• Andrew Singer

Breathing During a Time of Change




Qigong. I have been a neglectful student the past few months. I didn’t make classes for many weeks before the quarantine and now there are no classes. I woke up stiff this morning and decided I needed to practice. My routine includes slow breathing and deep stretching. My teacher’s words are in my head as I begin the lengthy warm up leading into the exercises themselves. I was able to really slow myself down this morning in my den with the morning sun flowing obliquely in the front windows of my house. I got to thinking about time. I know, I know. I am supposed to empty my mind during practice, to concentrate on my breathing and the qi energy that is in and around my body, and for me, this morning my mind was fairly empty, but not completely.

Time. There is never enough. It flies by too quickly. Where did the time go? If only I had more time. Don’t take time for granted. Time will tell.

In this age of Covid-19, I have read statements that the world is taking a breather. From travel. From industry. From activity. It is a time of reflection, of change, which is a benign word for disruption. This world-wide pause has led to clearing skies over China, Italy, and India. I saw a photograph the other day taken from a northern Indian town in which the mighty, snow-capped Himalayas were visible in bright sunshine more than 200 kilometers away for the first time in long memory. The earth apparently has a remarkable way of healing itself when human intervention takes a holiday. Will it be only temporary?

There is enormous, generation-level upheaval taking place in families around the globe. No work, remote work, staggered work. Stay at home, kids studying (or attempting to) in their bedrooms and living rooms, husbands and wives spending inordinate amount of time with each other and their children. One day bleeding into the next. What day of the week is it anyway? Stress, anxiety, togetherness, sharing. To borrow from the corporate and nonprofit world, we are all living out a gigantic SWOT analysis. We are faced with examining (whether we want to or not) our Strengths and Weaknesses. The Threats seem obvious. The question is what are and what will we make of the Opportunities.

When we look back on this time of disruption, this time of pause, what will the historians conclude? What decisions will we have made, individually, nationally, globally? What actions will we have decided to take? Opportunities can be as scary as threats. They can both be exciting and hopeful as well. Time will tell. I hope we choose wisely.




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ANDREW SINGER

Author based on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. In his memoir, China Sings to Me, he explores a nation in the midst of seismic growing pains, and finds the courage to live his own life without boundaries.