The Covid Beast Meets the Meditating Yogi
It was Saturday afternoon and I had just finished teaching an hour workshop to ten women in a 12 step recovery group. I had been invited to be their speaker and they asked me to teach them how to meditate. If you are not familiar with the 12 Steps, step Eleven highlights the necessity of meditation with these words: sought through prayer and meditation to improve conscious contact with one’s higher power….” I was finishing up the workshop by having the group experience several minutes of healing silence. I was carefully scanning and enjoying the softness in people’s faces. There is this inner contentment I sense as people land in their bodies, breath and mind. After all that is what yoga means: to join two things together. In our western understanding of this it generally means joining of mind and spirit or body, or body, mind and breath. This felt sense of connection radiates outward and I rest in that energy knowing that peace is a tangible state of being-ness no matter what narratives we spin about our lives, and what illnesses challenge our daily experiences.
There were lots of smiles, some tears and nods. I rejoiced that I was able to the witness of the healing power of meditation. It is interesting to share that Google Scholar turns up almost 700,000 research documents on meditation, among them imaging studies that show increase activity in brain regions associated with attention, a higher volume of grey matter and lessened amygdala response to stimuli. These published studies document over and over the many physical and better immune function, less anxiety and depression, a heightened sense of well being, greater happiness and emotional self-control.
The group began talking excitedly amongst each other and I noticed that my phone was blown up with texts. And there it was the words I have been afraid of these past two and half years. “Mom, I am sorry I just tested positive for Covid.” These words would have been disturbing because he is a healthy young man that lives in New York. But not this day, these words were frightening because we had just picked up our grown son the day before and he was telling us he didn’t feel that great. Why didn’t we think of Covid when he shared that? Were we tired of the hypervigilance?
I sat for a moment and I watched my nervous system begin to activate. My heart beat faster and I had to ask myself what is next the right thing to do? And I heard in my head, “you need to tell the group.” And so I took a pause, I breathed and I felt my feet on the floor. I said “I need to share with you some news. “ I told them what I had just read and there was quietness in the room and then one person cheerfully said, “Well, we are glad you didn’t get that text before the workshop!” Everyone was kind and jokes ensued, “we won’t be hugging you good bye but we are grateful you came today,” they smiled.
This is a 2022 supportive response! It made me realize how being exposed to Covid isn’t the end of life and many people shared they had already had it. And so, I left with less guilt. There was still some guilt, that wasn’t mine to carry, but that is an old coping strategy that pops up under stress. I witnessed my dear son wrestle with that the whole week we healed together.
I went directly to the store and stocked up for the week. I even got the proverbial thanksgiving feast. I got a case of organic pedialyte and Thai made veggie clear broth soups. I prepared to meet this virus face to face. I had planned for this tete-a- tete by spending years nurturing myself with high vibe foods and positive thoughts. I ate mushrooms and drank Chinese herbs. I used the self care tools of ayurveda. I followed science and wore a mask in public spaces and turned down many social events. I walked for miles daily. Here it was, in my house and I was ready or at least I thought I was.
I have to say by the next day I could feel my systems gearing up. I felt dizzy and achy. My throat began itching and I drank even more Chinese herbs specifically created for this beginning encounter. First thing I did, was to take care of my beloved son because I knew the storm was coming.
By the afternoon of the first day, the covid beast began piercing me with sharp claws and my body was heated with fever. My throat hurt and memories of all the strep throat I had as a kid came into my fearful mind. I became convinced that I had strep throat and if I didn’t test positive I was going to get antibiotics.
The test came back with its two pink lines! I had to chuckle because I began hearing the song, “it came in like a wrecking ball.” It was swift and blurred my brain. It was hard to see and my hearing was muted like everything was under water. Every weak part of my body flared with severe pain. It was like it knew the weak points and it dug in with its teeth. I got angry at first!
The anger fueled the beast to dig deeper and I had to find another way to communicate with my immune system. I needed to visualize it and I took out my watercolor pencils and began to draw what I was seeing. I said affirmations of gratitude and compassion as I drew and throughout the days. I kept saying “thank you to all the scientists, thank to my immune system, thank you for loving friends that reached out to check on me.”
I began to get still and I felt moments of relief. The quieter I became, I was able to connect with the Wise Self, the Infinite One inside holding sacred space with this entity. There was this instant knowing that this beast was seeking the same things I wanted which were to live. It just wanted to live. Meditation became my greatest tool of communication as I navigated the challenges of feeling this virus inside of me.
More music came into my head as I thrashed with the feverish pain. …”Hello darkness my old friend, I have come to talk with you again.” I began to use these words to meditate with repeating them over and over. I chanted to myself as I used the ayurvedic tool of abhyanga on the fourth morning. Abhyanga is self massage with warm oil that you apply on the entire body from the scalp to the soles of the feet. It is said to assist in helping eliminating impurities from the body.
Later in the evening, I prepared myself for another night of hellish sleep although the oils of the morning had soothed my nervous system. However, I set an intention to meditate and I closed my eyes. I found myself floating away from the pain with my breath. I saw myself in a golden room with an ornate, white marble throne. I walked towards that throne and sat upon it. I felt that Wise Self inside me filled with calmness, compassion, non-judgmental and peace. And then slowly, out of the shadows, a swirling and what seemed to be a snarling alien being began moving into my space.
We looked at each other for what seemed like a long time. This entity had carnelian eyes. I found myself in the presence of a foreign life form. An inner knowing came into my heart about the intelligence of this beast and I had no fear as I gazed at it. As odd as this may seem, I found myself humbled by its presence. I wanted to hate it and fight it but in meditation there wasn’t room for those energies. I simply asked it to kindly release me and move on. Please!
Golden sparkles flecked with green began to snow down upon us. A musical mantra began to hum and vibrate into the space. The sounds were low at first and then I could hear the voice of Snatam Kaur, an angelic singer of the Kundalini lineage. The snarling began to fade away and I heard her words ang Sang Wahe Guru over and over again. The words of the mantra began to travel over my body and seemed to surround the alien life form as well. I had to look up the meaning of these words later but in those moments I heard this translation… “God is in every cell of my body, within every part of me is the infinite expression of the Divine…Ang Sang Wahe Guru…You are whole and perfect…your are Divine Energy and Divine healing is yours to claim at all moments. Focus on your breathing…inhaling and exhaling.. calming… allow this miracle of healing to occur….”
As fast at the Beast arrived, it seemed to leave the way it came. The snarling became a whimper, the talons retracted and relief flooded me like the golden light in the meditation. I woke up in the middle of the night soaking wet. My clothes and bed sheets were like a river of wetness unlike anything I had ever experienced. I could feel the healing permeating every hurt in my body restoring its wholeness. And I bowed to yoga, to meditation and said…thank you. Thank you!!!
Later I googled the mantra in my meditation, I found this translation: Ang Sang Wahe Guru… the dynamic, loving energy of the universe vibrates in every cell of my being….she STANDS and befriends the beast of Covid.
And so it is…