How are you doing as lockdown progresses?
Are you resisting the slowing down, or the speeding up, of your life? Do you let the sense of limbo frustrate you or are you letting it go? Are you being drawn further into your screens and out of your body, or is it the other way around? Do you enjoy the stillness? Or is it driving you crazy?
I am noticing a shift in myself, and other people, as this enforced lockdown, globally, is encouraging us to say “no” to the rat race and the relentless pressures of growth, expansion and competition. It is also giving us the opportunity to say “yes” to being more present and mindful with ourselves, others and the world around us. It opens us to being content with what we have as well as connecting to and sustaining community. What gifts these things are.
At the beginning, I also noticed an initial resistance. Maybe you felt it too? Or perhaps you are still resisting the inevitability and uncertainty of this Coronavirus situation. It manifests as a “I can’t believe this is happening” or “What will I do?” or “What can I do?” “How will I cope?” The tension that comes from worrying about money, business, family and friends is another sign of the resistance around having to give up control. And frustration that so much is on-hold: house moves, career progress, business growth, birthdays, family and business events, weddings, schooling, funerals. “When will things return to normal?” and “How long will I have to wait?” speak to that anxiety as well.
As a society, we are in pain over the loss of our old lives and the way we used to live. Our resistance, though understandable, only leads to suffering as we grasp for more of what is not available to us right now. Some of our old ways may never return and we will have to make our peace with that. But, in the short-term, resistance prevents our ability to adapt, be flexible and creative. The tension resistance creates stops our minds from finding solutions to the problems and prevents our bodies from living in peace and harmony with the landscape of ever-changing challenges.
But, if you can let go of the resistance and allow it to give way to acceptance, you can let go of this struggle that is beyond your power to control. The questions then shift to “How can I make the best of this situation?” “What are the advantages and possibilities?” “What can I create from this?” “Where are the opportunities and how can I make them happen?” People are adapting to a new normal. They are appreciating that they could use their time differently. That this way of life might have unforeseen advantages that could be sustainable in a post-Coronavirus world.
The impact of resistance on the mind and body is one of stress, anxiety, tension and dis-ease. In contrast, acceptance leaves the body and mind at peace, ease and tranquil. It’s just more pleasant to live through the Coronavirus experience this way, if you can. Let go of what you cannot control, accept the reality of your situation, pay attention to your breath and notice your body. Then, from this grounded place, take action. Here is a video on these four points:
Here are 4 things I have noticed in myself and my community (both on- and off-line) that have come about as people have let go of their resistance and opened to acceptance.
Your life was going in a particular direction and focused in a specific way before Coronavirus appeared. And now, much of that is on-hold. Others are completely blown out of the water. Some things are accelerating. This is an opportunity to pivot or change direction completely:
- Working from home, shifting face-to-face meetings and training to online platforms.
- Now you have time and space to create new projects and complete them, perhaps start new types of work or revenue-generating opportunities.
- Many of us are travelling less and enjoying the extra time that gives to sleep longer, exercise and move more, connect with your loved ones more frequently and deeply and enjoy your local environment.
- Old hobbies can be done in a different way now and with the additional time you have, why not take on a new hobby? Learn a language, develop a skill, try something you’ve always wanted to do or something completely new. The opportunities are endless.
- We are collectively taking a breath- humanity and the planet. As we pause, new insights come to us and we can embrace the potential opening. This is a valuable opportunity to make slight and gentle adjustments that could have profound positive impact ten years from now and beyond. Already the air is clearing, the oceans and rivers are cleaner and wildlife is safer to roam.
People are being so kind. Reaching out to acquaintances and strangers to help and support. We are reaching out to friends we barely speak with normally and building new relationships as people come together for a common cause.
We are, for the first time in human history, united under a common threat. Imagine that? Many of the differences that usually divide us are being put to one side so that we may come together and collaborate and help each other. Giving us the opportunity to come together and connect regardless of faith, gender, colour, nationality, sexual orientation or political persuasion. Humanity is coming together as one and that is priceless. What if we could keep that going once this threat is over?
This is also an ideal time to connect to people in your personal and professional networks and cement those relationships. And, by opening new ventures, create new relationships that might breathe new life into your business or life in general.
Hasn’t life become much simpler suddenly?
We are being given the chance to enjoy the simple pleasures of life: walking, cycling, running, the natural world, cooking, gardening and conversation to name a few. Life was so complex before Coronavirus that many people didn’t pay attention to these things. You may have done them. But you may not have been as attentive as you might have been while doing them. Rushing to move on to the next thing? Or thinking about the future or the past rather than paying attention to the present? These are common ways of doing things in our modern world.
Coronavirus has slowed things down. There is less of a rush. Less of a drive to push that extra mile or two all the time. Without that pressure, we are better able to enjoy each task as we are doing it. Now, in the simplicity of life, there is a mindfulness that perhaps was not there before.
Taking time to notice the simple pleasures makes tasks that feel mundane when we are rushing, more pleasurable, purposeful and powerful when life is slower and simplified.
The opportunities, the connection to community and the simple pleasures allow us to be more present. The slowing down allows us to take notice. There is so much you could worry about for tomorrow, but you cannot answer or control those things. So, let them go. The slowing down means there is less to preoccupy your mind. If you let it. You could always let yourself worry more and more about the unknowns and the things out of your control. But, when you let go and only focus on what is in your sphere of influence, you realise that, for now, there are only certain things you can do.
I have heard many people say that they are on their hamster wheel of worry and concern. When I probe deeper, they say that they are thinking about things over which they have no control. Nor can they answer the questions they are posing. Lockdown is imposing a long horizon. Much of our worlds are on-hold, an enforced stillness that we can either fight and know turmoil and distress. Or let go into so that we might know greater tranquillity and peace.
So, allow yourself to be present in all that you are doing during the Coronavirus lockdown. Allow these special moments to keep you present with what is in front of you. Bask in the immediacy of what you are doing. Know that there is no rat-race today. There is nothing to chase. Enjoy the reprieve that Coronavirus has given you, if you can.
This enforced lockdown has encouraged these behaviours. Whether you are doing these things or not is a choice. Perhaps the events are making that choice easier? But never forget that it is a choice.
My invitation is to ask you to decide which of these choices will you chose to keep after Coronavirus. When lockdown is done and the threat to our health is significantly reduced, what of this will you decide to maintain? Here’s an earlier blog on what you might want to be thinking about when you are making choices.
When the world changes back, if it changes back, what will you commit to keeping the same? The community? The presence? Your simple pleasures? The opportunities? Something else entirely? If enough of us commit to keeping some of these things, perhaps the world will not go back to how it was. Perhaps our working lives will change so that we commute less or connect more online at work. Maybe we’ll socialise with our friends, family and communities more? Perhaps we’ll travel less and care for the environment more? Maybe we’ll reassess what productivity means and what a healthy economy and financial system looks like.
I don’t know. But something is changing for the better in amongst all the pain, fear and anxiety. What will you change and take into your new future?