Is Anyone Else Feeling Like a Prisoner?

Back in April, when the pandemic and Shelter-in-Place was first upon us, a friend of mine said he felt like a prisoner.

Having spent eight years leading trainings in a maximum security prison, I reminded my friend—not without compassion for his frustration—that he still had the freedom to take a walk on the beach, order takeout from his favorite restaurant, and make love to his wife whenever he wanted.  Without too much smugness, I hope, I suggested that he could focus on what he didn’t have and couldn’t do (increasing his suffering) or he could focus his energy toward gratitude for all the freedom and abundance he did have.

Six months later, and after 7 weeks stuck inside because of all the smoke from California wildfires, I admit, I’m starting to feel like I’m a prisoner.  A prisoner of the Covid-19 pandemic; a prisoner of accelerating climate change and worsening wildfires; a prisoner of the toxic political atmosphere; and a prisoner of the hopelessness of my current perspective.

Here in Santa Cruz, living just outside the evacuation zone, I am grateful that my house didn’t burn down, and my heart aches for all my friends and acquaintances who were not so fortunate.  Lots of people have it much worse than I do, facing economic uncertainty, homelessness, and racial injustice on top of all that I’m struggling with.

Nevertheless, carrying my personal prisoner metaphor a little farther, I feel like I’ve got about 30 days until my parole hearing — AKA the election. And while I feel somewhat hopeful that things will go my way and I will be released in January, at the moment I feel powerless and afraid. 

Ironically, after writing that last line, the heaviness that paralyzed me for this entire day has mostly lifted.  (Clearly this speaks to the power of journal writing and coming present to create the conditions for transformation!)

And with that lighter perspective, I find myself contemplating a different metaphor, that of a monk in a monastery.  Like the monk, I am free to leave, but here I am, choosing to stay inside in my “cell” to avoid smoke, choosing to wear a mask when I go out in public, like a monk who chooses self-sacrifice for a purpose greater than himself.

The opportunity (dare I say, necessity?) in this crisis is to embrace my inner monk and commit even more fully to the cultivation of my connection to spirit, to my meditation and breath practices, to reaching out with love to my people however that remains possible, to cultivating my feelings of universal oneness in the face of separation and fear. 

This too shall pass.

Today, I invite you to watch my short video on how to expand your energy body to bring more possibility, joy and ease.