Lockdown Journal

Dayanandi's Portable Shrine

Dayanandi records her experiences of settling into lockdown

She writes from her home in a Buddhist women’s community in Salford

Thursday 26th March

This is lockdown day 3. And day 5 of bright sunny weather! What a strange time it is. How quiet. How peaceful it is here, in a way.

It’s been a time of walks to the moor and nature reserve, always a bit on edge in case others aren’t bothering with social distancing and step over the boundaries. Early morning is best! One walk around 9 am was full of freshness, quiet and sunshine, walking down through a path into the woods of the nature reserve. So quiet except for the birds. Newly opening bluebells, the bright lime green of freshly unfurling leaves.

It’s been a time of spacious coffee breaks out in the garden or by the lounge window, watching the birds, and the spring leaves and flowers opening. The birds seem so much more plentiful somehow, and their song so much louder and fuller! I think they’ve been more confident. And I’m sure there have been more bees than usual! It’s been lovely to see them all – and the blossom has been plentiful for them this year.

It’s also been a time when I have felt in a protected bubble here . . .Safe in our house, secluded in our beautiful garden, away from the virus . . . Yet knowing that tragedy is happening elsewhere, in the hospitals and care homes. Sometimes I am not able to remember, or to take in the scale of it, the enormity . . .

This morning I listened to Amoghalila coughing and had a moment of worry. How quickly things could change, how quickly we too could be in an emergency situation, wondering how to get food, where to put someone who has Covid, how to look after them. But no, Amoghalila doesn’t feel ill and it’s not a consistent cough. In fact she’s not coughing any more now. A reprieve.

In the Community we’re not used to all of us being around all day the whole week! Some of us are definitely missing the days when we had the house to ourselves! It’s quite intense and I have to confess to some irritation at times. Over and over I see myself subtly or more grossly wanting what I want, when I want it. I want to go and make a cup of tea without having to wait for someone else to use the kettle or sink. Oh dear! It’s embarrassingly childish.

It’s a new way of being together and actually we are remarkably harmonious on the whole, helped by making sure we check in with each other more so that anxieties don’t spill out unconsciously.

Last week I experienced anxiety a lot, felt bombarded by Zoom and phone meetings, re-arranged at short notice . . . Jarring. Zoom is great but somehow leaves me feeling drained. It’s lovely to see everyone and it’s reasonably good for discussion but afterwards I feel disconnected and drained and don’t recover before the next call. It’s a bit odd.

Perhaps, below it all there is an angst, a sadness, an emptiness. A sense of rattling around here with everyone in their own worlds. There’s no doubt it’s a strong existential situation for us all in different ways. We are all trying to cope in our own ways and I can sometimes feel invisible. A feeling of not being seen. That invisible feeling I had from childhood. What goes with it is feeling unloved, and isolated. Which is so much what I experienced as a child. These conditions seem to be bringing up those childhood memories.

This experience is surprisingly strong. It does feel like being on retreat in some ways; myself and my mental states reflected back to me very strongly and directly! Perhaps it’s the consistency, day after day much the same, the simplicity of not going anywhere, just staying put.

Bhante’s phrase comes to mind – “simplicity conduces to depth“. That sums it up.

Monday 20th April

A month has gone. Time is flying by in this timeless state of lockdown. The weather has a timeless quality too, it’s dry, mostly bright sunshine and clear deep blue skies every day, although there are cloudy days. It’s strange this weather, that it seems to be mirroring our stasis, we can’t move and neither does the weather.

Like many a day, I’m sitting on my red sofa, which used to be Vidyamala’s, with the sunshine streaming into the room and warming my feet! I’m looking out my window through a wall of orange tulips which are waving in a breeze, their petals illuminated by the sun, which seems to be shining through them. Stunning! On my windowsill, my shrine, a row of small rupas with Manjugosha at the centre and some of my pots either side, planted with succulents.

On the small table beside me, a travelling shrine that made on an online day with Taravandana in the early part of the lockdown. We were led in a visualisation to “find” our boxes, in our mind’s eye, and to open them – and mine just shone forth with white light, nothing else . . . So I made a very simple box – it consists of a white lotus made of tissue paper and an image of the blue sky . . . It opens my heart when I see it. I have it open right now and the beauty and purity of it touch my heart.

If someone said, “the lockdown is stopping now – it’s all back to normal tomorrow” I’d be disappointed. I don’t feel ready to go back . . . It’s as though there is yet more. It is a precious time and I feel I want to make the most of it. It’s an opportunity for me, for us all, to see something important, and I don’t know what that might be . . .

Manchester Buddhist Centre
16-20 Turner Street
Northern Quarter, M4 1DZ
0161 834 9232


 

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