I have spoken to many people who have felt that last week, in particular, was very difficult. That is not surprising as it was in and around the 40 day mark. This is a significant period in many traditions around the world which recognised isolation of 40 day and 40 nights as part of a transformative process. In that process we sought isolation and stripped away those behaviours and activities that filled our time and thoughts. In that isolation we are left just with our self and we have to understand who that is and whether we are comfortable with that.
While most of us are not alone (as we have physical or virtual company) we are stripping away many of our old patterns, habits, behaviours and activities. For many of us we have more time on our hands and less external activity to fill our day. In this silence and stillness we are left just with our self.
That can be unsettling and liberating in equal measure. For many of us we have the time to consider our activities and behaviours and see if we wish to resume them in a post Covid world. Do we want to do the same job in the same way? Do we want to go back to the same commute? Do we want to spend time with the same people? Do we want to spend more time at home or maybe more time away from home?
It seems counter intuitive but the challenge can often be that these circumstances give us choice. We always had this choice but how often did we really exercise it? In my experience many people fall into who they work for, who they spend time with, how they work and how they behave with others. This current Covid enforced time for reflection gives us the opportunity to re-evaluate all that.
We can react to this realisation by pretending we never had it and just carry on as before. Some of us will do just that getting back to normal as soon as possible (normal really meaning nothing more than familiar.) Many of us react by projecting all that frustration and uncertainty onto external events such as the virus itself, others’ behaviour, the media or politicians. We can get angry and frustrated that we will not be going on the holiday we want/need /deserve, that we cannot go to a gig, that we cannot get our hair done or meet our friends. Often, we are also angry (whether consciously expressed or not) that we have allowed ourselves get to a place where our own happiness is determined by external events. This disempowerment, this surrender of our own thoughts, feelings and emotions to the mercy of others is disempowering. We know this and are often deeply uncomfortable acknowledging it. This discomfort manifests in anger, tears and frustration with the external event.
Of course, we have a choice. We can decide to deal with this realisation with compassion by understanding gently how we came to this place. We can be grateful for this realisation and be determined to use this time to design a life that will deliver happiness and fulfilment, turning any regret we may have over time lost into energy to drive us on.
This freedom to design and create the life we wish for ourselves can be very new and unsettling. When we realise how little freedom we have exercised, how little we have actively designed our own life we can often be unnerved. The realisation that we and those around us are not well served by many of our behaviours and activities can be daunting as we begin to understand the capacity we have to change these.
This difficult time which has brought so much hardship and difficulty is also an opportunity to take the blessings that come with such change. We can control and determine extent to which we wish to take these opportunities and introduce new activities and behaviours into our lives. How do we exercise this freedom? The freedom to tell our boss we want to continue to work from home or the freedom to associate less often with certain people or more often with others, the freedom to engage or not engage in gossip, arguments or specific activities that no longer appeal.
Do you want to drift or take control of your life? This is an extraordinary and difficult time. It is also a time for extraordinary change in ourselves and how we manifest our freedom. Now is your opportunity, your time, your awakening. I suggest we put our intention into recognising and naming those things which no longer serve us. I suggest we are all better served, not by craving what we think we are missing or what we will do differently but by focusing on what we will give up, what we will stop doing. Into that space we will attract that which will serve us well.
For now, it is enough to sit with the discomfort and trepidation. As we start to accept the areas we may wish to change we create room for gratitude for those we wish to continue to experience. Be grateful for all the activities, behaviours and values in our life that serve us well and gently let go those that don’t. This gratitude is the key that unlocks our centre, gives us balance and helps us identify those things which are important to us and that we wish to focus on in the future