How are you doing? How are you feeling? Are you freaked out or pretty chill? Are you enjoying the downtime or scared of how long this could last?
Regardless of how you’re feeling right now, you’re not alone. Even though it’s all too easy to feel that way, especially right now.
This new normal has taken us all by surprise. I don’t think we’re searching for answers to the question “What do we do?” as much as the question “How do we be?”
As in, how do we sit with the external silence that now allows us to hear an internal voice we may not be ready for?
After all, our western culture is built around doing; distracting ourselves by completing to-do lists, juggling schedules, feeding addictions, meeting deadlines, chasing milestones, and prioritising arbitrary activities, all while fueling consumerism that keeps us moving and working and earning, but never lets us stop to breathe, let alone contemplate life’s bigger questions.
So, what if this time is a gift? What if the universe needs us to slow down? What if the planet needs a break from our human footprint that has become unsustainable in so many ways?
I read a caption on Instagram today that immediately resonated with me – and whether it’s accurate or symbolic – I’d like to share it with you now.
“When a bear goes into hibernation, they do it for the health of their community and themselves. In the winter, food is scarce, hibernating allows other animals to have access to limited resources. It slows the spread of disease and virus among other animals during a season when immune systems are lowered, and energy is limited. It is also a time of conserving health for the bear, a time for reflection…it is a time that allows you to renew, to undergo change, to honour your place in life and food cycles. The bear believes that they have done enough and trust in themselves. They know this process is necessary and they will come out the other side renewed.”
Of course, I appreciate we’re not bears and I’m not suggesting this forced quarantine is rainbows and unicorns. Not in the slightest.
But the analogy is a good one.
Not so long ago, the world used to close down on Sundays. A day of rest.
Not so long ago children weren’t competing with smartphones for their parent’s attention.
Not so long ago our bosses didn’t call us on a weekend, just needing a quick favour.
Not so long ago childhood was wild and free; far less contained and controlled.
Not so long ago we didn’t have virtual lives. We read books and magazines and we didn’t rely on 2-day delivery.
Not so long ago life was a little slower, a little simpler…perhaps, a little better.
You see, pretending that life was perfect a week ago or a month ago is bullshit.
Life was just familiar before; full of competition, comparison, acquisition and scarcity. And we’d grown numb to it. We had coping strategies and patterns we repeated day in and day out, but that doesn’t mean they were healthy.
The truth is, our species needs a reset. While I want nothing more than for not one more person to suffer and for governments to take firm action and communities to come together and stop this virus in its tracks, we’d be missing a transformative opportunity if we didn’t stop to ask ourselves, what can we gain from this experience?
What positive change can come from this? How can we make this pandemic mean something?
I’m sure you’ve seen the NASA images over China of the air pollution clearing as factories close due to coronavirus. Nature is breathing a sigh of relief. And I can’t help but wonder, what will happen when the coronavirus is a distant memory? Will the people of China, the people of the world, have evolved enough to make a long-lasting change?
Will we take responsibility for our actions and become a little bit less selfish, less narcissistic, less ego-driven? Can we wake up? Can we become conscious? Can we heal our planet and accept some inconveniences in life to benefit others? Can we slow down? Can we do less?
Can we drop the bravado of capitalism and become connected as local and global communities? Can we drop me for we?
I’m as terrified as anyone. I have family members that likely wouldn’t survive a coronavirus infection. I’m humbled and stripped back to basics and I’m doing my best to rise to the challenge to turn inward. To feel discomfort and keep walking towards it and do the internal work I’ve been putting off for…years.
Because our world needs people whose souls are set on fire with passion and purpose, and we can’t know either of those things if we allow our identities to be defined by external forces.
This is a dark moment in human history, but the night is darkest before dawn and there is no way to get to the light without walking through the dark. Remember, you don’t need to feel brave to be brave.
The reward? This monumental challenge offers us the unprecedented potential for growth. Let’s surrender to reality and stop resisting it. Let’s accept that we’re not in control – we never have been. Stop wishing for this time to be over and accept the as is of the present moment, lean into it and be grateful for it.
“You can’t get to courage without rumbling with vulnerability.” Brené Brown
This moment in time may change the trajectory of your life – if you let it. This may be the life-altering event; the cancer or the heart attack you don’t need to have that finally improves your health or heals a relationship or makes you quit your dead-end job or follow your passion or see your child for the gift they are. Be grateful for this chance to learn whatever lessons sit in this for you.
I am with you on this journey. We will find a way to the other side, together. Togetherness in itself is a lesson; we are not islands, we are and always have been interdependent. We can’t do this alone.
I am a student, not a teacher, and so, I would love to share with you who I am leaning on in this season of life to help me find the lessons I need to learn:
Mother nature – I know, ironic and cheesy but inescapably true. If you can, get outside every day and breathe in her goodness.
Dr. Shefali Tsabury – I’ve followed Shefali’s teachings for years and have been lucky enough to see her speak in person a couple of times. She has a knack for moving you to tears so be warned, but she also tells it how it is, which I love! Her teachings are transformational – no other word for it. She is emailing her list daily with wisdom and insights so I highly recommend joining here.
For the last three days, she has also posted Youtube videos here and here and here. I loved them all, but the second was my favourite. Shefali is also hosting FREE daily meditations in her joint pop-up Facebook Group and you can join here and I’ve been saying for years that I will start a daily meditation and I’ve never stuck with it consistently. This is my one big change I want to make during COVID-19. Want an accountability partner for meditation? I need one, so email me if you do too.
Dr. Vanessa LaPointe – a shining light of positivity and goodness, I can’t help but smile and feel supported and seen when one of Dr. V’s posts pop up on my Instagram feed () . Dr Vanessa is a clinical psychologist and is hosting regular Facebook Lives on her page on topics related to COVID-19 including how to shine a light into darkness and how to thrive in isolation.
Brené Brown – just started a new podcast last week called Unlocking Us and it couldn’t have come at a better time. I’m sure her upcoming episodes are going to be a source of support through this pandemic. Brené describes this pandemic as “a massive experiment in collective vulnerability”. She is so right. If you haven’t seen Brene’s iconic TED Talk, The Power of Vulnerability stop what you’re doing right now and watch it. And also check out Brené’s Netflix special: “Brené Brown: The Call to Courage”, where she will break down all of your walls and bring this warm feeling of liberation you didn’t know you were aching for (even my husband loved it!).
Allow these guides to help you explore how you’re feeling in this moment. Notice your feelings. Share them. Then, let them pass. Our emotions and moods are passing waves and our thoughts aren’t always accurate or true.
Remember that although we are in isolation inside our own four walls, this moment is all about togetherness. It’s about rising as ONE. This moment brings the world together on a single mission to protect our most vulnerable. This is a stark reminder of our interdependence.
My hope is that this experience will have us drop the illusion of separateness and independence, which, when taken to extremes as our western culture does, creates disconnection. Use this time to reconnect with old friends over FaceTime, phone calls, or text. Nurture family connections.
In the face of a devastating pandemic, we can find a way to reset our collective compass in the direction we want our world to take, for generations to come.
Let’s reconnect. Let’s heal. Let’s come together.
I’d like to leave you with these words from Raywat Deonandan, PhD and Epidemiologist & Associate Professor at the University of Ottawa who sums up what we are facing – together – beautifully:
“This is a shared human experience like few others in history, a bonding moment. Unlike a war where we are asked to ban together to kill other people, we are bonding together against a common inhuman foe, a virus. This is our chance to be heroic in a way no other generation has had. And look at what we are doing. We are sacrificing our daily freedoms and oodles of wealth to protect our most vulnerable citizens. We should be proud that as a species we have chosen the moral path and not the selfish one.”
We can do this, mama.