Staying alive…ahhh ahhh ahhh ahhh… staying alive….

It has to be sensible to be  at ease with the natural consequence of birth… that is at some point we will die… but also to do what we reasonably can to stay alive and healthy enough to practice, to continue to deepen our practice while we can.

After death, the traditional understanding is that one is blown by karma from the past into another existence. An existence which is dependent on behaviours, not necessarily enacted in this life but which could be related to activities in past lives.
So it could be a long time before we have the freedoms and opportunity to practice the Dharma again.

Another way of looking at this is that we are continuously creating  many scenarios from arising movements in the mind – experiences, including heavens and hells – and believing in them. We fuse with the patterns we have formed from these experiences as though they were more than the relative truth, as though they were self-existing rather than transient experiences arising in awareness… and we want to become free of this on-going confusion.

We have life, with that, the teachings so beautifully explained, and such freedoms and opportunity to practice before our last breath – as well as then :-).

James’ recent zoom teaching Emptiness Equanimity and Kindness is a beautiful explanation and, as you know, we need to hear, to feel, to question to reflect and to digest to the point where there are no obstructions to manifesting that view.

So in order to facilitate that – maybe to give some extra time in this life – surgical masks being unavailable, here is a picture of a mask I made yesterday!


It’s easy to wear, made out of materials to hand, and reusable.
Masks vary in effectiveness…. the Pitti masks, were you able to purchase them, look attractive and are good at filtering some contaminants but they are not designed for the corona virus particle, which is too small for them to filter out… whereas surgical masks seem pretty good – perhaps pretty close to the N95…
Home-made masks definitely have their place under the circumstances.
The rationale and science behind its use and the construction of my mask is explained here. 
There are many websites and much information/nonsense floating around, but this seems to me to have integrity in the results of the scientific testing shown.

It’s worth noting that the 2 m  of social distancing is  a suggested minimum distance  advice which arose from tests on virus transmission… in still air.
If the wind is blowing, or the  transmitter is moving say on a bike, assisting the propulsion, the distance travelled by the virus could be much greater.

Speech is carried as vibrations through air coming from the subject, this air contains moisture… including possibly a viral dose from someone who is infected though not displaying symptoms…it is propulsive, having energy behind it.
And there are not so many people who can know in advance that they are going to cough or sneeze and be able to do something effective to prevent it.

So, to me, as well as social distancing, it makes sense to wear a mask when out and about. This is in order to minimise the viral load received and also as a kindness to others.

Wearing glasses helps protect the mucosa of the eye from viral ingress…ski goggles are even more effective…
…and wearing a mask (and glasses), as well as decreasing the viral dose,  means that fingers, which may have picked up virus particles along the way, are kept away from the face, keeping you safer.

So…in this home made mask, above…
The inner mask is made of non-woven material of some kind given to me by my mother in Thailand ten years ago, with elastic loops that go over the ears… it has a couple of pleats to allow for the nose protuberance!
You can see some stitching at the top of this mask. This is formed around a  plastic covered paperclip which is halfway unfolded so it’s like an S lying on its back. It is used to form the nose shape which  fits on the bridge of the nose… I suggest you bend it over your thumb to start with before trying it on your nose for shape, as it quite stiff to bend.
This  addition is an important extra detail as it helps to keep the cloth closer to the face stopping air from entering directly.

Sewing the mask to a silk scarf helps keep the arrangement in place. ( If you have one, as you can see on the website above, this has slightly better virus protection than an ordinary scarf but mainly it is very easy to breathe through)

You will notice that there is a bit of tissue sticking out between the inner mask and the scarf… this is a dry wipe… kitchen towel or toilet tissue also would do the job of increasing the filtration without making it too difficult to breathe through.
As I have stitched the sides and the top of the mask to the scarf, but not the bottom,  an upside-down ‘pocket’ is formed and this extra layer of filtration can be placed between the two… and is held in place as the scarf is tightened.

The knots tied in the scarf ends mean that it can easily and consistently be tied to the right tightness without  loosening behind the head… a wide ponytail slide, if you happen to have such a thing, clicks easily across between the knots and the head holding the scarf closely in place… Alternatively you could also use a rubber band, hair band, or simply tie  the two scarf ends together.

These three layers of filtration – inner non-woven cloth, tissue, and doubled silk – produce a mask which is quite easy to  breathe through whilst being, according to the measurements on the website above, fairly close to that of a surgical  mask.

It’s also worth noting that it is also washable… but perhaps more important to note that current understanding is that the virus cannot survive for longer than four hours on cloth.  So disinfection occurs when the mask is left for this length of time, say overnight, and doesn’t need  daily washing. The tissue layer can easily be replaced whenever you feel the need but again, after four hours it should be okay.

If you do not have a 10-year-old  cloth mask to start with… you will see that drying-up cloth/ tea towel can be used to make one which would perform this function well… as you can see from the website tests,  j cloths and non-woven cleaning cloth have their place.

Even if you use a material like cotton which only reduces 50% of the viral dose that would still be 50% better than nothing.

Wishing you Good health, and good luck!



P.S. any questions… just ask me via the contact tab