Tuesday, March 17, 2020
On Monday, March 16th, I had planned a video call with the Education and Hope family from here in Connecticut where I have been for the past few weeks. I wanted to have the opportunity to share what I have learned about how to stay safe with the Coronavirus, then newly detected in Guatemala. I had hoped to dispel any misinformation and help prepare folks for changes to come. The breaking news that Monday morning was that a 14-day national quarantine would be in immediate effect to help prevent the spread of the virus. Uncertainty and confusion were rapidly increasing.
It seems our video conversation was divinely timed. The quarantine meant that we would have to temporarily close our program that same day and I had the chance to talk to the group about fear and anxiety in times of crisis. I encouraged everyone to stay informed but to limit their news intake, and to be aware of times when their minds were running too fast ahead into the future.
With so many unknowns right now, there will inevitably be moments we are tangled in worries. I encouraged everyone to continue to reach for the mindfulness techniques we have learned to instill calm. I suggested that they embrace self-isolation not from a place of fear of contagion, but from a place of compassion for protecting others. Instead of feeling victimized by a situation that’s out of our control, to feel empowered by the idea that by staying at home we are helping to slow the spread of the virus, keeping ourselves and others safe.
We ended the conversation with a guided meditation. I encouraged everyone to place their feet firmly on the ground and feel how the earth is always supporting us. We practiced slow, deep breaths as a reminder that this calm we were now experiencing lives inside of each of us; we can choose to seek this peace at any moment. We remembered that when we feel consumed by future fear we have to call our minds back to meet our bodies, to do our best to inhabit the present moment.
We summoned the love of our international community and the compassion of those who walk beside us in solidarity. We prayed for those feeling just as frightened and vulnerable as we are but without the safety net that protects our Education and Hope community each day. We offered gratitude for the knowledge that our lives are woven together even when it is necessary for us to be physically apart.
I was so thankful to hear afterward from the staff that the mood had lightened considerably. Our family members left for home with the confidence that while we can’t predict what’s ahead, we know we will ride through this storm together. Hoping you safe and healthy, wherever you may be reading this.