3 Small Practices for Living in the Coronavirus Era

Bonnie Myotai Treace offers these three “small” reflections to help us stay open-hearted and connected as we reckon with the fear and uncertainty coronavirus has brought into our lives.

Bonnie Myotai Treace
20 March 2020
Photo by John Robertson.

One Small Practice: Gassho Mind

Someone approaches and you need them not to get closer.
There will be a flicker of fear or anxiety. Exhale.
Say, “please stop there” and bring your hands palm-to-palm
into gassho, the mudra of intimacy.
Step back a bit if you need to.
Smile and meet their eyes warmly.
Let yourself feel their vulnerability, along with your own.
It is okay to take care of yourself in this and other ways.
Even more important: don’t let fear close your heart.

Another Small Practice: Show It

We are the right sangha, the right community
for this challenge.
Every day find a way, big or small, to show care for another.
At least one. Every day.
Each of us will as always have different opportunities,
vulnerabilities, capacities.
Elders and the ill have wisdom and patience, given long experience with loss, resilience, and how attitude is everything. Offer these lovingly.
Write the note, whisper the word, etc, ad infinitum.
Those younger and able have energy,
chances to be creative in how they serve,
the quickness to see what needs changing.
Offer these. Everyday.
Clean, garden, cook
write innovative programs,
create the next world.
Let’s just start, and shift from self-preoccupation
to the activities of bodhisattvas.

A Third: Memorial Mind

Grief is coming, is here, will be here.
Make space and time for it.
Love, appreciation, reflection, sorrow:
You will need to sit quietly and let these happen.
We need to be real, are capable of being real,
Are called on to be real.
So, for at least five minutes
Let grief in. Let it have its way.
There are doctors, nurses, caregivers
dying right now for their patients, for us.
Moms have died. Dads. Beloveds in every country.
And there will be millions upon millions more.
To be real is to feel this.
Otherwise, we’re in denial.
“I will not forget you.”
Set a timer if you need to, something to call you back.
Exhale. Feel your breath. Be where you are.
Vow to not take the people around you
or gone from you
for granted.

Bonnie Myotai Treace

Bonnie Myotai Treace

Bonnie Myotai Treace, Sensei, served for many years as vice-abbess of Zen Mountain Monastery and abbess of the Zen Center of New York City. In 2004, she founded Hermitage Heart, a Zen training program with a special emphasis on home practice. She lives and teaches in Black Mountain, North Carolina.