We’re All Monastics Now

By Leo Babauta

My Zen teacher Susan recently told a group of her students at the end of a Zen meditation retreat, “We’re all monastics now.”

In this global pandemic, we’re in an era of isolation, retreat. We’re also in an era of heightened uncertainty.

This can be a terrible thing, and drive us to loneliness and distraction … or it can be a time of practice, reflection, and deepening.

We can choose to see ourselves as monks deepening into the stillness of a monastery.

It’s our choice.

If you’re staying home these days, it can be a time of endless Internet distractions … or you can open to the opportunity to use the beautiful solitude for meditation, reading, writing, contemplation, journaling. It can be a time of practice.

If you’re feeling the anxiety of the moment, it can be a time of near breakdown and freneticism … or it can be a moment to slow down and be still. Practice mindfully with whatever feelings are coming up.

You can go to the latest memes and viral videos (which are fun!) … or you can find a text and study it.

You can get caught up in frustration with how others are acting during this crisis … or you can practice opening in compassion, with compassion meditations.

This is a great opportunity to deepen into mindfulness and practice, to learn to face head-on the uncertainty and fears that arise in us, and to connect to the humanity going through this rather than disconnect from them.

We’re all monastics now – how will we use this time?