This column is part of a series of reflections from Broadview staff about the coronavirus pandemic.
This past January, two of my dearest friends and I finally decided on where to take our ultimate immersive three-week yoga retreat. It’s almost comical in hindsight to divulge our chosen destination: the lovely and remote, well-recommended resort of Suryalila in southern Spain. We landed at our oasis, where we hoped to have a peaceful mind-body experience, on March 7. After the second day, I had melted into a puddle of complete relaxation — almost a constant state of savasana, for anyone who practices yoga.
I couldn’t have imagined how beautiful this place would be, with a garden that supplied us with vegetarian food and stunning views of silent, spectacular sunsets. In hindsight, we were almost too much in a bubble. We didn’t know, nor did Vidya, resort owner and yoga guru extraordinaire, that Spain was about to explode with one of Europe’s worst coronavirus outbreaks.
Within a week of our arrival, we knew we had to get home, and fast, or risk being locked down for perhaps months. It wasn’t easy to pull ourselves out of a fog of zen. We had ignored those odd, urgent messages from family telling us to “get the heck outta there, sister!” Can I admit that I secretly imagined a little about not being able to get out in time? Obviously too much of a good thing can be life threatening.
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Making my way out of Spain wasn’t easy. I felt like Moses with the Red Sea closing in. Getting home consisted of several last-minute cancelled flights, trains, subways, taxis and begging for directions while maintaining a six-foot distance. I had a pair of white, pristine-looking gloves to wear for some level of benign safety. And not only safety, surely all of Heathrow would consider me well-mannered and help me! (Please note that at the time I was in a bizarre, sleep-deprived state.)
As I write this, it’s now day eight of isolation in Canada. I can’t complain, as I am fortunate to be up at my cottage that is so isolated and peaceful, though I’m surprised by the number of through-the-window visits from neighbours. I’m feeling Zen now, but I’ll admit that my first few days were filled with worry that what’s left of my life plans were going to be over. Everything seemed dark and dismal. My investments plummeted, and routine as we knew it had seemingly come to an end. I had just spent considerable money on emergency exit flights, hotels, plus three non-refundable weeks of yoga retreat costs. I felt so sorry for myself.
Thank God I was alone. Forced isolation has its advantages — you’re not exposing others to your worst self. I had to gain control. There was no good coming from this incredibly negative, self-absorbing rabbit hole I was being sucked into. I pulled myself up and out with dirt in my fingernails. Wiping my brow and dusting off my sweatpants, I remembered a prayer that was recited before and after silent mediation in Suryalila. I loved this prayer and its universal spiritual message. I know this stuff! It’s always been my anchor … that and the odd glass of chardonnay at sunset on Lake Huron with friends, family and my beloved yoga.
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