Lockdown 2.0 may have been sold to us as a much less intense experience. Let’s not forget the trial by fire which was home-schooling back in March. With schools remaining open, many of us are maintaining the routine we have almost become accustomed to, but it is not without its stresses. We’ve been through the initial overwhelm which came with the isolation, the unnatural distancing, and the distinct lack of hugs. This time has a different hold over us with the wary excitement of what will be a hugely different Christmas coming towards us. The uncertainties can take hold. The fear, the worry and simply not wanting to accept how life has noticeably changed this year. But living under negativity is not good for us.
While it’s fair to say we’ve been handed an incredible gauntlet this year, how we reach the end is up to us. We can feel robbed, cheated, hurt and angry over losing time, days, moments, and hugs or we could put this energy to much better use by being kind and supportive and accepting of not only the situation but of ourselves.
Under the heavy cloud of the pandemic, how can we turn inward, slow down, embrace the season and be compassionate? Not only how, but why?
Even in a pandemic life is busy, hectic, and loud. With all of this speed, we can easily lose ourselves in the race. Turning inward allows us to find that person again, understand them and listen to what they need. We are the only ones who will know what is truly going on inside our minds and hearts. But we need to listen. By sitting still, breathing in a very aware way, and listening to the feelings, thoughts, and needs which arise in us, we are turning inward. By using our consciousness we are opening ourselves up to understanding who we are, what we need, our thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and the sensations we often miss.
How Can I Turn Inward?
Turning inward in many ways can be a mindful and meditative practice which you may already be familiar with. Here are a few steps to help you find your inner self.
- Sit still, comfortably in a chair or on a yoga mat in a meditative position with your head, shoulders, and torso in alignment. By sitting still you are encouraging your mind to also be still.
- Become aware of your breathing. Maintain deep breaths which are steady and a rhythm which is not forced. Concentrating on your breathing will allow your mind to calm.
- Focus on your thoughts. Your feelings. The sensations which cover your body.
- Sit with these thoughts and feelings and allow them to provide answers to questions about yourself you have often wondered.
- Turning inward is being consciously aware of yourself, your feelings, your thought patterns, your beliefs and needs and positively acting on, appreciating, valuing, and pursuing them. It is about listening to and understanding yourself routinely. Frequently turning inward to listen to your mind and soul.
The list. The demands. The constant travelling. The always having to do something. This was life pre-pandemic. For some it still remains this way as breaking habits and structured routines can be difficult. Achieving in 2020 is not a pre-requisite. In fact, it’s almost as though 2020 is asking us to slow down. When have we ever been given the occasion to welcome slow living?
We have been given an opportunity like no other this year with lockdowns and restrictions. We have the opportunity to slow down, relinquish the list and put the foot on the brake. From physically moving slower, to being more conscious of our online activity, we have slowed down. From limiting our usual activities to pursuing more thoughtful endeavours we have inadvertently incorporated a slower life.
Slow living, also known as mindful living or simple living, is not new but many of us skipped past the idea on the whirlwind of our busy lives. Slow living is about living a more mindful and deliberate lifestyle, being grateful for what we have, and conscious of what we buy, use and reuse. It is about disconnecting with technology and reconnecting with the people in our lives. Letting go of the fear of missing out and turning inward.
Embracing the Season
Autumn and Winter. You either love them or loathe but there is nothing more refreshing than embracing the season we are living through no matter the weather. We are coming through some of our darkest days living through the tunnel which is the pandemic. And we are in the dark about whether or not we are coming out of the tunnel. But that does not mean we are living under a black, heavy rock. It may be winter, but winter is a dynamic season full of hope and joy.
Taking hold of these fresh, crisp winter days gives us the opportunity to embrace nature in all of its raw beauty. The world is a little different in winter but no less stunning. As we take to spending time bundled up in hats and scarfs we can take to forests and deserted beaches for our walks, listening to what nature offers us in all of her beauty. If the outdoors is not your thing, the season gives us the chance to take hold of slow living. Embracing the cold and the darkness by staying indoors and spending quality, warm and comforting time under blankets with loved ones and board games.
And remember the winter sun shines just as bright as the summer sun, sparking intense colours and light into our lives.
Self-care and Self-Compassion
In all, with schools remaining open, working from home becoming normal, and maintaining the belief that we will find our way through the storm, we have the chance to peel back the layers of our lives during Lockdown 2.0. Ultimately, the world is telling us to be kind. To our neighbours, our friends, our family and especially ourselves. Being kind to ourselves is the beginning if we are to be kind to others.
Self-care, self-compassion, and self-love is essential every day of our lives. Avoid that critical voice, don’t judge yourself and simply be as kind to yourself as you would your best friend.