It's kind of a strange time of year to be entering into a season of rest. As the natural world enters Spring, it's season of creation and birth, it seems humanity is almost being asked to fully enter into the energetic themes of Winter, namely Rest and Slowing Down; Hibernation; Recharge.
Or maybe, maybe we are being asked to collectively birth something new... To heed that call most of us know so well yet ignore... That call from within to slow down, breathe deeper, not be rushing around quite so much. Most of us would travel or take vacation of some sort to rest, yet now we are going to have to learn how to rest in our own homes, with our own families, within our everyday circumstances. And whilst this is likely to present immense challenge, especially combined with the fears of illness, maybe there is also opportunity here...
One of the phrases I hear the most in "normal" life, is "I don't have time"... And here we are, facing weeks, months of Time. What are we going to choose to do with it? Do we come up with schedules detailing every minute and then get frustrated when they are not followed? Do we make no plans and let each day unfold however and then curse ourselves for our lack of productivity? Do we strive to find a balance between both of these extremes, trying to handle a pandemic "perfectly" and then beat ourselves up for not doing so?
Or how about we put the focus on how we treat ourselves and each other, rather than what we DO with this time? How about if we write a schedule and don't follow it we say "That's OK. It wasn't right for today. Maybe tomorrow." What about if, when we find ourselves getting frustrated, we stop, and ask ourselves why? Which version of "I am not enough" is my brain trying to trip me up with right now? Am I having unrealistic expectations of myself and others? Can I find any space to ease up slightly? Can I be a little kinder? Can I be a little gentler? Can I remember people are very, very scared right now - including myself?
And speaking of fear. We are ALL scared right now, and people respond to fear differently. The primal responses to fear are fight, flight, freeze, detach and tend/befriend. What do all these mean in the current global circumstances?
Fight - this is the people who are panic buying and hoarding. They want to come out on top and ensure their survival through fighting.
Flight - this is the people who locked down at the first signs of crisis. They ran, hid and stayed away.
Freeze - these people are stuck. They are the ones who are in the in between right now. Rabbit-in-the-headlights. If they just stay still and don't move, it will be OK. They are craving how it was, know things are changing, and yet they can't move either way. They are suspended between how it was, and how it isn't yet because we don't know what it's going to look like. They are somewhere between Flight and Detach. Just stuck there. Emotionally not moving. Frozen by their fear.
Detach - these are the people who cannot handle the severity of this situation and so are carrying on like nothing is happening and pretending it's all OK and will be over this time tomorrow. They appear a little strange, disconnected.. Smiling on the outside, but somehow not behind their eyes. They have abandoned ship, gone to the safe spaces either deep inside or far outside of themselves.
Tend/Befriend - this survival instinct used to apply when your tribe kicked you out. To survive, you would either need a new tribe, or to somehow befriend the natural world. In the modern world, the easiest example of this is the so-called "people pleasers" who do anything they can to please others and thus gain acceptance by Tend-ing to other's needs, and therefore Befriend-ing them. In this current global crisis, this can be seen in people jumping on various "bandwagons" to feel a part of (safety in numbers) and also, in some instances, putting themselves in danger under the guise of helping others, again, to feel a part of and gain acceptance.
Now, there is nothing wrong with ANY of these fear responses. They are intrinsic. A lot of us do not even know we are doing them. We don't recognise them as fear responses. By highlighting them, we can bring awareness to our actions and look honestly at our motivation for how we are responding. If you genuinely need some toilet roll, great, go buy it. If you made the choice to lockdown early, then good for you, use your time wisely and stay safe, but as more and more people end up in isolation, please just check your motivation for doing things such as online shopping and if you are able to SAFELY go to a store, then maybe consider doing it. If you are feeling stuck frozen or detached right now, that's OK. It's what your body/mind have needed to do to this point to best survive, but maybe just start with small steps. Acknowledge you're a little stuck right now. Focus on your breath, Try to come into the here and now and pull the focus out of what was, and what may be coming. Just breathe. Be. Here. Now. For this moment, and this moment, and this moment. And keep pulling yourself back. Your fluidity will return best in these kind of simple exercises. And if you're doing a lot of helping out, that's fabulous, but just check your motivation. Are you going to expect help in return from these people or are you doing it freely? Are you complaining about and/or resenting what you are doing? Are you wanting reward/praise for doing what you're doing? If so, that's OK, but to protect yourself from future pain, maybe just try and let go of expectations and only help out the people you genuinely feel good about helping. You don't have to destroy yourself to feel worthy of connection. You are worthy of it anyway, just because you exist. You do NOT have to earn it.
There needs to be no judgement or criticism in these self explorations. It is merely an opportunity to bring awareness to ourselves and learn how we respond to fear, then give ourselves a little choice in what we do/how we feel. ALL of these fear responses will benefit from slowing down, from taking a few deep breaths, counting five things in the space you're in - one you can see, one you can hear, one you can touch, one you can smell, and maybe thinking of something nice you could taste. Bringing the awareness back to the body, back to the senses helps the fear responses to scale down a little, to create a little more space.
These are unprecedented times. Again, we cannot judge ourselves or others for our responses. But, what we can do, is try to bring a little presence and awareness back into it. To support ourselves and each other during this global slowing down. To let ourselves and others ease into it. To give ourselves and others permission to feel scared, and feel frustrated, and to feel overwhelmed, but to try to express these emotions constructively rather than destructively. Writing fears lists, writing gratitude lists, drawing, colouring in, painting, stream writing, listening to music, playing music, dancing, yoga, meditation, time outside, breathing... There are innumerable ways to enter into this time of Rest. And maybe, just maybe we will find that in it, we are unknowingly birthing a new way of Be-ing... That actually, we prefer being slower, more local, less busy... Maybe, just maybe, we will keep creating that space and time in our lives, even when the chaos has passed.. Maybe... Just maybe... This IS Spring after all....