May 2020: Finding stillness in the midst of uncertainty“Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson)
Covid-19, the invisible, intelligent force, continues to change our lives in ways we would have never imagined. The initial storm seems to have passed – some of us have emerged more scarred than others – we are now faced what many of us fear the most: UNCERTAINTY. Uncertainty over the economy, employment, finances, relationships, and of course, physical, emotional and mental health. Humans crave security. We want to feel safe and have a sense of control over our lives. Worrying is seen as a tool to cope with this uncertainty – trying to predict the future gives us a short-lived, false sense of security. The virus has shaken our very first energy centre, the root (muladhara) chakra. Similar to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, regardless which level we were ‘on the pyramid’ pre-Covid-19, we have now been knocked down to the bottom of the pyramid. Our foundations are shaken. As a society we have lost our patience. Instant and real-time access to information and things has made us lose our logical perspective on the normal course of many things. We have become addicted to the expectation, someone somewhere at some point is going to fix things, including ourselves. The faster, the better. You snooze, you lose. This mindset has become toxic, creating groups of you and me, us against them, false identities and belongings. For those, lucky enough to be safe and not dragged to the frontline, lockdown forces us to be patient, to change our ways. Everyday things are not readily available anymore – patience, flexibility, and creativity are the new buzzwords. Many jobs have been furloughed. Those impacted face distress over an uncertain future. Especially hard hit are those who only identify themselves over their jobs.
The antidote to dealing with uncertainty is taking charge of the things we can control, shifting our mindsets away from negative assumptions and catastrophic predictions: paying attention to what’s happening right now, through mindfulness. Unfortunately, human brains are biologically hard-wired toward negative events, news, etc. for evolutionary reasons, helping us avoid danger. Psychologically, we give more attention to threats than opportunities. The good news is we can take charge and strengthen our ability to think more positively. By ‘focussing on the good’ we can strengthen neurological pathways that fire-up when we are happy. It takes practice and doesn’t come easy. During this uncertain time, we started to count our blessings, express kindness and gratitude towards others and ourselves. One shift already happened: intentionally taking in the natural beauty around us which has been right in front of our eyes all along, yet became invisible in our constant quest for belonging, achievement and success, external validation.Lockdown forces us to slow down and embrace stillness. This stillness can create uncomfortable feelings, internal chaos – the social animal wants to break free. The ability to find stillness can be challenging – it implies a state of being rather than doing. Most of the time our minds are busy doing something, processing thoughts, feelings, memories. By consciously connecting with our breath and meditation we are able to come back to our centre. Stillness forces us to look inward – facing our fears and shadows. During this period of disruption, difficulty and challenge we started to meet ourselves with kindness and compassion. The first step towards using any insight as springboard to create positive changes in the next chapter of our lives. Stripping away the layers we have put on over the years leaves us with vulnerability, our core values, passions, creative talents and clarity.
Without lockdown, many of us would have never slowed down and taken the opportunity to ‘zoom out’ to re-evaluate what’s most important in our lives. Even though life might not give us what we want, the true gift is life itself, with its ups and downs. Our job now is to be inquisitive and versatile, to adapt and embrace growth, visualize and create a (new) life (more) aligned with our values. Beauty is all around us, beauty is within us. Nature is our best guide – it takes its own course, events develop and conclude naturally. With patience, today’s seeds will be rewarded with strength and courage. Learn to pause and breathe…
Compassion – Connection – Community