Meditating on (and for) a Long Summer Ahead, Redux

Dr. Gregory Sazima (author of Practical Mindfulness) talks benefits of using mindfulness practices for re-engaging with the “new normal.”

Source: Pixabay, altered with Photomania

Source: Pixabay, altered with Photomania

KEY POINTS

  • Summer 2021 is a novel moment, with positive aspects of re-opening to attend to.
  • Rusty skills in “reading the room” can make the transition back to in-person interactions a challenge.
  • Meditation can help manage the re-engagement in personal reactions, social interactions, and their impact.

Summer 2021 continues to unfold … an unprecedented miasma of hope, fear, opportunity, and lingering threat. Like reverse-mortgage sellers, I can make sound arguments for jump-starting a meditation practice on either side of the OK!/Oh no! dialectic in the summer season before us:

  • OK! Summer 2021 will be a time of opportunity, of healing, and of a clear-minded approach to the challenges of a civil society literally and figuratively re-emerging into daylight and caring connection. There’s no better time to develop and utilize our own innate capacities in awareness than this one.
  • Oh no! Summer 2021 will be a time of residual viral uncertainty, persistent grievance, and a civil society literally and figuratively simmering in a dangerous tension between our shared humanity and a hunkered-down binary of opposing worldviews. There’s no better time to develop and utilize our own innate capacities in awareness than this one.

I covered the “Oh no!” side of the binary in my last post. In this follow-up, let me approach the “OK!” optimistic stuff around some hopeful ideas and mindful tactics.

The slow opening of society and easing toward a semblance of “normal” daily life is, at least in theory, an inviting prospect. The novel immediacy of personal, mostly maskless contacts may seem trivial, but can be a blast of joy for many of us limited recently to Hollywood Squares-style Zoom meetings and futzing over the mute button in lieu of a spontaneous verbal show of affection. Meditation practices are useful in taking a full breath in (literally, figuratively) of this return of real human connection. Gratitude can emerge, as can healthy grief for the losses that have occurred in the last, ghastly 18 months. Sitting with “How am I, in this new ecosystem?” can help it settle in.

Yet, landing that plane in calm weather, into a reclaiming for ourselves a less risk-driven daily life, can still feel threatening, even foolish. The sheer length and intensity of the COVID era, not yet fully resolved in fact, has left many of us stumbling out of the metaphoric cave into the light. Rusty skills in “reading the room” can make the transition back to personal, face-to-face social interaction a little bit of a learning curve. Meditating helps diagnostically, as a way of observing and re-adapting to the re-opening. Through our own observation, we get reacquainted with our blind spots and vulnerabilities.

Lastly, the opening-up includes possibilities for more potent tension, especially in our current political and social strife. Let me suggest watching for the opportunity for a “meta” move: stepping back to a shared examination, even mutual awareness, of the deep divide with one another. “Wow, we each think the other is out of their freakin’ gourd when it comes to [name of candidate/position]! Isn’t that something? Yet still friends!” may be a highly ironic common ground of bonding, but it beats F-bombs and can’t-take-back proclamations of comparative superiority and folly.

That opportunity-watching is buoyed by improved self-awareness, cultivated by meditation and other mindful practices. Finding a lane in which to sustain a bond through and despite the deep divisiveness is an act of grace.

Here comes summer. OK!

References

Sazima MD, G.(2021) Practical Mindfulness: A Physician’s No-Nonsense Guide to Meditation for Beginners. Miami, FL: Mango Publishing


Practical Mindfulness

A Physician’s No-Nonsense Guide to Meditation for Beginners

Training exercises that work. Practical Mindfulness approaches mindfulness and meditation from a hands-on, how-to, irreverent perspective–appealing directly to smart readers curious about meditation. By applying Dr. Sazima’s training routines, learn to spend more time in real engagement with the world. Cultivate a deeper appreciation of experiences, from the everyday to the extraordinary, and live your life more fully, wisely, and joyfully.