On this episode of The Road Home, Ethan Nichtern offers some thoughts on working with anxiety and fear, and how we can continue practicing in the world as it is during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Practicing In The World As It Is
How can we continue practicing in the midst of this world in the grasp of a global pandemic? Ethan explores how we can look at our quarantine experiences as a kind of retreat on managing our relationships. He talks about how hard it can be to meditate at a time like this, and offers some tips for those who are not comfortable with a sitting meditation practice right now.
“If you had to really sum it up, meditation is not the practice of stopping your resistance, but it’s actually the practice of studying your resistance. So it’s okay if you’re having a lot of resistance either from within yourself or from external factors.” – Ethan Nichtern
Omid Safi reflects on how we can find refuge in love and practice during these difficult times on Sufi Heart Ep. 17
Invoking Your Spiritual Lineage (15:44)
For those who are able to do a formal sitting practice right now, Ethan suggests invoking your spiritual lineage at the start of the practice. He talks about how loving-kindness and compassion practices might be the most helpful in this time of heightened anxiety and grief, and how we need to act in simple yet specific ways right now.
“Compassion is empathy plus agency, it’s not just empathy.” – Ethan Nichtern
Check out Ethan’s Guided Meditation for Setting Intention in Uncertain Times and Guided Compassion Meditation for Anxiety
Resting in Uncertainty (30:30)
Ethan ends the show by exploring the three different ways people usually narrate an experience like this: extreme cynicism, oppressive cheerfulness, or the perspective of uncertainty. He talks about how we should try to rest in uncertainty and all the space it provides, and that not knowing might be our most optimistic outlook.
“Notice your cynicism. Notice those ways that you try to narrate this in a way that ignores or downplays human goodness and a sense of possibility.” – Ethan Nichtern