Written by Tommasina Marlow
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To be fully alive, fully human, and completely awake is to be continually thrown out of the nest.
 
Pema Chodron
 
Oh, how quickly our lives changed! I sit here late at night oddly reminded of my youth. I can stay up late, listen to classical music and write. Oh, how long since I have lived so simply! I feel oddly at peace in this moment. As I reflect back over the last few weeks, what comes to mind is just how much duality we are all experiencing. I myself have flip flopped back and forth between so many emotions it has been like watching a tennis match.
 
Life as we know it has suddenly been changed. At first, I felt denial. I made jokes to ease the unsettled feeling growing. But, slowly everything began to shut down and I was faced with fear for how to provide for my family. I felt panic as I decided how to stretch food and worried about the weeks to come. In such a mindset, I struggled to figure out technology and the basics of translating my skills teaching to something compatible for online. My mind was blocked because I was gripped with worries.
 
So what I have noticed is that there is a huge opportunity right now in the way my life has changed to witness the dualistic nature of my thoughts and emotions. For as I settled into quarantine, I oddly shifted gears. I got more sleep. I ate better as I had time to prepare food and be mindful. I began to find humor in the absurdity of the situation and let myself relax. From that place, I became creative. I began to recreate how I worked. From that open place, I picked up new skills quickly.
 
Since that point, I have dipped back into fear when my daughter became ill and bounced back to feeling warm and happy again as she began to improve. Gratitude rewarmed my heart with the generosity of the community in their encouragement and support. Back and forth, back and forth…I will have a negative thought and my outlook and feelings follow. Then, it shifts with a positive.
 
Now, I understand full well the power of neutrality. What I mean is first I change something I consider negative into positive by finding good in what might be a dark situation. That’s a great first step but then I get attached to feeling good and ultimately fear losing that feeling so swing back to the other side. Ultimately, my peace comes in being neutral and simply witnessing what is before me. From that neutral place, I simply live. In recent years, this has brought me such a sense of freedom. That said, the circumstances of the last few weeks have made it clear I am not quite enlightened yet. I jest a bit in that comment. I am going to go ahead and admit I am human. But, the time feels so ripe to grow…to learn to fly.
 
So here’s what I am taking a long time getting around to saying. For every thought and feeling we have right now the opposite is true. I feel distanced from my friends but I feel closer to my daughter. I feel unsettled by my schedule being off but I feel recharged by my schedule changing. I feel fearful of the future yet excited too by the global shift that can happen due to all our lives being disrupted. Yep, we were thrown out of the nest big time and could collectively learn to fly if enough of us catch on.
 
I say “we” now because I do not believe that even in isolation we are alone. We are connecting now in ways we have not before. We are becoming more and more creative. Something is happening. If you have a moment of fear, know you are not alone and like me you are probably just human. I will tell you what works for me. I keep starting over with a deep breath and then steadily like we do on the mat in yoga class meter my breath. Slowly, I feel my heart that had constricted in fear begin to open in courage again. Somehow my eyes clear when my heart opens. Those friends you miss on the mat beside you are still here. Our mats are just set up a little farther away. Your open heart though is connected to them and to me. And, our physical studio we love so much, if we suspend our belief that it resides in physical form, we can see that it is alive and well virtually.
 
I miss all of you in one moment. Yet, in the next moment, I do not because I feel you and see you online and realize it is just my attachment to the physical that makes you seem like you are not there. Dear yoga community, now is our time to practice in the deepest way. Until we sit around the big table at Oya drinking tea again, know that I pour my cup at home as you pour yours and a part of us shares it just in a new way. Neutrality. Our current situation just is and yet our truth is the same. We are connected.