Wow. Times are a’changing, aren’t they, my friends? I, like many of us, have spent most of March being swept up in these turbulent times, and it has taken it’s toll.
Seeking joy is not a wrong thing to do, especially in times like these – but I personally only feel okay doing it after I check and acknowledge my privilege. So let’s start with that:
The fact is – if we are able to find the silver lining in this global health crisis, we are privileged.
And we cannot deny our privilege when we brainstorm what new hobbies and projects to immerse ourselves in during our 14 days at home, or when we simply spend our time at home without a real sense of danger towards our life and the lives of our loved ones.
The reality of the situation is that so many people have died, and so many more are going to die.
I’m walking a thin line – I don’t desire to perpetuate fear and panic, nor do I wish to endorse ignorance.
…But it is a true privilege to be “healthy” and not have the status of “immunocompromised” mark your medical records. It is a privilege (and also incorrect) to be able to brush this virus off as “just the flu” and feel invincible to it somehow.
It is a privilege to be quarantined in a warm, safe and happy home, with running water, the internet, entertainment, food and family member(s) who love you and treat you with respect.
It is a privilege to have a job that allows you to work form home. It is a privilege to not have to work at all.
February was a wonderful and vibrant month for me. I was focused, creative, and productive. I achieved almost all the goals I had set out for myself (which historically rarely happens!!!), and felt my confidence in myself and my life expand. I felt the rumbling within me to ramp things up, to set my sights higher. I could do more, I just knew it. And so I walked courageously into March with a new set of targets and goals – many of which filled me with those nervous “can I really do this?” butterflies. I was ready to bring even more intentionality and drive to my life.
Well, the first two weeks of March came down on me like a tonn of bricks. I was rapidly de-railed from the path I was on. Every day new obstacles lined up in in-front of me, and the meeting of my daily and weekly targets felt futile. At first, I was optimistic (read: oblivious) and kept jumping through various hoops so dedicated to getting somewhere.
And then I just stopped.
The Covid-19 pandemic had started to seep into Minnesota, and my role at work started to change. Productivity started to slide, and many of my work targets become fluid and hard to reach. Reya fell sick multiple times. She got an awful ear infection in both ears, we barely slept at night, and she was refusing to eat or drink. I worried for her constantly. I was feeling a little unwell too. And, with my husband and my mom back in Canada, I was learning how to solo-parent for the first time. Though my state was yet to be hit by Covid19, everyone knew it was coming soon, and so I was asked to start working from home. And you probably know that working from home is not an option when you have a sick child. Just days later, schools and child care shut down, followed by the US-Canada border calling all citizens back. So off we went.
If you are feeling a little ungrounded during this season of dis-ease, there are ways that we can connect back with our centered self. I feel it is important not to wait for times to change, because it is difficult, even for experts, to predict how long this is going to last. There are small ways that we can be at peace right now.
Give yourself permission to fail joyfully
Every morning and every night I looked at my to-do list, my habit and goal trackers, and felt dismayed by all the unchecked boxes. This went on for a few days before I made the decision to just be kind to myself. I decided to live gently, to slow down, and I gave myself permission to fail joyfully at everything I set out to do.
I reminded myself that, while I set myself these magnificent goals that serve to grow me and expand me, the foundation of all my ambitions whittles down to pure present living. It is to simply live fully in this moment, and open myself up to the opportunities that are abundant and ripe right now. I don’t want to tangle myself up in some irrelevant and futile quest, and miss the gifts of today.
And there are gifts in today.
I had set out to work out 15 times this month. Last month I managed to work out 16 times! This month I have worked out 5 times and it is already almost the end of March. I give myself permission to fail and to feel good about it. This wasn’t a time to meet that goal. It wasn’t appropriate.
I also was not able to meet most of my work-related goals, due to working from home, sick days, patients being unable to come for unessential appointments, and some targets simply not being relevant anymore. Failed joyfully!
The list could go on.
Failures only affect you if you;
1. Believe the story it tells about you and
2. Hold onto that feeling.
So do yourself a favour and;
1. Don’t create a story about yourself
2. Let go of failures and unmet expectations with joy!
3. Save your ambition, drive, and powerful creative energy for another day when it can be better used to serve you.
4. Just chill.
This is a time to be flexible and freely let go of what is not working.
Do what you can do
I tell myself – I will just do what I can. And I will do the best of what I can. And what I can do changes every day. Some days I can do quite a few things well. I can work a bit, cook, maybe fit in 15 minutes of exercise (instead of 30), text my friend. Some days I will do nothing. Some of the days at the beginning of this month were just about survival. I would ask myself “What things need to happen so that my baby and I can make it to the end of the day safely?” and that was literally the only things I did. We went to bed at 7:30pm together. It was enough.
Be a helper
I think many of us have heard the quote by Fred Rogers “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping”
Now is the time for us to be a helper. Whether that is by working extra shifts at the hospital treating patients, or by simply staying at home and self-isolating, whilst practicing excellent hand hygiene and contact precautions. You can help, and your participation makes a difference.
With social distancing, much of our outward distractions have been removed. Instead of finding ways to fill that void because it feels so uncomfortable to us, let us take some time to just be with that emptiness. Sit with it for a day, and you will naturally be drawn to go inwards. To know life more. To know yourself more. To consult with the gentle soul that dwells in your body. To meet yourself at the place you once left yourself.
Have more conversations about mental wellness
I think that we as a community are starting to realize the buffer and protection that social interaction provides for our mental health. We take our space in communities that support us, spend time with friends and family who accept and care for us, plan and attend events that spark joy for us. With social distancing in place, we have nowhere to turn except inwards. Sometimes going inwards is not a safe space for people struggling with mental illness.
Being quarantined in the home with an abuser is also a very sad and dangerous reality for many. If that is you, please reach out for help. There are social workers who will not turn their back on you, even at this time. If you know someone who you suspect may be in an abusive relationship, check in with them as much as you can.
I am glad to see all the conversations going on about mental health during this time. These conversations are essential for many people. So let’s work to keep the lines of communication open. Reach out to friends. Check in on them virtually. Talk about things that matter.
Connect to the collective consciousness
The energy is STRONG right now. Do you feel it? This is the time to embrace humanity; to feel the expansion at the heart chakra. Meditation and Kriya will be more intense than usual at this time. Meditate on peace. Tune in to the collective energy that all of humanity is exuding right now – not the surface level panic and fear, but the root of it all; unity and love.
When the entire world feels something, endures something, suffers something, or even celebrates something at the same time – we are presented with a rare opportunity to burn through karma on a such a large and powerful scale. We don’t see opportunities like this come by all that often. A break through. A release. A clearing. An exhale.
What a wonderful opportunity we have to re-evaluate our consumption habits and use our resources consciously. We can replace our desire to hoard – which stems from fear, scarcity and selfishness – with the desire to use only what we need, to produce less waste, to walk lightly and gently on earth, and to think of others more than we think of ourselves.
We are in a challenging, uncertain and critical time. There is a real cause for concern here, and we are all, as global citizens, being called to do our part.
Amidst this storm, I see ripples of solidarity and social-care gather momentum and strength and transform into waves of goodness. Have you ever in your life felt so connected with your fellow humans? When was the last time you felt so in sync with the world as a whole? To know you are experiencing the same concerns, the same unraveling and the same rebuilding as someone in Australia, or England, or India or Canada or Nigeria or China or Brazil. This is a global phenomena, and while we have more physical distance than ever before – have you ever felt so connected?
Though times are tough, I hope we take a moment to look at the ways we have come together to protect our vulnerable population. I think it is beautiful, the sacrifices we are making for the greater good of the world. I think often of the healthcare workers who fight from the frontlines, putting themselves at risk every day for our wellbeing. I think of the grocery store workers, the delivery guys, the uber drivers, pharmacists, the cops – the workers who have no choice but to show up every day for work. They are truly holding up our society.
I see the way we are separated but have found so many beautiful and innovative ways to connect with each other still. I see people who continue to create. I see businesses changing how they operate to protect their customers and their employees. I see people continue to find ways to spread joy and kindness. I see so much community and companionship – from singing on the street, to the sharing of free classes and resources online and from balconies and rooftops. I see selfless charity and service between strangers.
I see a a rising of humanity that elevate all of us.
Through all of this, I envision a restructuring of our society and community values as we know it. I see a newfound gratitude that intensifies in all of us – for the simple things – for our connection, touch, conversation, health, compassion. I envision a newly emerging leadership rooted in humanity and true social-welfare.
I know that this is an extra-ordinary and surreal time for most of us. We hear the statistics of this virus consuming so much of the world, and yet, if we have not personally been affected by it, or if we do not know someone directly who has been affected by it – it is easy to feel detached from it all. This is a good time to practice opening our heart and deepening our compassion. Our spiritual practice is to feel the pain and joy of a fellow human, even if we are not touched by the event ourselves.
I believe that we can heal this, certainly not individually, but collectively. Let us respect the advice of the experts who are doing such important work. We will make it through this. We will protect our neighbours and deepen our compassion. We will come out of this and life will go on as it always does. But I hope we don’t forget. I hope we don’t forget this time of our life, where we stayed apart to come together. And I hope that we find more ways to come together as an entire planet, not out of fear, disease or war – but instead for an uplifting cause. I hope we come together more for joy and love. If we can do so much together in the name of disease, imagine what we could do for joy?