Two weeks ago I was striding along a coastal walkway, looking out over a sparkling sea, feeling free and expansive. I had just planted autumn kale and spinach in my bach garden and had the soil ready for the next stage of broad beans and carrots.
Two days later I was in self isolation. Now, as I write, the whole of New Zealand is going into lockdown.
Across the globe wherever you are, you will be experiencing a big change in your world right now.
How are you coping with the effects of this?
How are you managing?
At such times we need to discover new ways. We need a new map.
And so I’m offering you one now, mapping out a pathway to take you forward:
FIVE STAGES OF IMPACT AND RECOVERY:
It may have all begun with losing your bearings. You feel the impact of the sudden change as you turn up to a meeting or concert, only to find that it has been cancelled. Your yoga class, your gym, your health practitioners, your café, concert hall, your travel and other safe anchors in your world have gone.
What will you put in their place? What new orientation — ‘new normal’ — will you find?
First, shift from your small world to a big perspective, time-wise. Remember that, even though the change is rapid and global, what is happening now is not new. In the last century previous generations have dealt with World Wars, the Spanish flu pandemic, and other events that have turned peoples’ lives upside down.
The current pandemic is not the first in history. Humanity knows this.
Reorientation takes time, but you can do it. Breath into your ancestry, knowing that your forbears went through times of great upheaval, and developed resilience that is in your DNA.
When my friend’s yoga class was cancelled, some misinterpreted a very clear message, and assumed the class would continue the following week. Others pushed for the class to move to a park. Many felt anxious, wondering how they could maintain their health without yoga.
This is understandable, and yet protesting and fighting a change will only create tension and stress.
What do you need to help you relax and accept the big changes in your world? Spiritual teachers show us the way.
Eckhart Tolle says:
‘Whatever you cannot enjoy doing, you can at least accept that this is what you have to do. . . Performing an action in a state of acceptance means you are at peace while you do it. That peace is a subtle energy vibration which then flows into what you do.’
— A New Earth, p. 296
Three: Finding your core strength
Now you can move from shakiness to solidity. Spiritual leaders are calling for this shift in all of us right now. Like a tree whose leaves are shedding, whose twigs and branches are falling and sap returning into the earth, you too are being asked to stay steady through a process of release — of habits, desires, security, travel, things that bring you pleasure, social contact and much more.
Can you find a symbol of core strength to place on an altar or table to help you invoke this quality? Or focus on a role model, someone you admire who is demonstrating this strength?
Four: Finding a creative response
Creativity is a key to resilience. When one thing is blocked, then like water you find your way around the obstacle and flow into a new place. Trust your creativity. You have the capacity to find new ways to live over this time, and some may even be better than before.
Eckhart Tolle reminds us that creativity flows naturally out of acceptance:
‘On the surface, acceptance looks like a passive state, but in reality it is active and creative because it brings something entirely new into this world.’
And anthropologist Michael Jackson says:
‘. . . I am struck by the mysterious ways in which new life and new beginnings are born of brokenness.’
— ‘The Paper Nautilus’, p. 12
Five: Staying connected
Like trees in a forest that are spaced out with airflow around them but whose roots reach out under the ground, you too can stay connected. The roots of trees carry signals to one another, to release nutrients to help any tree that is in trouble, to send a pulse of life through the networks. So too we need to reach out our tendrils to maintain our existing connections and even to create new ones.
There are many ways to reach out. People are picking up the telephone to check on their loved ones. The home confined Italians are singing to one another from their balconies and the Spanish one night at a prearranged time emerged from their balconies to send out a resounding sustained cheer for all of the hard-working health workers.
A friend in a quiet street in the bush tells of her neighbours taking their morning coffee on their front steps where, at a safe distance, they can call out and say hello.
In the weekend I had a delightful conversation out of my bedroom window with my grand daughters who had climbed up a retaining wall across the driveway to tell me about their latest adventures. I was reminded of the time when my father took me to wave hello to my mother as she looked out of the window of the nursing home with my new baby sister in her arms. Those were the days when mothers were kept in hospital for 14 days after giving birth, and children were not permitted to visit. It was beautiful to see her smiling face. I will remember that forever.
May you find orientation to this new time.
May your heart open to acceptance.
May you feel into your core strength and rise to meet the challenge.
May you find creative responses that surprise and delight serve you well.
May you reach out through old and new pathways of connection.
May you be well.
PS Would you like to turn these challenges into a time of discovery? In the night kitchen of my confinement I am brewing up something for you. Creative juices are flowing. Nourishment is going into the brew, and spices to delight.
I am still working on the final form, but for now I’m thinking of a series of weekly online creativity and resilience circles starting very soon, around 11 am on a weekday, for an hour.
You will turn self isolation into self resourcing.
You will turn this period into one of creativity and growth.
You will discover what new life is emerging for you.
You will access spiritual resources.
If you are on my newsletter list you will receive the details directly, or you can watch my Facebook page www.facebook.com/JulietBattenBooks