Back at the beginning or the middle of March, when it started to become clear that the COVID-19 virus was going to wreak havoc on our nation and force us into confinement, what were your first thoughts? Were you worried about the financial implications? Were you concerned about you and your family's health? Were you excited to work from home? All of the above?
Wherever your mind was at that time, in those moments...reflect on that for a few minutes.
Now that you are 30+ days into quarantine, is it what you expected? Have those thoughts and feelings changed?
I can honestly say, I've experienced a lot of unexpected side effects from this experience. Some bad, some good. All in all, it's been a learning experience. I want to share with you five things that I've taken out of my quarantine experience so far, that when this all started I didn't anticipate.
1. Increased gratitude
You really don't know what you have until it's gone.
I am more grateful now than I have ever been before. Not just for the roof over my head, food on my table, clothes on my back, etc., but for the simple things in life like human connection and freedom. I have more gratitude for my family and friends who have continued to check in on me and my family throughout this experience. I'm grateful for hearing their voices on the phone. I'm grateful for technology and the many abilities it gives us.
Gratitude has become my attitude. When I find myself missing things or people, I turn that sadness into gratitude and thanks. I am thankful that I have these things to miss. I am grateful for their role in my life before quarantine, and their role in my life during quarantine.
2. Finding oneness with others
Yoga teaches us about the oneness within all of us. It teaches us that beneath our attachments, labels, and ego, we are all the same, and we are all connected. I have found this to be true more than ever through this quarantine experience. I have felt this oneness physically, mentally, and emotionally.
I have found myself to be more in tune with the feelings of those around me. I can sense when others are struggling, despite the distance. I think this is because all of us are having similar experiences at this time. Although they are not identical, we are in this struggle together. My connections with those I love have heightened my sensitivity to their emotions. This empathetic reaction to the circumstances has proven to me that the connection between us all exists in a much more real way than I can even begin to explain.
If you have been feeling extra heaviness during this time, you aren't alone, and you may be picking up on the feelings of others as well which is exacerbating your existing emotions.
3. Self love and kindness
I have been much gentler with myself since quarantine began, in part because I realized that there are no expectations of me right now. Any expectations or standards that I'm holding myself to are all created in my mind. I have to be kind to myself and take it day by day, moment by moment.
If I'm able to accomplish a lot then that is great, if I accomplish nothing, then that's okay, too. This is one unexpected change that I definitely want to carry with me after quarantine. I spent so much time prior to this experience punishing myself for not accomplishing goals or resting too much, and now I see that I have held myself to impossible standards. I want to move forward and free myself from this self-regulation and negativity. I want to bring this love and kindness towards myself with me post-quarantine.
4. Deeper connection between mind and body
When quarantine first began and I had so much freedom and time, I pushed myself too hard. My body was quick to tell me to rest and I spent days on the couch.
I've began to listen.
I'm listening to my body when it is time to move, and time to slow down.
5. More awareness of attachments
Although I am more grateful now for the things that I no longer have or have the ability to do, this has also brought an increased awareness of how much attachment I have to things outside of myself. I am attached to things like stores, buying things, spending time alone, spending time with others, yoga studios, teaching yoga...and more.
All of these attachments only serve to hold me back from achieving higher levels of consciousness and enlightenment. If I want to progress in my life, spiritually, I need to really take stock of what attachments I should keep and what I can leave behind.
These are things I wasn't expecting to learn initially. I really thought that I'd just spend my day doing yoga and picking up new hobbies, but I've really found myself in this internal battle. Some days are great, some days suck. I don't know how else to put it. And instead of being able to avoid the shitty days by taking a spontaneous trip to the store or walking in my favorite park, I'm forced to sit in it. Sitting in it is also making me work through it. So even though it is hard, I am working through deep stuff that I would normally put aside.
If you are struggling right now, know that you aren't alone. If you need something, give yourself permission to take it.
Think about what side effects or lessons you want to keep in your life after quarantine and which things you can leave behind.