By John Sirabella
In response to this time of heightened anxiety and isolation due to the COVID–19 heath crisis, Tricycle: The Buddhist Review is offering free virtual meditations along with Q&A’s from some of our most beloved teachers, including Tara Brach, Joseph Goldstein, Jack Kornfield, Pema Chödrön, Sharon Salzberg, and Roshi Joan Halifax, and Koshin Paley Ellison.
To register for these ongoing live-stream sessions, please visit tricycle.org/live.
Many communities, holistic centers and sanghas are moving their communities online. As many of you know, the switch to virtual hasn’t been easy or without challenges for some. Wanting to be of service, Tricycle has put together an online meditation calendar—a (somewhat) comprehensive, frequently updated calendar of online sits, dharma talks, and other resources. You can view that calendar here. If you know of an online event or resource that is not included on their list, please email them at firstname.lastname@example.org and include “Online Meditation Calendar” in the subject line.
Tricycle is also making available for free a three-part video Dharma Talk series that offers guidance for facing our fears, including our fear of death, and caring for ourselves and others.
All of these free online resources remind us of what’s possible as holistic centers around the world continue to connect with their communities during these stressful and challenging times.
Carolyn Gregoire, Tricycle’s newsletter editor and coauthor of Wired to Create: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Creative Mind, said that we’re seeing a range of responses to stress surrounding the pandemic, such as “fight or flight,” which can lead to antisocial behavior and panic-buying.
“But there’s another response, too: a ‘tend and befriend’ response, which is thought to be more hard-wired in women, but can be exhibited in either sex. This leads us to nurture and care for others and to act altruistically, with the good of others and the collective in mind,” Gregoire said.
Now isn’t the time to take on big projects, according to Gregoire—instead try to pause and give yourself permission to move at a slower pace. Once the discomfort of being rather than doing wears off, she said, “the inner wellsprings of imagination, inspiration, and wisdom naturally spring forth from the deeper parts of our being.”
Gregoire also suggested working with “creative constraints,” saying that when we have less available, we are “forced to be much more creative.” A few ideas: cook with whatever is in your cupboards, learn how to play guitar through YouTube tutorials, or with the help of paid lessons such as these on MusicOomph.com, or learn a new skill for an hour each day. Each of us is being called to be creative in our own way.
Lauren Krauze, a writing professor and Tricycle contributor who lives in New York City, launched Read to Me earlier this month in direct response to the pandemic. Krauze said that during a difficult time in 2016, she had asked her close friends to send audio recordings of themselves reading a text they found meaningful.
“I got about two dozen recordings—book chapters, poems, articles, essays, and even recipes. When I found myself awake in the middle of the night, I would listen to these recordings and feel comforted. I still have the recordings today and listen to them regularly,” Krauze said.
These audio recordings inspired Krauze to launch Read to Me in mid-March. Those who sign up for this “one-to-one read aloud program” will receive a short audio recording of Krauze or another volunteer reading a short text and explaining what it means to them.
“I have always found that reading—and being read to—can be very soothing” and like a form of meditation, Krauze said.
“The Buddhist teaching I discover anew with every Read to Me exchange is just how profoundly interconnected we are, how much we have in common despite geographical barriers and cultural differences,” Krauze said. This program has also reminded me how interconnectedness can foster comfort and ease suffering in deeply uncertain times.