Coronavirus, Compassion, and the Still Water Community

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Dear Still Water Friends,

 Breathing in calm.
Breathing out compassion.

We are living through a time of exceptional uncertainty and fear. No one knows how quickly or how widely the coronavirus will spread. Eric Donaldson, a Still Water practitioner and a virologist working on coronavirus issues at the Food and Drug Administration, recently summarized the current situation in an email:

Given that this is a novel virus, the whole population is susceptible all at the same time which allows it to infect so many. The main goal of public health measures is to try to flatten the peak of cases so that local health agencies are not overwhelmed.

One of the most critical of the public health measures is drastically reducing the number of social contacts each of us have, especially in large groups. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on March 15th, “Everybody has to get involved in distancing themselves socially.”

Therefore, as an act of self-care and of compassion for others, all of our Still Water groups will temporarily suspend, will take place online, or, with regard to the gathering at the Friends House Retirement Community, will restrict participation to residents. A listing of the coronavirus-related changes for each of our groups is below. We are also anticipating starting additional online groups and gatherings open to local and non-local practitioners.

Although the coronavirus is an inconvenience for all, and a serious health threat for many, it can also be an encouragement to strengthen our daily practice and see even more clearly how deeply we are connected to others and to all life. This spiritual perspective is wonderfully expressed in A Prayer for the Pandemic, a recent poem by Celia Landman. It begins:

Where there are anxiety and fear, may we find our still center even in the midst of this.

Where there are anger and frustration at confinement, may we give ourselves permission to rest.

Where there is loss of income and fear for our family’s wellbeing, may we be willing to trust that there are kindness and support in this world.

Where there is disregard for others, may we remember that simple acts of renunciation—staying home and non-doing, can save lives.

Whether we live in the Washington area or in Australia, there is a good likelihood that in the weeks to come we may be meeting less often with fellow practitioners. There are, however, a number of Plum Village resources that can continue to nourish us. You may like to download the Plum Village Smart Phone App (with guided meditations, relaxations, and teachings) or follow the Plum Village Online YouTube channel.

Also, on March 25-29 there will be a 5-day on-line teaching entitled In the Footsteps of Thich Nhat Hanh. It is offered by Lion’s Roar Magazine and the Thich Nhat Hanh Foundation and will include daily teachings by lay Dharma Teachers and Plum Village monastics.

It seems appropriate to end this short note with a metta prayer I learned from Bhante Gunaratana:

May you be well, happy and peaceful. May no harm come to you. May no difficulties come to you. May no problems come to you. May you always meet with success.

May you also have the patience, courage, understanding, and determination to meet and overcome the inevitable difficulties, problems, and failures in life.

Warm wishes.

Mitchell Ratner

Still Water Coronavirus Changes by Location

Ashton, Blueberry Gardens

  • Beginning on March 17th, The Tuesday and Thursday morning meditation and the Friday evening gathering will take place online. For more information, please contact Gene at

Annapolis, at Prana Yoga Studio

  • The Sunday evening program is temporarily suspended. For more information, please contact Richard at

Columbia, Yoga Center of Columbia

  • The Columbia Still Water sangha is moving to a virtual Zoom platform at least through the end of March. For more information, or to join the Still Water Columbia Google Group, please email Tim at

Gaithersburg, Episcopal Church of the Ascension

  • The Gaithersburg practice group will be held online until at least through the end of March. For more information, please send an email to Lori at

Sandy Spring, Friends House Retirement Community

  • The Friday afternoon program will be limited to residents of the Friends House Retirement Community. For more information, please contact Gene at

Silver Spring, Crossings

  • The Thursday evening program will not be offered on March 19th. Beginning on March 26th, the Thursday evening gathering will occur on line. As we are working out the new technology, the Thursday evening program will be offered initially only to those who have already participated on a Thursday evening. If you have been participating and do not receive an invite by Wednesday, March 18th, please email Jane at
  • The Monday, Wednesday, Friday Morning sitting group will temporarily suspend beginning Wednesday, March 18th. To receive notification of changes to the morning sitting schedule, please contact Ann at

Silver Spring, Silver Spring Library

  • The Still Water Spanish-Speaking group (Sangha Contemplando una Flor de Loto) has temporarily suspended its first and third Wednesday evening gathering.  For more information, please email

Stevensville, Still Water Kent Island

  • The Wednesday evening program is temporarily suspended. For more information, please contact Linda at

Takoma Park, Takoma Park Presbyterian Church

  • The Tuesday, Thursday, morning sitting group will temporarily suspend. For more information, please contact Eliza at