Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve often stopped briefly and contemplated the gravity of the global pandemic we’re all currently facing, I find myself feeling dazed and confused on a daily basis at the bewildering speed of how things have moved and at how much everyday life has changed. There is a great amount of fear and panic, which is creating ripples of angst and uncertainty. Observing the world around me, it seems clear that this is bringing out both the best, and the worst, in people from local volunteers helping the vulnerable on one hand, to panic buying and an increase in scams on the other.
As someone with multiple ‘underlying health conditions’, I am following government advice and isolating myself for the next three months. I do find even the term ‘isolation’ sounds desolate and grey, cold and disconnected, so I have chosen to cocoon myself instead. As I stay indoors, I am (hopefully) being cocooned from this virus and, in turn, helping to keep others safe. It all still feels very surreal as it’s so hard to comprehend the situation we all now find ourselves in.
I saw a quote from an Italian virologist in Milan (Roberto Burioni) who spoke about social distancing ‘It’s like being in car that is going against a wall, just press the brake and we are safe. But the pedal we must all press together…’ We are certainly all in this together and if we all ‘press that brake pedal’ together, we can each do our part to make a positive difference.
As the lockdown stillness intensifies around the globe, we are slowly giving the Earth a chance to breathe again. Seeing pollution levels plummet and the clear waters in Venice, this is a timely reminder to each of us as to the impact we have on Mother Earth. We are not invincible beings, we are fragile souls, inextricably entwined into the great big ecosystem of the planet, and if we don’t learn how to live in harmony once again, there is no opportunity to flourish and thrive.
During my period of cocooning, I am choosing to make the most of my time at home, a place I rarely get to spend long periods of time as I am so often at hospital and medical appointments. My life is one of rushing from appointment to appointment, using my very finite energy to try to manage my health conditions, but having very little time left over for me.
As my appointments are shifting to telephone and video-based appointments, and one of my main practitioners is stepping onto the frontline to help the NHS in it’s time of need, so I find myself suddenly with so much time and space. At the moment, I’m restless and wondering how to accommodate the room, I’m fidgeting and wiggling, wondering how to fill my days, yet, at the same time, I’m also taking some big deep breaths and finding my own centre once again. I’m also wondering why more of my appointments aren’t usually phone-based as it certainly makes my life easier!
Just being outside in my garden, it’s quieter, and there’s a stillness as people retreat to their homes and overwhelmingly appear to respect the request to stay at home. The sun is shining and the birds are singing as though they have been given some respite from the daily grind of everyday life.
Like many others, I have sensed a heightened level of anxiety emanating from the core of my being. I think this is mostly driven by how quickly things have been moving, but also at the overstimulation of the media. It’s only natural to want to keep up to date, but it adds to the angst and feeds the panic. So, I’ve decided to accept that I have no control over this situation, other than how I choose to spend the coming weeks. I choose to follow government/medical guidance and cocoon myself, I choose to listen to the news far less and I choose to spend my time in quiet reflection, sending healing thoughts outwards to wherever it may be needed. This acceptance is enabling me to breathe more deeply and to find some tranquility in my heart and soul.
Although this period of cocooning is being enforced upon us, I’m actually beginning to focus on what it can give me rather than what it’s taking away from me. It’s time to shift down a few gears, to watch the sky, to listen to the birds, to sit in my garden, to contemplate life…and to get those outstanding jobs around the house done! When do we ever get such opportunities?
It’s important not to forget that many amongst us are not able to cocoon themselves, they are on the frontline, either in the health service, emergency services, farmers, food supplies, cleaners and many other key workers. We should each take time to offer our thanks and praise to them all for their courage and strength, and to make sure we only ever buy what we need so these people always have food on the shelves and can get what they need too.
Whilst the idea of this time is to retreat, I have been amazed at the growing sense of community rising up all around me, from people volunteering in their hundreds of thousands to support the NHS and people setting up local support networks to help delivery essentials to the elderly and vulnerable. This is a time for coming together, for unity and understanding. This virus knows no borders, no race, no religion, no money or status…we truly are all in this together.
This is week two of cocooning for me and time is already moving so fast, I drew up a little bucket list of things to do whilst I’m in retreat, and I’m hoping I will find at least some time to be productive. This time is precious, so it’s important I try to use it wisely. Yet, at the same time, I am enjoying the opportunity to rest, breathe deeply and live a much slower pace of life.
Although I’ve been in retreat, I have had more time to connect with friends and those close. My conversations are leisurely without keeping one eye on the clock, the conversations are meaningful as much of the mundane chitter chatter has faded away and we’re speaking more from the heart with sincerity and open-ness. As a result, I’m beginning to feel more interconnected after a couple of years of disconnection due to health issues.
So, it’s my choice to try to make the most of this period of cocooning, to see it as a precious gift and to start appreciating the little things, which are actually great big things, from listening to the birds singing in the garden, watching the daffodils swaying in the breeze and resting more consciously in the moment. Admittedly, I miss my regular visits to cafés to people watch and chat, and I miss the physical connection with family and friends, but I’m also realising the importance of stillness and quiet, and how much it can bring me.
We are all in unchartered terrain, but the acts of kindness and love are the anchors that can keep us tethered and grounded. This is a time to look out for each other and to cultivate an atmosphere of love, unity and compassion. The future may feel uncertain, and life has changed beyond recognition, but this will pass. Even during times when we may feel alone, or we feel angst ridden or upset, there is always someone there to offer support or a listening ear. We are all in this together, and we will find a way through this. The best strategy is to take each day as it comes, to not think about what may, or may not, happen, and to make sure we each take good care of our ourselves – mind, body and soul…