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Welcome to week 7 of the Be Well Series – Strategies for Coping with COVID. This week’s topic is Connect Well. Several weeks ago, when I started this journey with you all, I quickly composed a list of strategies that I thought would help you during this challenging time. Then I thought, each of those strategies were so rich that I wanted to expand on each one and share more depth of how to utilize that strategy. This whole process happened rather organically. Each week since, as I sit down to write, I think about that week’s strategy and how it helps me. Weeks ago, when I listed Connect Well as a strategy I was really thinking more externally. This was my original write up:
Connect Well: Reach out to your friends and support network. There are so many great ways to connect via the internet, you don’t have to physically visit people. If you are healthy and symptom free, then volunteer. Check in with your friends who are over 65 or have an immune condition and see if they need any support, like a grocery run. Remember, even if you are feeling well, keep your distance (6’ from others). Staying connected and not isolated will go a long way to support you mentally and emotionally.
All those ideas are still very important and as appropriate now as they were then. But I want to dive a little deeper into the idea of Connecting Well.
Are you feeling a little more anxious right now? Feeling a little more isolated? With Governor Inslee’s extension of the Stay Home-Stay Healthy order I think a lot of folks are experiencing these types of feelings.
You may also be experiencing unrecognized feelings of grief. Grief of the loss of our lives as they used to be. It is now becoming quite real that ‘normal’ activity is not going to return anytime soon. We aren’t going to be able to shop or go out to eat the way we used to. Large events like family reunions, weddings, and graduations have been canceled. Our lives have fundamentally changed. If you normally vacation during the summer months, those trips are likely canceled as well. These are not only ways we stay connected to each other but they are also ways we celebrate life. As spring bursts forth all around us, nature is celebrating life and we may be feeling left out of the party both literally and figuratively! The Stay Home-Stay Healthy order has changed our lives regardless of whether you think it is a good idea or a bad idea. Consequently, you are likely grieving the way things used to be.
If you are a member of the at-risk population, you may be wondering when you’ll ever be able to resume ‘normal’ activity. If you own a small business, you’re worrying if your patrons will return to your business, if your business will recover. If you are unemployed, you are likely concerned with how to make rent, put food on the table and how to get employed again. Working at home and homeschooling your children can be pushing you emotionally and mentally to the brink, especially since there is no opportunity to get a break. You can’t hire a babysitter to go out with your friends for a hike, a drink or simply get a little private time.
This week during one of my mentor’s classes (Robin Rothenberg), she articulated something that I had also been pondering. It’s not just about being in our home structures, our houses and apartments. We have been removed from the constant activity and distraction of our lives. Driving here, there and everywhere. Rushing to meet this person or that, to and from work. All that activity has stopped. We are suddenly left with just ourselves and our immediate family. Sure, we can work from home and distract ourselves with zoom classes, video games, streaming movies and the like. However, we are still left at HOME. I’m referring to the HOME in our bodies, minds and souls. For some, especially those who lean towards being extroverted, this is just too much HOME time. The combination of the grief we are experiencing from the loss of our lives as they used to be, and the forced HOME time may leave us feeling overwhelmed, stuck, fearful and anxious. I am certainly experiencing many of those feelings.
Believe it or not, I’m a bit of an introvert, so I have been mostly delighted with being able to be home and HOME. I have been taking this time to dive deeply into several of the sacred texts of yoga. Enjoying the luxury of this time. The Bhagavad Gita, which means ‘song of God’, is among the texts that I am studying. It is a story about a great war between good and evil and one person’s role in that war, Arjuna. Most of the story is a dialogue between Arjuna and his charioteer, Krishna. Krishna is God incarnate. In this story Krishna shares with Arjuna how to live a yogic life. Volumes have been written about this story, so I won’t go into it deeply. However, there is one nugget that is resonating with me right now that I thought I’d share with you as a tonic for the overwhelm of emotions and challenges you may be experiencing.
Whatever it is you are doing right now, do it well. Do it the best that you can, as an offering or a gift to the Divine, the Universe or your Divine Self. If that sounds too woo-woo for you, then as an offering to someone else, living or dead. If that imagery doesn’t work for you, imagine the gratitude you’d feel if someone else was doing this difficult task for you and offer that gratitude towards yourself. Make everything you do an offering of gratitude for the ability to be able to do this action right now. Know that even if the task at hand is difficult, it will pass. It will shift and change. Experiment with this perspective on your next activity… washing the dishes, doing computer work, going for a walk, your interaction with your child in the midst of a temper tantrum. Think… I am doing this in service to my Divine Self, God, a loved one, etc. Just like volunteering for an organization is an act of service, think of it as volunteering for your SELF, your HOME. Know that this is a role you are playing right now, and it is exactly the role you need to be playing right now. Suppose you volunteered at the food bank and they gave you the job of sweeping the street out front. You’d do that job with sense of pride and attention of being of service to others. Try applying that attitude and attention to yourself and see if it shifts anything. Then try it again, and again.
As I perform this practice, I find a little more space between my fear, my anxiety, my depression and my worry. I feel myself a little more present in the here and now, a little more at home in my HOME. So much is out of our control but this helps me feel a little more in control of how I interact and respond to the world.
Right now, it may feel more difficult than usual. Try making your every action an offering of devotion and service to your HOME. Take it one step at a time, one activity at a time. As you cultivate this practice and connect more with the Divine in yourself, you may find that you view yourself and others with more patience and compassion. From this vantage point, you may feel a little more comfortable at Home… perhaps a little bit more Divine.
May you be at peace & healthy,
Andrea Carvalho, musings on the journey to vibrant embodiment.