Going Solo – Creating Community Beyond COVID-19

Brenda Kay Neth

Seattle, Washington, March 12, 2020

We are the epicenter of the virus. School and college closures. Social distancing. Empty stores, churches, entertainment venues. Masks. Gloves. Furtive looks between bus riders. Walking on the side of the road to avoid contact with joggers, bicyclists. Wondering how long this will last. Drop in coffee shops, Starbucks closes. Still going to work for the Parks and Recreation Department at the community centers. Everyone is afraid, asking questions.

Seattle, WA April 1st.2020

One of the centers where I was working is now a men’s shelter. That is where I work now. My first day I was tested for COVID-19 due to potential exposure from some of the clients. We all tested negative, even the clients. I found out today when I came into work. I am still afraid. I have been sleeping a lot lately. It is exhausting to go outside and zig zag around people walking on the streets. We aren’t supposed to go anywhere but the grocery store and the doctor’s clinic. I grimace as I see people walking toward me, though my heart cries out in compassion and care. I am determined not to get sick. I work at a shelter; I am considered an essential worker. I take my prayers of light to the men in the shelter without even looking at them. I want my world back. I am sad. I miss my world before COVID-19. I miss seeing my elderly neighbor. We can’t have coffee because I might be a carrier. I see no one on my way out of my apartment building. I have no internet and am ashamed to complain about it. I have never felt more blessed, more humbled, and more determined. I worry about the animals at the zoo, and whether they will blame and harm bats for this. I am scared.

I took a break and rode to the beach yesterday. I climbed down the steep hill off the last stop and took dog biscuits in my vinyl gloved hands. I went straight to the dog park and fed all the dogs a biscuit.
“We’re safe here. We’re all six feet apart.” My voice feels strong and clear. I love the dogs and their owners. I feel sane, alive in the bright sunshine and covering of the fir trees by the park. Across the way the sand is calling, and the waves of the Pacific Ocean. I walk the beach distanced from everyone and feel God’s hand, the wind, on my shoulders and face. I am going to be alright. A seagull is looking at me. Some crows peck off among the marsh. I throw sunflower seeds to them from my red bag. Do they understand us? I felt strong and alive on the beach.

Suggested Read: Coping with crisis through heartfulness meditation

My footprints were the only ones left in the sand when I came back, my coat pockets full of brilliant light and white shells, crumbled by the ocean into the shapes of a heart and wings. I listen to the music of the shells and remember my sister, a CEO for a mental health agency facing crisis in Ohio. I will bring the Light and mail her the shells. They will comfort her as she has comforted me with her precious gifts of handmade jewelry. My parents have to stay inside their apartment, having everything delivered to the retirement home where they live. They are safe so far in Ohio. I will write to them about the dogs at the beach. It was ‘essential business’ for me to find the beach today.

Seattle, WA April 11, 2020

At work at the shelter. Planting a garden in my mind. Literally. Pollinator flowers, seeding for the flowers, hummingbirds, bees. I feel the summer sun on my back as I face the front yard enjoying poppies, salvia, and bachelor buttons. I feel myself alive,
remembering my essential gift of breath, breathing. We will get the seeds, my friend and I, driving through empty streets, to get to the greenhouse. You have to make a reservation to shop there. We find seeds that we hope will bring our neighbors some joy. Nature has not forsaken me, nor my family. In my imagination, I see the seeds of the flowers blooming before they are planted; I remember fields of bachelor buttons, Indian paintbrush, and dandelions from my rural childhood. I am breathing a Reality. In my hopes and in my memories.

The Way of the Heart

Before the virus hit, I was gifted a slim book called ‘The Way of the Heart’ which explains a simple set of Heartfulness practices. I am using the detoxification exercises daily, because they increase my awareness of hope and courage during these challenging times. I am also using imagery given to me by my local trainer on how to leave the environment around me with a healing force, rather than negativity.

Also Read: Meditation – A budget free retreat

There are two very effective methods in the book that I want to share with you which help to remove the root cause of fear: Guided Limb Cleaning to help detox fear of the environment and of places, and Seeding Positive Thoughts, which deals with fear of others, and surprisingly, fear of oneself!
Guided Limb Cleaning

  • Imagine the divine current flowing from above you.
  • Draw the current down to your heart.
  • Now let this current move towards your left shoulder, then let it descend down your arm to your biceps, your elbow, your wrist, your hand and then flow out through the fingertips of your left hand.
  • While this flow is going on, think that heaviness, complexities, impurities and fears are going out of your system along with the flow.
  • Continue this process for 2 – 3 minutes, then gently taper the flow.
  • Now again let the divine current be drawn down from above your head to your heart, and let it continue down through your left lower torso, through your left thigh and knee down to your left foot and out through the toes of your left foot.
  • While this flow is going on, think that heaviness, complexities, impurities and fears are going out of your system along with the flow.
  • Continue this process for 2 – 3 minutes, then gently taper the flow.
  • Bring your attention once again above your head, and allow the current to flow down to your heart. From the heart divert it to your right shoulder and down your right arm all the way to your fingertips. It should be a very gently process. Continue this process for 2 – 3 minutes and then gently taper the process.
  • Then do the same thing on the right side from above your head to your heart, and then down through your torso and down your right leg to your right foot.
  • When this energy is flowing out through the toes of your right foot, be sure to remove any heaviness from the right big toe.
  • Repeat the whole process one more time if you feel that there is still fear or heaviness in your system.
  • At the end, with confidence, affirm that you are completely cleaned of all fears and complexities, and that purity and simplicity are restored.

I found this particularly effective after meditation and before I left the house to go to work.

The second method is to be used when you fear someone. I have trouble sometimes being very judgmental and fearful of others, especially now when I am out of my apartment. I also experience challenges with neighbors and am using this to guide my attitude toward love and healing.
Seeding Positive Thoughts

  • Sit comfortably and close your eyes.
  • Imagine the form of the person in front of you.
  • Have the thought that, “This person is my friend and well-wisher.”
  • Think that all negative thoughts the person has about you are going, and thoughts related to your welfare have been infused in them instead.
  • Whenever you have the opportunity to go near the person, gently and subtly pay attention very indirectly to their face, without staring.
  • When you breathe out, have the thought that particles of your love and affection are entering their heart.
  • When you breathe in, have the thought that you are pulling all the negative thoughts they have about you from their hearts and throwing them aside.
  • Initially this task my seem difficult and you may feel resistance, but if you are courageous it will become easy as you practice it.

Keep going with this exercise, and you will find some surprises. I am even putting my own form in front of me and saying, “This is your friend and well-wisher,” since I can be my own worst enemy. I do the breathing exercises like I would with someone else, and then at some point I will look into the mirror to see if I notice more self-compassion. We all need self-compassion and love during these difficult times. I even think this exercise will be helpful as I am riding the bus to work, breathing slowly in and out, and carefully looking at others. This breaks down the isolation, and I can see us all traveling safely to where we need to go, friends and well- wishers for each other’s mental and physical health.

Also Read: Finding peace with heartfulness meditation
Leaving Behind Positivity

The last exercise I would like to share with you leaves perhaps the most profound and innocent image. During a session with my local trainer, she shared a delightful image that brings me relief from regret and engages me in leaving behind positive energy wherever I go, whether I spoke aloud to anyone or not. She explained that she imagined herself as a little girl who was running with brightly colored streamers behind her, doing her ‘work’ even if she had made a mistake in an interaction and wanted to change it. She was that little girl with the streamers, leaving behind the positive, correcting what was already done and bringing love and brightness in her place. I struggle with my temper, and sometimes even apologies don’t feel enough. So, I am using these methods, to ease my stress and bring love into my own heart and into the hearts of others. In this way, I am healing both myself and my communities, using breath, the power of thought, and imagery to create a universal healing flow.


Namaste and Good Health
Brenda Kay Neth