As we face another few months of restrictions I have been reflecting on life since Covid began affecting our lives – some 6 months ago back in March. I became aware that the news of tighter restrictions as cases of Covid soar again, was causing me some angst and this was manifesting as a tiredness and irritability in my being and tightness in my body. My shoulders were feeling tighter than usual and I noticed a squeezing in my solar plexus – which is always a signal that all is not well.
As we went into lockdown back in March, I remember thinking that it was only going to be for a few weeks, couple of months at the most. At the time I made a decision to ‘lockdown’ in a different location to my then home. Here I am six months later, and I am noticing the impact this has all had on my mind, my body and my being.
To begin with, to be honest, I really appreciated, even relished in the fact that I could just remain in one place. It felt freeing in some way to be given permission to work at home and not travel anywhere, which was a complete change from the way I had been living. I was always on a train or in a car, travelling from one place to another to fulfil my working and personal life. Lots of doing, whether for myself or others. My life has actually transformed into something quite different and better as I am often immersed in nature. Not only is the location different, but my activities and lifestyle are different too.
I now find myself worrying about my family and the impact on them. It’s been difficult to see both my daughters because of the restrictions. At the point when things were relaxing, and I looked forward to seeing them in a more ‘normal’ (whatever normal is) situation, here we are with indefinite restrictions imposed on us again.
Living near some popular locations on the coast I have seen huge throngs of people flocking to small villages and beaches. I go for my usual stroll and pass the visiting crowds. They are zombie like and seemingly totally oblivious to the fact that we are in the midst of a pandemic. I find myself being grumpy and even feelings of anger arising in me when they pass me by with no consideration for social distancing. It’s like ‘what pandemic’? I feel like I am in a different world to them.
I worry about the state of our country and the world as consistent bad news is fired at us from the media. I can’t bear to think of people suffering, people without jobs and money and the stress this causes for their families, especially children.
When there is a crisis we look to our leaders to help generate a feeling of safety and trust, and as much as I tried, now the government messages are so confusing, I don’t feel safe at all.
To exacerbate this increasing broodiness, the climate crisis issue is becoming more pressing. I live amidst beautiful nature of sea and woodland and an abundance of animals and sea creatures. Day after day I watched dolphins and whales in the sea with absolute joy. To my horror, days later, I witnessed one of 5 dead whales washed up on the shore in view of where I live and walk each day. They had been killed by becoming entangled in fishing nets. One of the whales killed was a calf and it’s mother has been spotted mourning around the spot the incident happened. It breaks my heart. All that effort in making a beautiful, innocent, giant, gentle creature lost to the greed and disrespect of creatures. I find it difficult being a human being sometimes.
I’m usually quite a buoyant lively creature, but I suddenly feel flat, empty and low. Its manifesting as a feeling of being lost and disorientated, which is something quite unfamiliar to me, so I find myself not knowing what to do.
The weather is changing, the evenings are getting darker earlier and I realise I am in the midst of change. We are in the midst of season change as Autumn begins to make itself apparent. The news is full of doom and gloom about a lockdown in Winter. I haven’t even begun to process that yet.
At this point 2 things happened. The first is an article in a newspaper which rightly reminds me (like I didn’t know already) that Scandinavians have a different attitude towards the Winter and the natural ‘lockdown’ that happens with shorter days and longer dark nights. The heading in the Guardian was “Dreading a dark winter lockdown? Think like a Norwegian”. It describes how research has shown that our attitude towards the uncomfortable things has an impact on our wellbeing. If we dive into the uncomfortable thing, whatever it is, with an attitude of negativity and doom and gloom then this will be detrimental to our mood. Yet if we change how we think and feel about something with more positivity then this has a more positive impact on our wellbeing and mood.
I realise it’s a bit difficult to think of a positive about the death of the whales, but I can see that if I remember the joy of seeing them alive and that I will see more, then this can change my mood. I can feel that just writing about it.
People who live in the far northern countries in Scandinavia have a different outlook towards being locked in more in the Winter. They get excited about the prospect of resting more, going with the flow of nature more and welcoming the invitation to hibernate. Just the thought of cosy nights in doors reading and creating by a warm fire, surrounded by the romantic light of candles, begins to warm my heart.
The second thing that brought me to my senses was a book I discovered, quite by accident, called ‘Wintering’. This book is about going with the flow of difficult times as if they were a winter in our lives. By accepting the challenging events in life where we sometimes have to hunker down and rest more and do things differently, creates a more spacious and compassionate place for us to heal. And as with all seasons, this too will pass as part of the flow of life.
And of course, all of this brought me back to my wonderful mindfulness practice where allowing and acceptance are importance parts of my practice. In our Level 1 Mindfulness Training we focus on allowing and accepting everything to be as it is with the kindness and compassion that comes from the Level 2 Training. How could I forget? Well it’s not that easy being human sometimes, that is why we have our Mindfulness Training to support us.
My mood is lifting now as I become aware of the softness that allowing and accepting brings. I can feel my body relax and my mood brightens, and just like my outbreath, my body and mind let go of all sense of holding on.
Are you aware of any difficulty or challenging situation you are facing and your attitude towards it? Is it possible to change how you think about it? I invite you to use your mindfulness practice to soften around it and allow and accept it to be there. I wish you well as you go through any Winters in your life.
I would love to hear your comments and feedback. Please let me a message after this post or email me personally at email@example.com
Jacky is running a new course – Finding Stillness in Movement – with Mindfulness and Qigong starting 6thOctober.
Jacky has contributed a chapter to the Mindful Heroes Book entitled “Turning Empathic Distress into Compassion – A Hero’s Journey for Family Carers”. You can hear an extract from the chapter where she talks about the results of her MSc Studies in Mindfulness on Compassion & Family Carers. You can download a free sample of Jacky’s chapter here.