If you’re self-quarantining due to Covid-19, it’s likely that you’re suffering from two seemingly contradictory emotions: fear and boredom. The former is a perfectly normal response to a potentially deadly, unseen threat over which you seemingly have no control. The latter may seem inevitable when you’re stuck at home, either alone or with family or roommates. Even if you’re working from home, you have plenty of hours to kill. And even pleasant diversions like reading, binge-watching Netflix, surfing the internet, and playing video games can grow old pretty quickly.
One solution is to reframe your quarantine as a spiritual retreat. This will automatically shift your isolation from being a “must do” to a “get to do.” What a relief! After all, how often do you get the opportunity to focus on your spiritual practice for more than a few minutes each day?
Placing your attention on your religious or spiritual practice can help you to control your fear. An appropriate prayer or mantra for practitioners from any belief system is, “Replace my fear with faith.”
Here are six easy suggestions to help you design your spiritual retreat:
- If you don’t already have one, create a shrine or altar on the surface of any piece of furniture. This can be as simple or elaborate as you like and include statues or pictures of deities, flowers, candles, and small bowls for water and other offerings.
- Decide how much time you want to dedicate daily to your retreat. The length of time will necessarily depend on work and family obligations as well as your prior experience with prayer and/or meditation. For example, it may not be realistic for you to commit to meditating four hours a day if you’ve never meditated for more than 15 minutes before.
- Consider learning a new prayer or meditation technique. For instance, if you’re Buddhist and generally practice breathing meditation, try Metta (lovingkindness) meditation. Metta entails silently repeating wishes for yourself, someone you love, a neutral person, someone you dislike and, finally, all beings everywhere. Sample wishes include, “May you be happy,” “May you be well and free from chronic pain,” “May you know peace.”
- Now’s the perfect time to read spiritual books. Highlight passages that resonate with you. Take notes and write down questions to share with your spiritual teacher, minister, priest, or rabbi.
- Make sure that you won’t be disturbed while you’re on retreat. Turn off your cell phone and close the door so that housemates and pets won’t intrude.
- Even though you’re housebound, there’s no need for you to be totally isolated during your retreat. Many churches, synagogues, and meditation centers are offering live, online services and classes during this time. And you can keep in contact with like-minded practitioners virtually through email, texts and bulletin boards.
By utilizing your time during self-quarantine as a spiritual retreat, you will dramatically reduce boredom. You will hone spiritual tools and add new ones to your spiritual toolkit. And, most importantly, you will learn that you can, indeed, replace your fear with faith in the most difficult of times.
Buddha Groove’s Guru Series brings insight from experts across the fields of mindfulness, natural wellness, yoga, and meditation. This article features wisdom from licensed clinical social worker, Alisa Stamps.