May 141st 2020, 12:31:49 PM
All as expected with a few great surprises
As I write this, I hope from the bottom of my heart that you are safe and well. But I know full well that it will not be true for everyone and my heart goes out to those that have suffered and lost during this period. Nothing I have to say is intended to undermine that.
One Thought was founded ten years ago with the purpose of spreading awareness that we are experiencing our minds not our circumstances and to provide an understanding that enables people to discover their potential for natural resilience, clarity and well-being. The current situation has been a perfect example of how needed that is and how far there is to go. Everywhere you look there are people struggling and suffering whether it be anxiety, upset or severe distress. In almost all cases they are convinced it is because of the uncertainty, or the threat within the situation we are in. There is virtually no discussion of the role of our minds and the potential for a clearer mind in the current situation even though there are countless examples of it: People feeling a deeper love and contentment or less pressure. Before the outbreak, the media reports were about how the pressures of modern life were causing mental health problems. Now the reports are about how the details of the current situation are causing exactly the same mental health problems. The reports are exactly the same. But nobody seems to notice because it is in relation to differing circumstances. The last few weeks have really highlighted how vital a better understanding of the mind is and how many complications, issues and unnecessary suffering exists because it is not common knowledge. That is still our vision and I am hoping that our new online course will enable an understanding to spread further with more ease.
On a general level, it looks to me as if the world is suffering from exactly the same misunderstanding that was causing problems before this crisis. On a personal level, there have been surprising realisations. In the current situation, none of my normal routines have been possible. There is no going to work or to a meeting or out for food. I had no idea how much I was thinking about these micro-decisions all day long. How do I know this? By the gaping chasm left in my mind. I cannot believe the mental space I have been left with. I can only assume that was how much space I was using to decide when to leave the house, where to go, what do to there, when to have lunch, what to have for lunch, what to do next, what to do later etc etc etc. I had no idea I was giving up so much presence of mind and richness of experience. If I had known I was using so much mental space to decide where to go and what to eat, I would have given up thinking about it long ago. It seemed so benign. It is shocking to see how much difference all that thought was making. Just seeing that has been such an unexpected gift and revealed a potential for a whole new experience of daily life.
On a larger scale, the past few weeks have been fascinating to be a part of. There are so many things that we assumed were difficult, time consuming or unrealistic that have literally happened in a matter of days or weeks: Large scale businesses shifting quickly and efficiently to flexible home working and virtual meetings after trying to implement it for years. Environmental improvements in air and water quality to name a couple. It has been amazing how quickly and extremely the look and routines of our lives have changed. But yet it has all happened fairly easily. It has really highlighted how much we are held back by our thoughts and assumptions about what is possible and what is realistic. When these are taken off the table, things can and do happen at a surprising rate. I have found this sobering but also inspiring. It really shows how much more is possible than we think. I for one am going to be putting a lot less stock in my reasonable expectations and trying to remember that we really do not know what is possible if we are willing to accept that we have no idea what is really possible. If we think we know what is possible, then we are likely limiting ourselves.
It's been hard to know how to write an update for my experience of lockdown. I know everyone has had their own experience of this pandemic. Some beautiful, some brutal. For many, it sounds like both. This is just mine.
- I have been making sure I use all my available experiences so no thought is left out.
- I have done lots of bliss and gratitude. Lots of dropping down and feeling very connected. Then some blaming it (the bliss) on the woods.
- And some hitting the wall.
- In some ways, I don’t want it to end.
- I don’t want airplanes to clog the sky and car fumes to choke the birds.
- I know we need to go back to running something but would love it if what we are doing could be more peaceful than what we have been doing. I love the idea that we could tread more lightly on this planet.
- I would also like to have a haircut that resembles a style of some sort.
- Defo not ready to get out of stretch pants.
Almost overnight, all of our in-person work was cancelled leaving a wide gaping hole in our schedule. It was shocking to have everything I think of as my normal life wiped away. When Aaron and I sat down and really thought about how we wanted to respond to what was happening, we were surprised to feel excited to have some unspoken for time to finally finish some projects that we really cared about but always ended too low on the list. The first few weeks felt very spacious and un-rushed. I was so grateful for the simplest things. Aaron and I felt like heroes when we put a healthy meal on the table when the supermarket shelves looked like they had alopecia. Very little mattered outside of being together and taking a day at a time; we were free to make up every day. As a family, we crafted together, baked and spent unrushed dinner times enjoying listening to each other.
Early on in lockdown I got sick. Sicker than I have been for years. I came down with a fever followed by pain in my eyes, throat and then limbs. Even though I did not develop a cough, the question floating in the air was "do I have ‘the’ virus?" I was born with underdeveloped lungs and have lived most of my life with intermittent asthma, so it seemed reasonable to assume that if I did, it would hit my lungs hard. Having had periods of my life where effortless breath was not a luxury, I prioritised keeping my head clear. For me, this was not having any expectations or preferences as to what might happen. I did not develop a significant issue with my lungs. I am still surprised and beyond grateful for that. It was only after losing my sense of taste and smell did I start to think maybe I might have contracted COVID-19. I came out of the illness very weak and not quite me. When I started to feel more myself it was a little like re-entering my body. As the days progressed I was filled up with deep gratitude and tenderness for my ability to breath, taste, walk and feel here again.
As I started to fully recover and the weeks passed I noticed my mind start to speed up and my enjoyment and feeling of connection start to fade. More things started to matter. Silly things. With no real reasons to be busy, I started to find myself filling the gaps in my day with very ‘worthy' errands and projects. I got through my sewing pile, cleaned, decluttered constipated closets and even went on an experimental baking binge. The space between doing the next thing in my day got smaller and tighter as I moved from job to job and I got more impatient and critical of people around me. I had moved away from a deeper feeling of connection in myself to a more subtle anxiety-driven routine. Only a few weeks before I had felt like the luckiest woman in the world to have this gorgeous, interesting and thoughtful partner to be in lockdown with and the most creative, sweet kids to “what are you doing in my way, can’t you find another room to do that in …..”
Without a normal routine to blame, it became obvious to me that I have been creating a lot of my life driven by a subtle level of invisible mental speed. It had been very tricky to see as most of my excess running around thoughts have a label of ‘passion’ and ‘care’ written on them. In a quieter mind, what occurs to me is so much simpler.
We are still in lockdown as I write this. The government is starting to lift some restrictions and the world is trying to go back to some version of normal. I am acutely aware of how much I do not want to go back to my normal before lockdown. I have been experimenting with not listening to so much of my normal mental noise and I feel like I have been left with a simpler, more meaningful life. I still care and feel passionate about what I do but it's with a quieter feeling. Lockdown has restricted me in so many ways but I also see how free I am.
Like the planet, it has been an incredible chance to rebalance.
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