A Pandemic, A Poem, and a Pose

Hello dear friends,

There are pieces of paper all over my house, stuck in the desk drawer and various books and sections in my planner with short lines, notes to myself about some profound essay I want to write about this pandemic. There’s the personal angle, “I don’t want to go back to normal. Normal wasn’t working. Normal will never come back. We are all going to be changed. I hope anyway. I hope I learn something and change. How will I change?”

The parenting angle. “We are NOT OK! (Yes, we love having more time with our kids, its precious AND we are not ok.)

There’s the social justice angle. “This pandemic exposes yet again the disparities in access to health care, and ‘good outcomes’, social support and economic privilege, that run sharply along the divisions of race, class and martial status.” And “How are we profiling people in masks? Are Asians paranoid? Black men up to no good? Are you sick?”

The ecological justice angle. “The Earth is so happy! They sky is so clear and air so fresh. Can all this finally help us, help me, address climate change?”

Then there’s the spiritual / religious angle that runs akin to the aforementioned personal angle, “We are an Easter people. Resurrection is transformation.” (I swear I thought of this before my rector said it.) “Lament is a sacred tradition. Don’t dismiss or bury your feelings. Don’t let your optimism hurt others. Don’t try a spiritual bypass.” “Now is the time for Benedictine steadiness and conversion. Stand in this time, these feelings, this unknown and grow even if, especially if, you do not know what direction that will take.”

So many thoughts and emotions. Which is, I suspect, exactly where you are too. No conclusions, no inspiration beyond responding to the circumstances of each day with as much breath and patience and love as possible held in conversation with tension, anxiety, and overwhelm.

And this. Yoga, art, books, television. And poetry, which seems to be how I spill out emotion these days. So here’s a little poem followed by a restorative pose I recently learned from Amy Ippoliti’s newsletter. May it feed you well.

What I won’t do on the Sabbath.

I can tell you what I won’t be doing tomorrow.
I won’t be checking social media.
I won’t be going to church, in person or online.
I won’t be sitting in front of the TV all day
Or washing floors or cooking elaborate meals.
I won’t be catching up on email.
I’ll try not to have a to-do list of relaxing activities.
I might dig in the dirt or paint a pot.
I guarantee I’ll look at the sky.
I might walk in the woods.
I hope I remember to build a fairy house and say a prayer.
If I had any confidence I’d sketch something beautiful.
Maybe I’ll call a friend.
I’d like to write an essay.
I want silence or an audiobook – or a real book.
I’ll drink my tea without doing something else like reading or working.
Just me and the tea and a window.
I’ll give space for fear and grief and exhaustion to
Come out of confinement and manifest as simmering pain in my bones.
Tomorrow I will practice social resistance through rest.
Or maybe, one day, perhaps tomorrow, I’ll expect less of myself.

Delightful Restorative Pose

This little bit of deliciousness is perfect for when you need to rest, or when you want to nap but your nerves are too jittery to let you sleep. It’s also good for whenever the mood strikes you. It’s pictured using a chair and yoga props and can just as easily be done using the couch, a belt, and a pillow or stack of blankets.

You will need:

Chair, 2 – 3 blankets, Bolster (or a firm pillow or several folded blankets to make a stack), a strap

  1. If possible, find a quiet space. Otherwise, try it with your kids running around anyway. (I will, too. If I can remember.)
  2. Place a folded blanket on the seat and back of your chair. This is to cushion your legs and keep your feet warm and can be omitted if using your couch.
  3. Place a bolster, stack of blankets or firm pillow up against the chair or couch.
  4. Sit on the bolster and place a strap or belt around your shins. I find this to be a key element in the relaxing nature of this pose because it helps the energy maintain a connection to the midline, which my body always needs. If you give it a good try and come to the opposite conclusion, remove the strap.
  5. Swing your feet up onto the chair or couch and lie back on the bolster.
  6. The edge of the bolster, cushion, or blankets should be at about the base of your shoulder blades so your chest can open. If this is too deep place a small towel under your head or another folded blanket under your upper back to reduce the angle. Cover yourself with an additional blanket for warmth if you prefer.
  7. Stretch your arms overhead and close your eyes.
  8. Breathe.
  9. Stay here for as long as you like.
  10. When you are ready slowly lift your legs off the chair and carefully roll onto your side before coming up to a seat.

Be well, my friends, in whatever way that looks like to you.

Love,

Melinda

Photos © Melinda Emily Thomas

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