Neuroscience tells us that it takes three weeks for your brain to develop reliable pathways of a new behavior. Can you remember the last pre-corona interaction you had, the one right before you recognized the threat of corona and changed your behavior? That last interaction will become the line separating before and after corona that will become part of our vocabulary in the near future. Each day thereafter demanded an evolving consciousness about our world and our role within it. In corona times change is not optional, even those of us who are most resistant to change cannot avoid it. We mentally, physically and emotionally somersault through each day. By trial and error, learning from out success and failures, reaching out electronically to friends and family, we create baby new habits and behaviors as well as new self awareness. Two weeks into shelter in place is a reflective dawning, who you were is now in the past; who you are has not yet arrived. This is a space that reflects the stillness of this corona storm. What arises in this space may well be rich if not uncomfortable discoveries. Those who are familiar with grief will recognize this space and its key symptom: what has not served you, perhaps for a very long time, is no longer deniable and reveals itself with a vivid clarity impossible to deny. We have stepped outside out normal lives and are looking back at them. Pain and anxiety (or in rare cases elation) follow, but do not stop here, let the story continue because this is a precious moment of insight coupled with the unique opportunity to be inventive, problem solve and change. The moment will pass, before long it will be gone, don't miss out! Listed below are points of focus that I hope will help with your processing and seizing of this unprecedented moment.
- Drawing Boundaries. Boundaries are an art and skill. Some people have none, others many. Some of us intuitively know where they are but disregard them to please others, to be acceptable. Some of us use them to get our way. Boundaries and defense mechanisms are enmeshed partners in a dysfunctional relationship. In corona times, they change almost daily based on necessity and hard lines. Do you let your teen who "needs" to spend time with a friend do so? Are you in conflict with your partner over this boundary? Do communication skills break down? Do boundaries become a power struggle over right and wrong? Who gets to win? How do you communicate boundaries with loved ones, neighbors and strangers? Do you even know where you are willing to negotiate and what is non negotiable? Lions and Tigers and Bears.....oh my. The way in which you mange boundaries is now in stark relief and is bound to be a source of stress, and ....realization. You don't need to have all the answers, for now the questions are enough.
- Relationships. The opportunity for connection is here. Relationships thrive on vulnerability, we are all vulnerable now and that tenderness, the rawness of the moment is the perfect petri dish for intimacy. If a relationship(s) wasn't working and you're living together... it probably got a lot better in week one (we can survive mode).... and fell apart thereafter. If they were working, you're likely creating a greater depth that may not be easy but is rewarding. But that's not all! Relationships are unpredictable. This is a time to gather information and remain calm, what is exposed now can be processed later.
- Clean Air and Silence I'm an eternal optimist and acknowledge the distortions of logic and facts that accompany optimism in this day of age, but, I like it like that. Have you noticed the clarity of our air? In a time when our lungs need all our protection; what a gift! How about the purity of silence? Isn't it delicious? I can almost hear the Big Bang ringing out from whenever that was... you are part of creation. I cried when I read that dolphins had returned to the canals of Venice. Can you almost feel the ozone recovering? Tried walking down a street lately? The freedom of walking down the middle of the road is exhilarating! Can we bring these corona times into our new normal? We are being taught a lesson now directly from Mother Earth. Let's all be optimists and carry these experiences and lessons forward.
- Letting Go. I love to shop! Groceries and plant nurseries are my guilty pleasures. The thought of going to the store enters my mind several times a day. With upset and irritation I deny myself of what was once pleasurable. What are you denying yourself of these days? Ouch! The longing for something: the familiar, the intimate company of friends and family, a time when not everyone was a potential source of toxicity, including ourselves, is called grief, and we are all grieving! What are you grieving? Remember this: all your personal losses are connected, the grief of this time awakens the losses of your past. Emotional memory is inarticulate and real, meaning, you may be experiencing inexplicable, overwhelming feelings of loss. They are cumulative. Do not dismiss them, let them surge through you and leave you. Make space for the exhaustion you may feel in their their wake.
- Creativity. Creativity is spirituality and you need it right now! Not only do you need to be creative but you may find that creative impulses are finding you without effort on your part. Let your creativity be your guide. People are doing remarkable things from feeding the hungry to howling like a dog. Even the mundane organizing of a closet is a spiritual cleanse. Go with your intuition and instincts. We will all be inspired from the creative endeavors that are inspired by this time. Creativity allows us to see the bigger picture, to transcend the small picture of our lives and find meaning and hope in the present.
- Death. It's here and it's coming. Death and fear are on our doorsteps. In our death and grief avoidant culture, death may be our greatest subject of denial. Don't let it be. Say what needs to be said, do what needs to be done. Now. I love you, thank you, forgive me, you're forgiven, are what the dying need to hear. Wise words from... well not me.... but I can't find the author, who I think would forgive me for quoting them here and now.