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  • Writer's pictureLinda Preston

Still in the Incubator...Is This A Cacoon?

Updated: Jul 17, 2020

Some of you have heard me refer to this pandemic time as a spiritual Incubator. A couple weeks ago I heard a friend say that some people call this cocooning. I like that idea, being snuggled into a safe, cozy, silky container for a metamorphosis. When I looked at the many references on this topic, I found:

The caterpillar, after gorging itself, and stops growing, weaves the silky cocoon. It does this with special salivary glands near the mouth, while hanging upside down by its last two legs for winter hibernation, and in a non-feeding state, transforms not only from a caterpillar to a pupa, but from a pupa into a butterfly. (Two stages of change) The tissues, legs and organs all go through a major transformation, and in the end, it pumps fluids into its wings by contracting its thorax. Wow. That is a tough act to follow. I know that some of us are gorging ourselves, but how many of us created this cocoon with our own salivary glands? Actually none of us, unless you are a butterfly! Yes, this experience of sheltering in place is our choice, but made to create safety via strong guidelines from our scientific experts. And to assume a non-feeding state??? How many of us are fasting right now? Hanging upside down? yoga positions? Inversion boots? I have been eating, and yes, baking, as it gives me pleasure and I enjoy the comfort of comfort food. Not in a non-feeding state or stopped growing, I fear! Snuggling into my safe, cozy, and sometimes silky home, with my computer, home projects, and my partner is a yes, too. Not as active as I was, and somehow this new experience has me slow on the uptake on that.... (Hibernating, that's right! That is what I am doing!) there is much work that needs to be done in the cocoon, for me. I do settle into my meditation practice, contract my thorax, ( connect with my breath), and find stillness. But otherwise, my stages of cocooning are a little askew, when it comes to the model set by the butterfly. But everyday, the spiritual incubator shows me new ways I am seeing spiritual teachings:. Mindfulness, Not only must we be self-aware, but aware of others and their actions for all of our safety. We are acutely aware of the space around us, whether it is clean or infected with viral germs, needs to be avoided or disinfected.... We are stretching ourselves to live by new rules. Feel the process? Many feel it is exhausting, a sure sign there is change taking place internally. Buddhist Lessons of Impermanence. "It is only when we believe things to be permanent that we shut off the possibility of learning from change." Sogyal Rinpoche Many of us are reflecting on the things we took for granted or have lost since this time of lock-down has begun. Things may be different forever from COVID-19. Like it or not, we all must embrace some form of change from this. Maranasati, Mindfulness of Death. This Buddhist practice is meditation on and contemplation of ones own imminent death. "When we accept death, transform our attitude toward life, and discover the fundamental connection between life and death, a dramatic possibility for healing can occur." Sogyal Rinpoche Many people are grappling with this, as they face a potentially fatal virus that is infecting our population. Many have lost loved ones, are high risk, themselves, or simply see the vast numbers who have died to this point. Putting our affairs in order, making arrangements for our pets, should we die, and being present with our own imminent death is a practice some of us are being thrust into. Watching the Breath. If you find yourself in a spiritual incubator and don't know what to do, remember these words from Thich Nhat Hanh: "Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. conscious breathing is my anchor." Just sitting in meditation and watching our breath can help alleviate some anxiety and worry. Who knows, maybe we will pump fluid into our new wings, like the butterfly contracting it's thorax! I believe we acquire wings of a sort when we learn and practice meditation. Perhaps you may ask yourselves these questions: Am I in the cocoon? How well am I cocooning right now? After all, we have all been here the wormb, or swaddled as an infant. Am I able to embrace change? Am I working with spiritual teachings?

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