Begin Again

by Aug 20, 2020Journal0 comments

Greetings from Johannesburg where South Africa is now in Covid-19 Lockdown Level 2. Living Essence is permitted to re-open for guests and we will do so for individuals and small groups with all the physical distancing and hygiene protocols in place. We have plenty of sunshine and fresh air to go with this.

In January this year, we launched our new website and our hearts were full of potential and possibility. Our 2020 diary entries for client bookings and Mindfulness Retreats were so encouraging. We’d achieved Super Host status on our Urban Oasis AirBnB listing within our first year of opening and our soulful retreat space saw a number of our guests returning for their tranquil home-from-home stays. We received the most treasured reviews. We added a beautiful round stained-glass window to the Urban Oasis, refreshed the lounge, converted the garden shed into a meditation hut, and created a fire circle.

And then…

South Africa went into Lockdown Level 5 on 26 March 2020 and as the severity of the measures were announced, bookings were cancelled and my husband’s business activities came to a grinding halt. Fortunately, we were able to offer two families a safe haven at different times during lockdown, but all the other activities were suspended until this week. 144 days. We saw immense suffering in our neighbourhood and surrounds, and did our best to contribute and support feeding schemes. We took all the Covid-19 relief that was available to us and my husband threw himself into keeping up with the autumn, winter, and later the early spring gardening, and into significant maintenance jobs around the property. He’s a master-restorer. Thoughts of selling our home and giving up on the dream and intention for this place became a source of constant rumination as we went about our daily tasks.

I’ve faced my edges on countless days, and on others, I’ve soaked up the glorious winter sun in the back garden, trying to dissolve the fear, rage, disillusionment, and disappointment that ebbed and flowed. I’ve endured virtual fatigue from long days working online.

In other moments, I relished spending so much time in this beautiful space where I felt very held and nurtured. I’ve come to know every corner of this home and garden intimately. On these days the gratitude and awe swelled in my soul. In many ways, I enjoyed the simplicity of the days and new rhythm trying to find itself. Pema Chodron’s book, When Things Fall Apart, became my bedtime companion as I read certain chapters over and over again.

Things falling apart is a kind of testing and also a kind of healing. We think that the point is to pass the test or to overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don’t really get solved. They come together and fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It’s just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy.

I am deeply thankful for a mindfulness practice that sustains me in ways unfathomable. My practice is to befriend all the parts of me and our circumstances in this “full catastrophe living,” as Jon Kabat-Zinn says. As the day dawned on 17 August 2020 and we awoke with the adjusted lockdown regulations, I reached out to gently touch the glimmer of hope that began to build in me. Inhale. Exhale. And we begin again.

With love,

Li x


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