I found this Tim Ferris podcast with Jack Kornfield to be quite helpful and refreshing that it didn’t focus solely on COVID-19.
Jack Kornfield trained as a Buddhist monk in the monasteries of Thailand, India, and Burma, shortly thereafter becoming one of the key teachers to introduce Buddhist mindfulness practice to the West. He has taught meditation internationally since 1974.Tim Ferriss
In the podcast Jack reminisces about his time spent with Baba Ram Dass, particularly in the last few months of his life. I had picked up Be Here Now after hearing of Ram Dass’ passing. I’ve been on a new spiritual path the past 6 months of my life, and found Ram Dass’ teachings shared in his book very uplifting and admittedly, at times, frustrating as the illustrations are a typographer’s worst nightmare. But above all, in tune with the path I’ve been on lately in terms of awakening consciousness.
For most of my adult life I’ve rejected the notion of being spiritual. In fact, I actively avoided it, despising the Catholic upbringing I had and the hypocrisy of it all. On one hand the religion tries to teach you only god can judge, on the other hand I see endless amounts of catholics taking that role on for themselves. Once my mom passed, I rejected it even more so. Her spiritual connections would send me into such deep sorrow and anger. I’ve mainly spent the last 17 years avoiding that grief.
Fast forward to 2020 where I’m now facing much of this again. My stepmom passed away unexpected late last year, and it’s been the first time that I’ve enjoyed my spiritual encounters with her. Right after her passing she would come to me as a bright orange, warming glow. I felt happy, reassured, and comforted by her presence. I’d wave at where I felt she was, giving her a smile, letting her know I “see” you. Ever since her twin passed away when she was 19 she’d always tried to reconnect with her on a spiritual level. The instant I learned of her passing I felt solace knowing their souls were reunited again.
Now I have a different relationship with spirituality. I was mistaken for most of my life thinking this meant religion. Today I view it more as allowing myself to connect with myself on a deeper level. I’m sure at it’s essence most religions are trying to teach this as well, however I think that message has been diluted with the passing on of teachings over time. I used to completely close down my energy centers at the mere thought of “God”. Now I embrace the fact that we are all “god”, not that we are “gods”, but to mean we are all connected as one.
I can’t help but think that my newly found spiritual awakening was preparing me for my stepmom’s death and the continued loss I experienced for months after. I believe it’s still preparing me for what’s ahead. In the upcoming months and years, I imagine many of us will be experiencing overwhelming loss, grief, and depression. It’s often not until we hit rock bottom that we seek out changes to help improve our wellbeing. But why do we wait until it gets so bad that we feel like we can’t take it anymore?
One of the things that Jack mentioned in the podcast really resonated with me was how depression often spirals people down into negative thoughts to the point that they convince themselves that they want to die. No doubt many of us have been there at some point in our lives, if not perhaps there right now. Our psyche can be evil telling us over and over how bad things are, how awful this life is, how horrible you are. Jack paraphrases teachings he’d learned from Stan Grof, psychiatrist and expert in non-ordinary states of consciousness and one of the founders and chief theoreticians of transpersonal psychology, saying:
“When people feel that they want to commit suicide, they are right that something needs to die, they’re mistaken in thinking that it’s their body that needs to die. But they are facing something that really does have to die, and changing maybe the whole way they’re living their life, it may be the history that they have, that they have to die to—that you could call it ego death, some sense of identity that they have that they don’t want to let go of, but they have to.”Jack Kornfield, Tim Ferriss podcast #414
Among such dark topics I oddly found myself at peace with this segment of the interview. How true I found it to be, and how confused and sad I was in years past when I’ve let myself get to this point. In the weeks (and more likely months) ahead where we need to practice self-isolation and social distancing I encourage everyone to not allow your psyche to bring you down. Do things today that can help you feel better now, tomorrow, and down the road. Invest in your mental health by practicing being present, allow yourself to quiet your mind, get in-tuned with your body. Turn off the TV and distance yourself from social media, even though it can give you tiny spurts of dopamine now, it will only make you feel worse in the end.
Allow yourself to feel bored.
I know that sounds counter-intuitive to our world today, but it’s in that boredom that your intuition will speak up. It can allow you to tap into your conscious awareness to reveal what we all have within, our intuition guiding us on the right path we are meant to take. Reach out to a friend on the phone. Even though the current times require us to be physically apart, I believe now is the time to allow this to bring us closer together, by being there for each other in whatever means we can.
Deep breath in….
Long exhale out…
Deep breath in…
Long exhale out…
As long as you focus on improving yourself in healthy ways, everything will be ok.