Dispatches from Quarantine
Updated: Sep 27, 2021
It started with a sore throat. Didn't think much about it. I was vaccinated. I thought I was coming down with a mild cold until I lost my sense of smell and taste. I went to get tested. A day prior to a flight to Montana to visit my nephew, I received a call from a nurse informing me that I had been diagnosed with COVID. I canceled my flight and changed my plans.
The mind was equanimous.
I meditate regularly on the 5 Remembrances:
I am of the nature to grow old; I cannot escape old age.
I am of the nature to get sick; I cannot escape sickness.
I am of the nature to die; I cannot escape death.
All that is dear to me and everyone I love are of the nature to change.
I inherit the results of my actions of body, speech, and mind.
Although I felt mild sadness around the loss of sense of smell and taste, the 5 Remembrances gave me comfort. The 5 Remembrances acknowledge the truth of human existence. This is far from New Aged thinking which posits we can attract illness or health by lowering or raising our vibrational frequency and by thinking it so.
My sister was diagnosed with COVID last year and never recovered her senses. I accepted that possibility. I am of the nature to get sick; I cannot escape sickness. All that is dear to me (cooking, eating well, scents, tastes, etc) are of the nature to change. I surrendered to the moment as is and as per my training. Daily we sit. We surrender to the meditation experience, accepting life as it is, not as we would like it to be- recognizing that all phenomena arise and pass away.
My daily practice of breathwork alerted me to the fact that I was not well. In one technique, I retain the breath for 5 minutes. In another, I expel carbon dioxide for 2 minutes or longer. While I had COVID, retention was 4 minutes. I could not get saturation levels up to 100% as I could before getting sick. Pulmonary capacity was compromised. But because of daily training, my baseline was high.
I am convinced that my daily regimen offered some immunity, but, with humility, I reminded myself of the body's nature to get sick- no matter how physically strong. "I cannot escape sickness." Had I gotten some viral infection before getting COVID, my immune system might have been sufficiently weakened such that my symptoms would have been far worse, no matter how healthy I might have been.
After acknowledging the sadness of loss- the loss of smell and taste, the loss of vitality and vigor- acceptance came easily. I used the opportunity of no-taste to eat fermented foods that are good for me but not good tasting. I used illness to cultivate more wisdom. I am of the nature to grow old; I cannot escape old age. With old age come losses. While many of these losses can be slowed, aging and age related declines are inevitable. Raising my vibration or channeling the "energy field" with New Aged secrets will not reverse the inevitable.
I am of the nature to die; I cannot escape death. A former neighbor did not recover from illness. Two days after my diagnosis, I learned that he had died from complications exploited by COVID. He will not return to us, we will go to him. We are of the nature to die; we cannot escape death. Even the healthiest among us cannot escape death. "There is no man that hath power over the spirit to retain the spirit; neither hath he power in the day of death. There is no discharge in that war." (Ecclesiastes 8:8)
The 5 Remembrances are sobering, but they train the mind and provide some inoculation against despair when old age, illness, death, or loss come. We can remain equanimous independent of circumstances. I recovered from COVID last week and wanted to share my notes- dispatches from quarantine. May they be of some benefit to you.