While sitting inside for the last few weeks, everyone has had to go back to basics. People scrambled for food and necessities to hunker down, preparing for the worst. And then everything halted, waiting for something to happen.
It has been colder than normal, with snow last week. As I write this, I am able to sit out on my porch for the first time this Spring. I live outside of New York City. And we have been stuck at home for the last three weeks. Tomorrow it will be 40 degrees again and I will be stuck inside.
With the cold weather, I have barely seen the sun or neighbors. It has been rainy and cold. It is difficult to image what is going on during this crisis, since the problem is invisible and isolated inside hospitals and homes. I started imagining the world as a dark desolate place.
Then an image flashed in my mind – Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia. I’ve never cared for Gaudi’s architecture. The exterior of his buildings look like a child covered them with Play-do pizzas, or termites turned them into a nest. I hadn’t looked past the exteriors in books. Years ago, I finally visited the mostly finished Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. For those who have never seen the Sagrada Familia Cathedral, it looks like a magnificent church, covered by a termite nest.
But I learned, the inside is sublime. It has towering clean vaults, full of light and color.
It is symbolic of the outside world we are avoiding, and the sacred world we can build within us.
This is how it is for our daily lives versus the spiritual world. This is how it can be for our social distancing. The world outside may be a messy, unstructured termite nest right now. But our inner world can be full of light, color and deliberate purpose.
The human race has been preparing for this moment, longer than we have had hand sanitizer to hoard. Long before recorded history, we’ve planned for this. Look at all the world’s major religions and you see the process of purification to access the temple, and rules about social interaction and food preparations.
Every culture and religion has purification rituals. Ironically many of these purification rituals have become strictly symbolic, and not very sanitary. (List rituals- then list closings of temples and churches)The faithful cross anoint themselves with holy water upon entering a cathedral. Shinto followers wash their hands and face at fountains.
Hindus purify themselves in the Ganges River.
Muslims wash their hands, feet and face before prayer.
But currently churches removed the holy water from fonts. Communion from a community chalice is out. Washing one’s hands and face at a Shinto shrine is out. Washing in the Ganges was never sanitary. And as of the end March, we can’t even go to the temples and churches for solace. So what do we do?
We go back to the origin of these rituals. We need to follow those rituals more faithfully again in a secular setting. Now is the time to turn your home into that temple and make your actions sacred.
Here are a few tips in making it feel like a temple or luxury retreat.
Think about the role of clothing for both monastic and secular religious lives.
Wear a face mask when you go out, like you’d wear a cross or religious head covering. They provide some protect for you and others. More importantly it will help you avoid touching your face and will give a visual reminder to others to social distance.
If you have a needle and thread you can easily make this pattern with an old shirt or pillow case.
Turn your sweat suits or yoga pants into comfortable fitting temple garb. A surgeon discussed his regular ritual of returning home each day before this infection hit. He takes his shoes off at the door. He removes his clothes in his garage or a mud room. He’d immediately put the old clothes into a bag, or straight into the washing machine. Then he’d take a shower and puts on clean clothes. If you have the option, take a shower and your change clothes every time you return home.
Keep your inner sanctum purified. Wipe down your kitchen before food prep and at the end of each day. Use old t-shirts and washcloths for cleaning to save paper towels. Breathe.
Wipe down every item brought into your home from the outside world.
Do laundry daily. Use towels and sheets once if you have the option. Give all family members new towels every morning, especially face clothes and hand towels. Change sheets and pillow cases every day. It helps remove more contaminants and is relaxing. There is no better way to end each day then on fresh sheets.
If you have to go out, take a shower when you get home. Immediately put your clothes in the wash or hamper. Purify yourself. Relax.
Take a salt bath in the evening. Salt baths are known for relaxing muscles and clearing airways. Breathe.
Take a Break from the Secular World:
Simply your life. Reflect little you actually need in your life.
Clean out your email account(s). My four email accounts are one of the biggest causes of unnecessary stress and distraction. If you have a few hours to, block and unsubscribe to old newsletters and companies you no longer withs to see.
Light a candle and meditate on the flame. Here is a virtual candle for a quick meditation.
Take time to meditate. Monks or centuries have given up family and all secular life, to meditate in the wilderness. You have the opportunity to so this without worrying about losing your job. Many modern gurus are now doing mediation and yoga online.
Most importantly, hang in there and check in with your support system.
Photo credits: Pixabay