Covid-19 and Caves?

Today after watching and reading news on coronavirus for hours and feeling more and more anxious about the pandemic, I thought: when was the last time I felt complete peace in my body and mind? Not just a 5-minute relief or a fleeting sense of excitement, but a feeling of absolute happiness, stillness, and inner harmony. Was it this month? Last month? Last year? After a few minutes, I finally remembered.

It was in January, almost 4 months ago. It was in Mexico, Playa del Carmen. For the first time in my life, I did snorkeling. Not the shallow water snorkeling, but the deep and dark cave diving and snorkeling, where you cannot touch the bottom, when you cannot even see the toes of your own (or someone else’s) feet. Upon entering the cave, I distinctly remember the smell. It was not the typical smell of sunscreen, swimming pool, or a touristy beach. It was a new smell – a smell of something mysterious, fresh, and unknown.

My boyfriend saw the cave: how deep it was; how dark it was; how bottomless it seemed. And instantly refused to get in. But I could not resist the urge. I made the first step, took the first plunge, and found myself in another reality. The world I knew stopped existing. Colors changed. Sounds transformed. Feelings were exaggerated. Sensations – heightened. All the noise of everyday life – cars, people, mosquitoes, animals, my own buzzing thoughts – all was mute. Put on silent. All I heard was the sound of my own heart – excited and calm at the same time. All my worries and anxieties dissipated. I lost the sense of time and space. I was blown away by the beauty of the corals below my feet. There wasn’t even any fish there. Just the silent and magnificent corrals. And when the sun ray went through the water, it lit all the corals and, I swear, I felt like I had tears running down my cheeks (yes, it turns out you can cry underwater, too). It was surreal. I was in some very beautiful fantasy movie.

I did not want to get out. My poor boyfriend was waiting for hours near the cave, feeding mosquitoes, and I kept promising to him: “One more round, another minute, I swear.” And my head disappeared under the water for the next hour. When I finally got out of the water, the silly smile did not leave my face. I just could not help it. I was so peacefully content. It was addictive, this feeling of happiness. I could never forget it.

Now, living during the turbulent time of the coronovirus pandemic and not knowing what is going to happen, I wish – right now, at this very moment – I could go snorkeling and leave the outside world above the water. Will you take the plunge? Where is that cave that can save us all?

Hello, Fear

Are you familiar with this type of fear? Do you remember how it feels every time?

You wake up in the morning, and it is right there already. You think about it, and your palms become hot and sweaty. Your heart starts pounding like a hammer inside the body. Every beat resonates in your mind. Your stomach gets twisted like Twizzlers, and you don’t know how to untangle it. The face starts to itch. A bit of rash on the skin. You sweat. You feel your shirt gets wet and sticks to your chest and arms. The clothes become your second skin, but it does not help or protect you from the fear. Inhumane, animal fear. You cannot think rationally. You repeat word by word, phrase by phrase, and nothing seems to hang in your mind. It is empty, a canvas. Fear erases all the logical thoughts. Your brain knows only one thing: “I am scared!”

You move in a rush. Hustle, hustle, hustle. You know you need to stop to calm down, so you try meditation. Some good relaxation song to pause the racing mind. But all in vain: it agitates you even more. The quieter the song is, the more thoughts are on your noisy mind. The struggle goes on. You talk to someone instead: your friend, your mom, your boyfriend. They say wise, encouraging words, but nothing changes the fact. You are scared. Scared to death. You try to let the feeling go, like Sedona Method says. You acknowledge the fear, plunge into it, and embrace it. It does calm you for a minute, but then your mind escapes again. And you feel hopeless. Tortured a bit.

You finish your morning routine. Driving eases you for a moment. But once you enter the building, you start trembling again. Your guts shake inside. You step in the room. You see hundreds of eyes. You settle the table. The presentation is on. You open your mouth and say: “Well, hello, Fear. Here we are again, face to face.” And the Fear answers: “My pleasure. Enjoy your presentation. Until next time.”

And then it leaves, the fear of public speaking. Until the next time. And you don’t miss it all.