With the COVID-19 crisis in full swing, remaining calm during the panic is incredibly difficult. There is a mix of misinformation and alarmism in the media, and we all find ourselves wondering: How will this impact my life? Will my loved ones be OK? Can I pay my bills? What will happen to my job? The fear has crept in for many, but there are ways to mitigate the anxiety with mindful meditation.
Enter Cory Muscara.
He isn’t your average 30-year-old man. To start, he’s a former Buddhist monk, who spent six months living in Burma to learn the true art, and practice of mindful meditation. His six-month silent meditation retreat consisted of Cory spending 14 to 20 hours per day meditating and getting only two to five hours of sleep per night. There was no reading, writing, speaking, listening to music, or contact with the outside world allowed.
Cory’s choice to participate in the retreat changed his life course completely. He initially decided to go to Burma because he was interested in cultivating fulfillment that wasn’t dependent on his life being perfectly manufactured to his liking. He knew he was going to encounter difficult things in his life and wanted to make sure he had an inner peace that he could use to combat life’s highs and lows, as well as any unforeseen crisis (like the coronavirus crisis we are all encountering today).
Cory says that learning the art of meditation did not come easy, especially during trying times. Burma was hot, daily highs consisted of 100+ degree heat, mosquito bites and mattresses so thin you could squeeze them between your fingers and feel your bone on the other side. During this process, the hardest part for Cory was learning to stay present to all dimensions of his humanness. Meaning when you can’t distract yourself from your mind and body because of no technology, reading, dessert, sex, etc., forced Cory to meet himself in the mirror, fully and vulnerably.
His time in Burma served as one of the ultimate learning experiences of his life to date. This great experience, now seven years behind him, is still being implemented into his daily life. The hardest part for Cory?
Transitioning from being able to practice deep meditation all day, to having to make money, living back at home with his parents, and dealing with relationship dynamics.
Now what? After Cory’s experience, he set two immediate goals: to spread these teachings far and wide, and to go deep with those who are looking for more. Goal setting was Cory’s first step to making the world a better place as an entrepreneur– and today he’s doing it. Cory’s life work and mission is aimed at helping people in the real world practice the depth of his teachings in a practical, relatable, and accessible way via retreats, classes, workshops and speaking engagements. He also hosts a daily podcast called Practicing Human and teaches on a number of different apps. Cory also published his first book titled, “Stop Missing Your Life here.” These outlets serve as ways for him to communicate his findings, for real people to apply to their daily lives.
What did he learn?
Cory learned that all things are impermanent, and there is no refuge to be taken in any momentary experience. He learned that all experience is coming and going – good things will come and go, bad things will come and go – and the only way to find peace is to cultivate a mind that is able to move fluidly through the changing landscape of life, and to not attach too strongly to any momentary experience. He also learned how to become his own best friend, which was probably the greatest gift he ever received.
This concept challenges one to befriend his or herself– for example, instead of beating yourself up all the time, talk to yourself as you would a great friend going through a difficult time.
Cory advocates that everyone has the right to know that they can influence their own happiness– and suffering– by learning how to work with their mind. However, he says we don’t get this education when we’re young. It’s his mission to make the depth of these teachings practical, relatable, and accessible for the average person living in the real world.
His goals today continue to take shape, especially as the pandemic intensifies around the world. He says he feels he’s doing right in the world, by helping people to not miss their lives, and says it feels like the message of 2020.
Listen to Cory’s recent podcasts on COVID-19, or how to lessen your anxiety around it on Practicing Human. You can also learn many meditation exercises in his book, “Stop Missing Your Life.” Follow Cory at @corymuscara.