Rev. Elizabeth Rowley is an independent columnist for The Atascadero News and Paso Robles Press; you can email her at revelizabeth@cccsl.org.

Now that we have all grown accustomed to the life of sheltering at home, it’s time to change it up again! Isn’t that the way of things? So what have we learned about ourselves through this interesting time in our lives?

I’ve witnessed individuals undergo a complete transformation during the pandemic because they stayed home and had time to focus on and improve themselves. Then suddenly, after getting the second dose of the vaccination, they abandoned their transformation and returned to the old ways as if it were all but a dream.

It reminds me of taking up the spiritual practice of meditation. At first, there is conscious focus and intention on setting the time and space for dedicated practice. Next, there is the meditation practice itself. Then comes the advanced technique of taking it off the cushion, which means bringing your Zen wherever you are.

It’s easy to find peace on the cushion in your own home, in a space you have set up expressly for your meditation practice. It’s aesthetically pleasing with ambient lighting, tapestries, blankets, eye pillows, and the perfect cushion to keep you comfortable enough to forget your body but not so comfortable that you’ll fall asleep. Incense, images, textures, and the ideal temperature for your sweet serenity. Ahhhh. Or should I say ohhhhm?

Getting through this together, Atascadero

The spiritual rubber hits the road when you adventure away from your cushion and into the outer world where other people dwell, people with different upbringings, life experiences, opinions, and belief systems than your own. Maybe you encounter a difference in opinion with someone else, blow your top, and get angry and upset. At that moment, your accumulated meditation practice resets to zero, like a video game. Now you’re called to return to your meditation cushion to rebuild your internal space of peace, love, kindness, and generosity that you experienced and enjoyed before.

Perhaps you’ve abandoned your transformation and are feeling lost or disheartened. I encourage you to give yourself a break. Be gentle with yourself. You have endured so much, and quite honestly, you are crushing it. No need to add to the anxiety, stress, and uncertainty so many are feeling.

You came here to shine, thrive, and be glorious! What is one small change you can make today that would put you back on track with the promises made to yourself at the onset of the shelter in place orders? Chinese philosopher Lao-Tzu wrote, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”  Take that step. Start today, right where you are.

I appreciate what American essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson observed: “What lies behind us, and what lies before us are but tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” What lies within you is what I call the Divine. Lean into it. Let it guide you. It wants you to succeed. You are a mighty, magnificent force of which to be reckoned. Let’s do this!

And so it is.