘peace’ or say nothing at all, that’s how it starts. Take 3 deep breaths, then go back to comfortable natural breathing. When your mind wanders – and it will – it’s supposed to – just notice it, “oh, there goes my active mind again – wandering.” DON’T JUDGE IT. Bring it back to your breath or your word or an object that you might be focusing on. Set a timer for 5 minutes the first day and just NOTICE NOTICE NOTICE how it is. The second day add a minute, another minute the next day…etc. etc. When you are at 20 minutes, you will be very surprised how fast that time has gone and how wonderful you feel – and you might even want to do more. If you are doing this as a family, challenge each other to see who can sit the longest (okay, maybe this isn’t a good idea) or give a token or reward for the longest meditator – but they have to really be doing it, not just sitting (though that would be nice too.)

This too shall pass and hopefully, we don’t return to our previous normal. We have learned something from all this and it has brought us all closer and more compassionate. Keep on meditating. And, maybe this new normal of compassion and caring could go viral.

Please let me know if you do it and if you do, how it worked out for you.

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