Islands of Calm – reflections on lockdown

The initial phase of surviving the pandemic threat to health and life itself is not over, yet we begin to face into the next phase as the very real consequences that this will have on the economy and our way of life become evident.

I recognise there have been times when I have got lost trying to figure it all out and become overwhelmed by the complexity of it all. Then there have equally been some moments when I have felt more in control.

It makes me think of being in the ocean, the waves crashing around me and the current pushing me from one place to another. Yet amongst the vastness of the ocean there are islands that give a sense of security and a chance to escape the surf for a moment or two.

Sometimes it’s important to stay in the water and recognise the power of something much greater than me. Fully experiencing its force gives me a chance to test myself, getting stronger for the next time I get pulled in. The more I get used to the turbulence, the greater capacity I have to see above the caps of the waves and see what is ahead of me. And not to stretch the metaphor too far there are islands of calm that appear on the horizon that can give a sense of direction. 

What I am recognising is that there are more opportunities to find a place of refuge than I sometimes realise. If I let the situation overwhelm me then it is too easy to miss the helping hands that are being offered. Keeping my head above water has really helped to take advantage of the support that is around me.

I’ve also noticed the resources I have at my disposal that allow me to build temporary or semi-permanent platforms from which I can recover. There are simple things that can make a massive difference and provide much needed energy to cope with whatever comes up next.

In practical terms this has meant staying connected with friends, family and work colleagues. Many of the routines are connection points have remained – they might have migrated to a virtual world and may be slightly more difficult to navigate but those crucial relationships are still there if I make an effort to stay engaged.

Those relationships help me retain a wider perspective, recognising a broader interdependent network. Being part of a wider community provides further energy to invest in those things that maintain my own inner strength.

Rather than just rushing from one thing to another I can savour each activity. A walk in the park is not a race to see how quickly I can get back but a chance to listen to the birds or observe the blossom develop on the trees. Cooking is not just about quickly preparing fuel but a chance to find creative ways to combine ingredients.

My meditation practice has been a huge help in finding those moments. Just finding the chance to pause, reflect and recognise what I can be grateful for. And who would have thought that one of the silver linings of this lockdown would have been the chance to bring others on that same journey with me, running a daily meditation session has really grounded me – a sense of purpose, an opportunity to learn, and a chance to share with others. 

All of these things, no matter how big or small, are the islands of calm that have made a huge difference to how I have navigated the lockdown so far. Looking to the future I know that the more of these moments I seek out, the less likely I will be swept away by the waves of fear, uncertainty and ambiguity that are inevitably still to come.

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