Given the levels of fear throughout the world as COVID-19 continues its spread, reaching the official level of a pandemic, I thought that today’s truth would be appropriate.
Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood.
Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.
– Marie Curie
It is a chaotic time, to be sure. However, we can choose to consciously seek out those glimmers of beauty just waiting to be found amongst the chaos (while, at the same time, practicing #socialdistancing and #washyadamnhands).
The sun still rises and sets each and every day and creates a wonder of glorious beauty in the sky.
The wind still rustles through the trees, carrying little whispers in its passing.
Many of you live in a place where tender buds are beginning to bloom, signaling the beginning of spring. Have you noticed their colors? Their slow unfurling? Their evolution?
I think of my own evolution. Much of the journey is chronicled on this blog. I see how much more I understand now instead of fear. How that understanding has given me tools to reduce the responses of my anxiety-prone nature.
What about your own evolution?
Do you ever just stop to ponder how marvelous it is just to exist?
This is in no way to diminish the real fact that people are dying from this disease. Many of you probably have someone that you love that you’re really worried “if they caught it…”. And perhaps that someone is even you.
However, living in a state of constant stress weakens our immune system. Something none of us want at any time, but especially not when a disease is ravaging our world.
Large swaths of us are in some form of lockdown as we try to do our part to help flatten the curve. While I thrive in silence and solitude, that’s not quite what my life looks like. Miss Sunshine’s high school has been canceled until the end of March (at least). Her first year of Varsity soccer has been put on hold before it ever even began. Her classes are going online. Big Mr. is on spring break (to clarify, not a traveling one…just a no school one), but afterward his college is going online until April 5th (at least). There are many other closings that are coming in daily. One of the saddest for me is the closing of the public library (although I know it had to be done).
I thought I’d share some of my plans to stay sane and offer some other ideas on how to use this time.
- Setting Boundaries. This is not one of my strong qualities. Especially when it comes to my children. However, I have some things I’ve been working on in my silence and solitude and I will be setting some “Quiet, Do not disturb” hours.
- Meditation. If you don’t have a meditation practice, this is a great time to start! Meditation is the main reason that I have learned not to panic in a crisis (I’m a mother of 3…so plenty of experience in crises). I suffer from a propensity towards anxiety attacks and having tools in place to lower that fight-or-flight reaction is crucial to my wellbeing.
- Breathwork. While breathing is an important part of meditation, I’m including it separately. This is because if you start to feel anxious by all the news coming in your direction, a quick way to calm down in to focus on your breathing.
When my anxiety issues first came to light at 18, I went to see my doctor for tingling in my fingers and face, only to find out that I was in a constant state of low-level hyperventilation.
Breathing took an important role in stress management. There are a plethora of patterns that claim to work best. I don’t usually count, but when I tried what my normal pattern might be it’s something like this: inhale through the nose to a count of 4, hold for a count of 1-2, exhale slowly through the mouth for a count of 6-8. I’ve been doing this type of breathing for years, well before I learned about meditation. It’s typically employed on long car rides because I don’t passenger very well. FYI- I really wish I’d employed meditation back in the early 2000s. I was implementing Feng Shui principles into my home so surely I’d heard about it, but honestly I don’t remember having much knowledge about it.
- Painting. We had some canvases but were running low on paint, so we remedied that and set up a painting station in the basement.
- Puzzles. I picked up some new puzzles. Growing up, we always had a puzzle that the family was working on. I’m hoping that everyone will pitch in with at least a piece or two.
- Board/Card Games. Nothing like a round of Monopoly to fill hours of time!
- Writing. I’ve had a million ideas swirling around in my head for short stories and novels and still have never committed to putting them to paper. I plan to use this time to change that.
- Taking photos. There is beauty in the mundane, in the simple, in the rarely noticed. I’m going to work on capturing more of that.
- Make a Phone Call. Is there someone that you’ve been meaning to call, but never find the time? This is an excellent time to pick up that phone (or at least send that text). And do be sure to check in on people.
- Study Your Roots. Ever wondered where you came from? The lineage that led to you? Now is a great time to delve into your genealogy. Yes, the fact that today is St. Patrick’s Day and I have Irish lineage is what led to this thought. (read more: Are You Irish? and My Teenagers Had DNA Testing).
- Read. I’ve been making my way through a stack of books. Now, I’ll have fewer things competing for my attention.
I recently finished reading the book, Keep Going. 10 ways to stay creative in good times and bad by Austin Kleon and loved this quote.
You can be woke without waking up to the news.
Reserve your morning time for the things you love before you dive headlong into reading the news which only serves to raise your fears and anxieties.
While you can find many meditations online that may suit your needs, you might also want to consider finding a calming music track and focusing on your heart chakra. The color typically associated with the heart chakra is green. Imagine that a green light is growing in your heart space and imagine that light radiating out and carrying thoughts of love and healing throughout the world. Believe with all your soul that you are touching those who are worried or suffering. Because you are.
It may also be helpful to have a mantra to keep in mind when the world is coming at you so fast that you feel bombarded. Something like, “I choose calm” or “I reside in love and light”.
Please, please, remember to be gentle with yourself and with others. These are trying times and we could all use some compassion and kindness (even on our grumpy days. I’d argue that’s when it’s needed most).
Stay healthy out there.
Don’t forget to tell me what you’re doing to avoid cabin fever. I’d hate for any of you to turn into Jack Torrance (bonus points if you catch the reference).
Pass out smiles, not handshakes. Share with the less fortunate. And stop hoarding the TP!
Let your light shine!