soul sustenance

I am back in Taipei, relieved to be held in the space of home.

I am feeling prickly for a heightened awareness of unequal world we live in. To be able to fly home is a privilege. To have a government that provides a safety net and good universal healthcare is a privilege, too, when it should be a human right.

I am feeling grateful and sometimes excited and sometimes strange, rocked by wave after wave of emotion, inside and outside and all around us.

The Taiwanese government is strictly enforcing a 14 day home quarantine for everyone arriving from abroad. I can’t go outside my house, even for a walk, and am essentially attached to my phone: if I put it on airplane mode or repeatedly miss their calls, I’ll find the local authorities at my door. Restrictive as they are–I’m appreciative of the measures. Because of the government’s caution, outside that same door, life is continuing quite normally here.

I am feeling well-equipped for isolation (if not for having to stay by my phone 24/7). As a Cancer Virgo Taurus, I have an abundance of essential oils and bath salts to use and Feng Shui to complete. As an only child who has gone through several periods of depression, seasonal or otherwise–I’ve done a fair few deep dives into the murky waters of solitude.

Through the discovery of and care for the self, we move to discovery and care for the collective.

A few questions for you:

How will you use your past experiences, your strengths and your wisdom–a personal toolkit, of sorts–to embrace this as an opportunity for increased creativity and empathy?

How do we sustain ourselves in times like these–not just physically and emotionally, but on a soul level?

This is my answer, for this moment, for now.

Here is a little inspiration for you on this journey. Peppered with baby photos, to remind of the importance of play, and drawn from the tools that have worked for me, tried and true, when life becomes unexpectedly unmoored.

Inspiration Number 1 – Get subtle with it.

Get yin, get flowy, get intuitive. For whatever amount of time works for you, take a real break from productivity. Your to-do lists will be there later.

Soak into a detailed daydream. Stare into the center of a Sri Yantra (there’s a beautiful one above). Eye gaze with a bougainvillea. Find the pattern in the grain of wood on your table, the circles on the ceiling, the migration of ants on the floor…

Lose yourself a little, it feels good.

Inspiration Number 2 – Express yourself.

Move and stretch and salute the sun and maybe evolve into dancing. Or just have a dance party. Do a handstand–against the wall or in the middle of the room, you strong thing–or a backbend–camel, wheel, shooting star.

Come back to things you used to do. Get all dressed up with nowhere to go. Color and draw. Look through your old photo albums and amass pictures from the internet (a la our Tumblr days). Make a collage, a vision board, a video, a blog post.

Try to break out of your usual patterns of movement. Walk backwards. Roll around on the floor. And repeat.

Inspiration Number 3 – Take stock.

Create a map of your life, your movement, your journey to this day—on the physical, mental, and astral plane. Plot it on a piece of paper, paint it, put it in an Excel spreadsheet. Read your old journals and notes. Study yourself.

What seasons or times of year are tougher for you? Which ones are rosier? Do you spot any repeating cycles in your life? How many years? What cycle are you in now?

Understanding the past in order to move forward, freer.

As Clarissa Pinkola Estés writes,

“There is not only time to contemplate, but also to learn, and uncover the forgotten, the disused, and the buried. There we can imagine the future and also pore over the scar maps of the psyche, learning what led to what, and where we will go next.”

Inspiration Number 4 – Practice radical love and acceptance.

Remind yourself that this is happening as part of the turnings of the universe, that you were born here and now for a reason, and that you have been here before, in some form or the other.

If you don’t vibe with that line of thinking, remind yourself that this is just the way it is, and thus the way it has to be. Remember, we are all practicing. Cuddle your cats. Cuddle your plants. Cuddle yourself.

This moment is the only moment. This moment is exactly as it should be.

Inspiration Number 5 – Tune in.

Sit with yourself. See what your internal world has to say. Embrace a moment of emptiness, without music or voices or books or screens–whether for thirty seconds or thirty minutes. It can be scary. It can also be fun and fascinating and something you look forward to, too.

Then allow something to speak to you.

Tune into an inanimate or animate object, a piece of nature, a piece of art. Every time I do this–whether it’s the ocean or the darkness or the trees–I emerge with a deep sense of calm and inner-standing that hints at a truth much bigger than any one being.

Inspiration Number 6 – Come home to your Buddha nature.

Somewhere along the way, in all the quiet and the solitude, we get in touch with our true selves. The Buddha nature refers to the seed of enlightenment contained within us: the freedom and the contentedness deeper than the wrappings of the ego and the machinations of the mind.

I love the photo above because it captures how we are born into a state of contentedness. No pretensions or self-consciousness, just being.

Our true nature.

We can always come back.

~

I hope you take away from this post what you need. May your time at home be nourishing. And if it starts to feel a bit heavy, there is a quote by Aldous Huxley that has helped me in times like these (but not quite like these, because these are strange indeed):

“It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly, child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply… I was so preposterously serious in those days, such a humorless little prig. Lightly, lightly–it’s the best advice ever given me. No rhetoric, no tremolos, no self-conscious persona putting on its celebrated imitation of Christ or Little Nell. And of course, no theology, no metaphysics. Just the fact of dying and the fact of clear light… There are quicksands all about you, sucking at your feet… that’s why you must walk so lightly.

Lightly my darling, on tiptoes and no luggage, not even a sponge bag, completely unencumbered.”

We have a chance to drop the baggage and move lightly now. To embrace this moment of pause and contraction before an inevitable expansion in the collective.

Here and now: a fissure from which green tendrils of change can unfurl.

~

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