For nearly two and one half years, the dread of COVID had not been far removed from my thoughts, constantly wondering if I or someone I care about would come down with it. Vigilance and protective measures were the norm for me; I even felt a brief period of resilience because I hadn’t gotten it yet when everyone around me had already had it.
Then, it happened—the onset of fatigue, a little queasy feeling in my belly, then the full
onslaught of fever, chills, body aches, cough, sore throat, and not even a speck of energy.
After two negative COVID tests, I presumed it was the flu. The third morning confirmed
what I didn’t want to know—that I had tested positive for COVID.
As much as I had tried to “keep it away”, COVID settled itself deep into my body uninvited.
The body aches felt like I had done major physical work, when in fact, the opposite was
true. The fever was nonresponsive to fever reducing agents; the chills and subsequent
sweats would come out of nowhere, forcing me to wear clothes I normally reserve for the
winter---yanking them off one minute and grabbing to put them back on the next. The
cough was a different entity all by itself—leaving me wheezing and breathless from my
chest and my throat sore and raw. Indeed, this presence was fully embodied in me—a host
to this unforgiving parasite draining every ounce of energy from my being.
At first, I didn’t want to acknowledge that I had COVID. I didn’t want to be sick; didn’t have
time to be sick because I had ‘x, y, z, things’ to do. I hadn’t raised my hand to say ‘yes, I’ll
have some of that please’ because I didn’t want to be inconvenienced, behind, irresponsible,
or a whole list of other reasons why I didn’t need or have the time to be sick. The irony
here, in my opinion, is that I got sick because I was pushing through week after week of
extra demands, tasks, family medical situations, not resting well…… No matter how busy I
was, I couldn’t outrun the COVID intruder. I had been showing up for everyone else except
So there I was, laying on my couch, not having the endurance to do anything else except sit
with that awareness--- I hadn’t been showing up for myself. No matter how many times
I’ve spoken about the necessity of self-care, I hadn’t been following my own guidance. I had
a passing thought of ‘when it rains it pours’. Then I paused for a moment, not like I could
do anything else anyway, and reflected on another meaning of RAIN that I often share with
my clients. In that moment, something shifted for me, wherein I moved from place of
resistance to a place of acceptance.
You see, the RAIN model that I’m speaking about here invites a softness, a gentleness, a
nourishment which is in stark contrast to the ‘I don’t have time for this’ mentality I had
previously been showing up with. RAIN is a mindfulness model that invites a widening of
perspective; a softening of the heart; and an acceptance of what is in the moment. RAIN
invites self-compassion rather than judgment. RAIN is an easy to use tool for practicing
mindfulness and self-compassion in 4 steps:
R—Recognize what it happening in the moment
A—Allow the experience to be there, just as it is
I—Investigate with interest and care
N—Nurture or Nourish with compassion
When I recognized I was sick, and there wasn’t much I could do about it, I realized the
efforts to ‘control it’ were a moot point. Recognizing the only way toward restored health
was to rest, drink fluids, rest some more, and let go of other responsibilities so that I could
heal, I softened into the moment. Allowing the full throttle experience of COVID was an
approach that seemed counter-intuitive to me; however, I didn’t have much of a choice.
Allowing (and accepting) is not the same thing as agreement; it’s the approach ‘it is what it
is’ for now. In those moments of being held captive by my body aches and fever, I didn’t
have a choice---it was what it was for those moments and days.
I cannot name the exact time frame or moment when this awareness happened for me,
though I can say at some point, sitting in partnership with my thoughts that I became
curious about what I needed, what was the felt-sense of my illness in my body in that
moment. I investigated and was able to discern that I needed to rest, that I needed to be
still, that I didn’t need to worry about the house, the unanswered emails, or anything else. I
needed to be still and be present with myself. This awareness wasn’t met with harshness
or a judgmental attitude, rather a softness and compassion that it literally took me to ‘run
out of gas’ for me to give in to my need to rest and restore and replenish.
From this place of compassion, I nurtured myself with warm mugs of hot tea, ample
amounts of time resting, permission to let go. It was a quiet whisper, a gentle promise to
myself, a recommitment reminding myself that I do enough, and it’s okay to slow down for
So from these quiet moments, wrapped outwardly in the throes of illness; an inner
acknowledgment and commitment was rekindled. These are the gifts COVID offered for
me—the opportunity to once again reconnect with myself, honoring myself for showing up
on this journey. I also was reminded of the poem, The Guest House, by the Sufi poet Rumi.
Sometimes we cannot control who or what shows up at our door. We can practice the
simple approach of RAIN to navigate the visitor(s) with acceptance and self-compassion.
Jennifer Froyd, MA, LCMHC
(RAIN of self compassion: https://www.tarabrach.com/rain/)
The Guest House
Poem by: Jellaludin Rumi,
(translation by Coleman Barks)
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.