I am acutely aware of two things at the moment. Firstly, a continuous deep and penetrating silence around me. It is strange, beautiful and slightly disconcerting. Secondly, in direct proportion to the silence that has grown around me over the last 10 days has been an increase in the noise on my devices, to the point that my brain simply could not cope. I became aware of this noise dragging me in and along, as I became part of a collective angst attack. I woke one night with a startling realisation that my life had been hijacked. Not by Corona virus, but by collective anxiety and fear.
And so I breathed deeply again, surrendered into my now and chose to stop the relentless inflow of info in order to appreciate the silence. And to purposefully and intentionally continue to choose my own responses rather than to be swept along in a tide of heightened emotions.
This is the essential next step -
Stop the Noise.
Hopefully by now you are regularly taking a deep breath, and simply surrendering to what is unfolding. It is what it is. Then, choose your response. Just for now, just for today, choose to be quiet in the space of what is. If you are barraged by social media, virtual connecting, news reports and googling you will be overwhelmed and unable to make choices for yourself. You will be unable to row your boat as you choose, and you will be spat out somewhere downriver with no idea of your state of mental health, where you are or what is most needed in your life.
What we are going through will not be a sprint, it will be a marathon that will require our presence, courage and ingenuity. We can't run after what we have lost, and we also can't imagine the future. Remember, chaotic times are not linear. Small changes make massive differences. Right now we are best off guarding our energy, filtering the loop of input into our brains, and being quiet enough to choose our next step. Make simple goals for yourself each day. Don't worry now about the bigger picture - we will all create that together. Just make sure you are allowing yourself to be silent for long enough to think for yourself. What are you putting into the atmosphere around yourself today? Choose a healthy ritual that you can stick to daily and organise your day into a routine. Routines are very calming in turbulent times.
Do not sit and read whatsapp, FB and other media all day! It is turning your brain into an anxious fuddle that may settle into some form of PTSD.
And when you go to bed tonight and have that moment of vertigo when you think this is all too much and you don't know how you're going to get through this crisis please just once again breathe, surrender, and choose a thought that calms you down. Crisis leads to change. We are all changing and so are our values. We will hug our friends again and relish those moments like the best sweetest Lindt. We will get through this together, but whilst en route just take the one huge opportunity this situation offers that may not come again - the chance to be truly quiet.
In the words of one of my favorite Irish poets:
"...Become inclined to watch the way of rain When it falls slow and free. Imitate the habit of twilight, Taking time to open the well of color That fostered the brightness of day. Draw alongside the silence of stone Until its calmness can claim you.”