Vivekananda Retreat Ridgely will remain closed to all visitors for the entire month of July. This is still because of the Covid-19 pandemic. If all goes well in NY we are looking at a very limited re-opening with HUGE restrictions some time in the month of July. We will let you know. Until then, please don’t visit us! We miss our usual summer rush, but this is the way of the world this year. We need to protect our staff and our visitors and, until we feel confident that this is possible, we will remain completely closed. We don’t see any organized retreats with visiting speakers happening in the near future because of space and gathering restrictions that will probably be in place all year.
There are some benefits to this time fraught with uncertainty and anxiety. One of them is the explosion of wonderful online teachings and talks as spiritual organizations have moved their presence to the internet. I suggest you check them out. In fact, I suggest that you limit your exposure to the news and, instead, listen/watch a talk or participate in a Zoom class.
We all know the problem with the news. We need to stay informed without going down the rabbithole into a worldview of endless disaster and unbelievably negative behaviors on display. We may think that this is the way we keep focused on the larger picture, but , if we really pay attention, we will find ourselves feeling totally enraged and disheartened. We will not find Oneness in the news.
As the pandemic drags on, we may find our spiritual life lying in shreds on the floor, as it were. All inspiration and motivation is lost and we feel numb. I would guess that this might be the experience of quite a few people, especially if you live in a place like New York City where the death toll and the horrible consequences of severe illness are all around you, sirens wailing through empty city streets. It is your relatives, your friends on those gurneys, in the morgue. And it just drags on and on…no job, no money , limited friendly contact……Remember, everyone is experiencing some form of anxiety. Remember you are not alone. These are not normal times.
When our spiritual life is hanging in the balance there are a few things we can adjust. One is to find a friend of like mind and talk/study together. Another is to look for a fresh view of your spiritual life. That’s where all the online classes come in handy. Try a new approach with an open mind. If you have been devotionally oriented, listen to a different teacher or challenge yourself to listen to an Advaitic talk or a devotional teaching from another tradition. Break down some barriers in your mind. And visa versa-if you consider yourself an Advaitin, try some devotional practices. “Chant the name of the Lord and His glories unceasingly”.
Many teachers have recommended spiritualizing an activity you love. When the usual practices seem useless and uninspiring, your love for this activity will keep you going. Do you love walking in nature, music, painting, working on cars? Collecting stamps? Writing? Building things? Gardening? Make that into a spiritual practice. You will know how to do it. As Swami Vivekananda said, “Your religion is between you and your God.”
And, above all, stay connected, stay on the Blessing Bandwidth, keep reaching out and doing the next right thing.