We’re All Monastics Now

We might be stuck at home, but that doesn't mean we can't grow
January 25, 2021 Updated: January 25, 2021

My Zen teacher Susan recently told a group of her students at the end of a Zen meditation retreat, “We’re all monastics now.”

In this pandemic, we’re in an era of isolation, retreat. We’re also in an era of heightened uncertainty.

This can be a terrible thing and drive us to loneliness and distraction—or it can be a time of practice, reflection, and deepening.

We can choose to see ourselves as monks deepening into the stillness of a monastery.

It’s our choice.

If you’re staying home these days, it can be a time of endless internet distractions, or you can open to the opportunity to use the beautiful solitude for meditation, reading, writing, contemplation, and journaling. It can be a time of practice.

If you’re feeling the anxiety of the moment, it can be a time of near breakdown and freneticism, or it can be a moment to slow down and be still. Practice mindfully with whatever feelings are coming up.

You can go to the latest memes and viral videos (which are fun!), or you can find a text and study it.

You can get caught up in frustration with how others are acting during this crisis, or you can practice opening in compassion, with compassion meditations.

This is a great opportunity to deepen into mindfulness and practice, to learn to face head-on the uncertainty and fears that arise in us, and to connect to the humanity going through this rather than disconnect from them.

We’re all monastics now—how will we use this time?

Leo Babauta is the author of six books, the writer of Zen Habits, a blog with over 2 million subscribers, and the creator of several online programs to help you master your habits. Visit ZenHabits.net