When the world seems upside-down
If the new coronavirus has directly affected you or someone in your household, the effects can be brutal, even deadly. Most of the rest of us are at least finding our routines disrupted; some of us are suddenly out of work and some of us are working longer and harder than ever. In my family, two college graduations, several vacations, and a baby shower have been cancelled, three of us are suddenly working from home, and one of us cannot return to her home abroad. A few days ago, my partner returned from shopping with a package of toilet paper; it seemed like cause for a celebration. I just received a newsletter from my local district council advertising gatherings, meetings, and elections -- all obviously planned before the current restrictions and social distancing started. Reading it, I have a surreal feeling, as if it was about a different world.
In a way, it was about a different world. How do we adjust to all of this? How can we be effective in this very different, upside-down world?
First, I think it is very useful to be aware of where we are; right here, right now, with very little judgement. Almost the definition of being mindfully present. It includes being aware of our senses, our outside environment, and our inner thoughts, feelings, and beliefs. Using mindfulness exercises, such as checking in with each of your senses or using focused exhalation breathing may help us relax the most active inner parts of us so that we can listen to everything going on.
Listening to our thoughts, feelings, and sensations and acknowledging what we find can also be very useful. You might feel sluggish, easily irritated, confused, tense, or a wide variety of other things. It makes a great deal of sense to feel afraid, uncertain, and insecure, for example, in our current environment. And no one is immune; even if many of your routines have stayed the same, most of the people around you are experiencing sudden and significant change.
Listening to and acknowledging the messages we are receiving, we may find a richer response than we had been aware of before and discover what we need. When we discover
what we need, we often find we already have the tools.
Recognizing, for example, that I felt tense and overwhelmed, worried about the future, allowed me to figure out what I needed in the moment. It seemed as if I had been covered by a heavy, wet blanket, keeping me from moving. Reaching out to people I care about with gratitude and thanks helped me. Spending extra time with my dog and curling up with a book helped me. Returning to my yoga practice in the morning helped me. I found a way to begin to lift a corner of the blanket, even if I can't remove it yet.
Wishing you peace, health, happiness, and joy. Allen