Rely on Your Strength

As we move into the next phase of recovery, many of us are suffering from anxiety. I think it’s because we know it’s time to move forward but we don’t know what to expect. We also can’t be sure that we’re not going to cause more harm to ourselves or to others. My morning meditation evoked a memory that boosted my spirit and I thought I’d share the story.

Several years ago, a friend and I went on a trip to Puerto Rico. While sitting on the beach sipping a drink, we stared at a small island in the distance. We were both about to turn 40, so we began tossing around the idea of whether or not we could reach that island by swimming.

Behind us, there was a small kiosk selling an assortment of beach items including snorkeling gear. The sales clerk was quite friendly. We inquired about the distance and she rented us the equipment easily.

We stood on the edge of the water and put on the black goggles and positioned the mouth piece. I was looking forward to scuba diving, like in the movies. I teased my friend, she punched my arm and we started our journey. Within seconds of my face hitting the water, I knew the goggles were tight and overwhelming. The mouth piece felt enormous. It wasn’t a very good feeling at all.

My friend took the lead and slowly, I got the hang of it. I kept my thoughts steady. I was careful not to let water get into the tube. I didn’t like the sound of my breathing, but I carried on. At one point, my friend turned around and gave me a thumbs up. A few silvery fish swam by. They were so small and curious.

About twenty-five minutes into our journey, I accidentally ducked my head too far under water causing trouble with my mouth tube. The gurgling sound alarmed me and I realized I was about to inhale some water. I had to stop swimming and empty the tube out. How was I going to do this while floating simultaneously? The idea worried me. I always struggled juggling two things at one time. I bounced to the top and got on with this strange maneuver. Meanwhile, my friend swam ahead. She had no idea that I had stopped. In the midst of all this, I looked up to take stock of our distance. The island appeared so far away. How was that possible, I wondered, we had been non-stop swimming? It dawned on me that we had veered off with the current.

My heart beat quickened and I felt my body weight. I started to doggie paddle while desperately trying to get my mask back down over my face. Regrettably, the inside of the goggles had steamed up and the mouth piece was still burbling. That’s when I lost it and began to go under. More water poured inside my equipment so when I opened my eyes and tried to breathe, it became agonizing. I was really panicking now. I realized I could drown right there. They’d find my swollen body floating in the great in-between.

The water was relentless. The silver fish, adorable just a minute ago, looked like piranhas. To my left a monstrous coral reef. I had to do something quick. I finally yanked off the mouth piece and goggles and tossed them into the water and now free, I swam my way to the top and gasped for air.

Thankfully my friend was nearby. She had seen me lag behind and had come back to fetch me. Both our heads were bobbing in the water, my eyes red and my breathing heavy.

“You alright?” She called out.

“No,” I stammered. “I can’t make it.”

“Try to relax. You can make it. Where’s your gear?”

“I tossed it. I was getting an anxiety attack. I can’t breathe with it on.”

She turned and looked at the island. “We’re not that far,” she said but looked worried.

“I think I’ll just swim now. I’m good at that.”

“Alright. I’ll stay close. Let me know if you need me.”

Screen Shot 2020-06-22 at 3.00.45 PMSuddenly, I remembered that I was a pretty good swimmer. In fact, I was awesome at the back stroke. I felt a burst of energy and began to move quickly. I flipped over on my back and within seconds, I felt my body glide ahead at a vigorous speed. My arms moved effortlessly through the water like oars. The strength returned to my legs. I didn’t stop and I didn’t think— I just sped through the water straight.

After some time, I turned over and slowed down to look where I was. The island was just a few meters away. I swam until I hit land. When I stepped out of the water, I looked for my friend who was close behind. I couldn’t believe we had made it. We fell hard onto the white, sandy beach and looked up at the sky. Then, we laughed.

“You scared the shit out of me,” my friend said.

“Me too,” I said, shaking my head. “I don’t know what happened. I just freaked out. I couldn’t breathe. That stupid snorkeling equipment just wasn’t working for me.”

“Well, you didn’t need it. You were amazing once you let go and relied on your back stroke.”

 

The Excruciating Present

Even those of us who practice meditation and a contemplative way of life are struggling in this crisis. In this moment of social isolation, we confront ourselves and our immortality.

We are slowly realizing that there is no future as we know it, future does not exist.

We are faced with the absolute now of our existence.

What is there to motivate or inspire if you have no future guaranteed? What drives your action each day when you have no idea what to expect tomorrow, nor do you really understand the events that led up to this moment?

In this moment of crisis, we are experiencing the impact of overlapping variables that are so beyond our comprehension and control. We can’t even see or take individual responsibility. Neither you nor I created this virus, did we? And yet, this thing is destroying our sense of security and the global economy. Are we or are we not conspirators in this calamity? This is phase one of letting go, the questioning of responsibility, thinking that what has occurred in past is ours alone.

But is everything that occurs in the past our fault? Do we have the capacity to see the past clearly and in its totality? The answer is no. The past, when you really think about it, is a vague memory with great unknowns. Think about memories and how we each perceive the same past differently.

So what is left? The present moment. There is no one past, there is no one future. Both are ephemeral and unknown. We may catch a glimpse of this or that, but mostly, we can only be fully aware of the present moment.

How painful this is, to let go of the past! To let go of tomorrow!

We are thinkers and planners and visionaries! I like to learn. I like to know! These things ground us, give us a place called home. We are learned and filled with ambition. We fuel each day with the past and keep our eyes on a vision. Isn’t that what modernization is all about? And our addiction to media and entertainment? Our insatiable drive for moving pictures and improvement?

And yet, look at us now, with our future stripped away. We face unexpected deaths and adjust to a strange reality.

What do we do with ourselves, moment to moment, day to day, if we know nothing? What is our new motivation? What do we have when we break apart and destroy every goal, every dream, every possibility and replace it with unknowns?

This is the excruciating pain of having to face the present moment. Of confronting the absolute meaninglessness of every thing, past and future, and sitting still in that one moment of truth.

Wondering, contemplating, deliberating, what to do, what to do? What to do with myself when nothing matters but now?

Managing Love and Sex While Isolated

In this post, I talk about love and sexual energy with a single woman in quarantine living in Madrid, one of the friendliest cities in the world now raging with the Corona virus.

Screen Shot 2020-03-28 at 12.11.20 PMSexual energy is an essential life force concentrated in two energy centers in our body, the Root Chakra and the Sacral Chakra. The root chakra is located in the base of the spine and it relates to our feelings about survival, security and stability. The sacral chakra located in our lower belly, relates to pleasure, emotions, intimacy and trust. Love and sex are influenced by a biological impulse to procreate plus our emotional need for intimacy. For this reason, managing love and sexual energy can be challenging when we are fearful and isolated.

I’ve been thinking a lot about how people are managing love relationships and sexual energy during the Corona virus crisis. If you’re married or in a live-in relationship, being forced to spend time together can be an opportunity or agony, depending on the nature of the relationship. If you’re single and living alone, coping with built up sexual energy and love relationships can be daunting. I wonder if it’s possible to transmute sexual energy into a higher chakra, for a deeper kind of love, a compassion for others or to enhance creativity or spirituality?

Ongoing obstruction or imbalance rooted in the sacral chakra can lead to problems such as addiction, perversion, depression or destructive behavior. For this reason, exploring our feelings about love and sex is vital to our overall well-being and sustainability.

This week, I interviewed a single woman living alone in Madrid to explore this topic.

What is the hardest thing about dealing with the Corona virus crisis while being single and female living in Madrid?

The hardest thing about dealing with the Corona virus while being single and female is that in Spain we are confined completely, everything is controlled. All social relationships have been drastically reduced, we are not able to go out at all, meet people in bars, be on the street even.

How did you socialize and meet men before the quarantine?

I’m very outgoing so it’s always been quite easy for me to get to know new people. I’ve met people while having a cup of coffee or while shopping. I’ve met people in unexpected places. I love dancing so that’s one way I meet people— at dance clubs. I’ve always felt confident about my physical appearance and being able to attract men but now in isolation, I find myself reflecting on my life and being single. I’ve also been thinking about my spiritual self more, rather than sex. I’m asking myself hard questions about what matters most to me in a man and I wonder is it possible to have it all? I mean, is it really possible to have sexual attraction and also be compatible spiritually and emotionally? I’m thinking I want the whole package.

Do you have a romantic interest currently? How are you managing this relationship?

I have a romantic interest and it’s not been easy because it’s just wishful thinking at the moment. There is nothing established between the two of us, we have had only a platonic relationship. We know each other through work and now in isolation, we keep in communication which helps me feel alive. Even before the crisis, I thought about him all the time. I don’t think I’m managing this isolation very well. I get anxious. I want to hug this man or just have a cup of coffee with him. I want to be with him face to face so we can look at each other and get lost in that moment. This is my heart’s desire. We have joked about sneaking out to be together. I believe we love each other although it’s not been declared. The more I get to know him, I think he has all the perfect ingredients. I feel passion and spiritual connection and now in isolation, I spend a lot of time imagining myself being intimate with him. These thoughts keep me hopeful for the future.

How has your style of communication changed?

I’d say I’m more intense. Some old loves, men I’ve had affairs with in the past, have suddenly reached out to me during the crisis and I find this interesting. I think we are being drawn to people to figure out what matters. I find I am more dependent on WhatsApp than before, and desperately waiting for this man who I am in love to respond. That can feel frantic.

How are you coping with your sexual energy?

At the moment, my sexual energy is off. Even though it’s spring, I don’t feel sexual desire, which is strange. I find myself channeling my sexual desire into thinking about real love, sincere and genuine love.  Like I said, I’ve been thinking about this one man. In my soul I feel he knows how I feel and I think he feels the same. For now, this feeling is strong enough and sufficient because we’re stuck in quarantine. I believe that in time, when this is over, there will be a sexual explosion in my life. As a single woman, living alone, there is no expectation for a physical relationship now, although when an old flame wrote to me, I felt the temptation to see him. I even agreed to meet with him at the supermarket, but then realized that it was too risky. He showed up at the entrance of my building and I looked out my balcony and saw him. Although it was flattering, I felt like I was disloyal to the man I am in love with.

What lessons are you learning during this crisis?

I want to make sure I live a life worth living. I want to be respectful of everything…respectful of people and the atmosphere. More importantly, now I know who really cares about me and who I want to keep in my life. I want to value these relationships and live in the present moment. I want to live even more intensely than before! When it comes to love and sex, I’m learning that it’s okay to cross barriers that may seem insurmountable for love.