Life in Lockdown: Days XIV-XVI

kFriday through Sunday ~ March 27-29, 2020


How do we create a sense of stability, grounding, and balance in a time of global instability and uncertainty?


Through my doctoral studies in sustainability, yoga and meditation, and compassionate and nonviolent communication, I have learned that there are practices I can embrace so that I can train myself to respond rather than react to create what I need in any moment where I am triggered, say during the very stressful time of a global pandemic, for example.


I can say, I am feeling anxious, and I need grounding. Then I can think about what I can in the moment to try to create the shift from anxiousness to ease.


I may not have the capacity to create a sense of grounding on a global scale, but I can do the things that have become tradition for me to bring my system back to equilibrium. I can take a cleansing round of breath, practice yoga, sing.


I can practice the daily traditions that bring joy and balance to my life. Drink my coffee in the morning, take my dog for a long walk in the forest, vacuum the house because my dog is shedding like it is going out of style.


I am not in control of the bigger events in a complex world. But I can control the role I play in the everyday choices I make, the energy and practices I cultivate and embrace, the intention I set for how I want to respond to crisis and uncertainty.


This is essentially what I have been continuing to try to do during this period of lockdown. Seems like a very important time to delve more deeply into this practice. I can tell you that I have been very ungrounded and prone to frustration and crankiness during this time. I can feel all of the compulsions I work so hard to keep in check making me feel incredibly discomfort.


For people who do not struggle with obsessive compulsive tendencies, a period of lockdown because of a very contagious virus may be the first time to begin experiencing more extreme concern about cleanliness, germs, etc. For me, my “normal” way of being is to clean my keys and wipe down my phone and the handles of my ukulele case at least once a week, if not more. I ride public transport regularly during “normal” life, and I always wash my hands and pretty often will also change my clothes when I get home.


One irony of this lockdown is that the trains and buses are probably actually being cleaned on a regular basis, so it would be a far less stressful experience for me to take a ride, though of course there is nowhere really for me to go.


I have all that I need right here. We live right beside an enormous forest, where I spend hours every day, walking with our husky.


There have been plenty of positive moments in this strange, surreal time. Our doorbell rang the other day, and my husband and I both looked at each other like, Who could possibly be ringing out bell?


It was a friend of ours who we don’t get to see too often. She was riding her bicycle along the Promenade Verte (green trail) around Brussels and stopped by to say hello. We chatted at a safe distance through our open kitchen window, catching up and laughing together. It was almost a normal moment. Almost.


I still take photos of faces on trees and images that bring me joy from around our neighborhood. I am having to keep in check my desire to bring home the items people put out “a donner” (give away). When I do take something, I pick it up with an unused plastic dog poop bag. I fret until I can get home and wash everything…because…OCD…and then I wonder if it was worth it.


The thing with OCD is that it is an enormous relief to give in to the compulsion. I feel inordinately better once I have washed my hands and wiped everything down I could have possibly touched. This relief is only temporary, however. The window of comfort goes a bit smaller each time I give in to the compulsion. To keep it in check, I try to not give in to every compulsion, thereby building my immunity (if you will forgive me the pun during a global pandemic) and ability to stay calm even in situations that would normally cause me great stress.

But I digress. Basically, I am saying that I already do all those “crazy” things that in a time of a contagious virus now serve to keep me and loved ones relatively safe. I had to laugh when I saw my husband’s keys in the dry rack for the dishes.


Oh honey, I have been trying for years to get you to wash your keys, and all it took was a global pandemic to finally get you to see the light…


How are you keeping your system calm and collected these days? I would love to hear from you!

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