Sheltering In Place, Make Space for Yourself
Updated: Apr 1, 2020
The self-quarantining we’ve all been doing is making a lot of us stir-crazy. We may feel desperate to connect with others or just get out of the house. I’m right there with you.
This crisis is also an opportunity to connect with ourselves.
Amidst the distractions of everyday life, it can be easy to avoid the uncomfortable truths lurking just below the surface. Maybe your job isn’t giving you life; maybe there’s pain or grief that you’ve been Netflixing your way out of; maybe you know something isn’t quite right, but you don’t know what it is. When things get quiet, we encounter the sometimes-intolerable noise of our own internal dissonance.
Don’t drown that noise out! Use this time as an opportunity to get to know that dissonance. Plan yourself a mini-retreat. It can be for any amount of time you have available to you -- a week, a whole day, or even 15 minutes after your kids go to bed. Put your laptop and your phone away, and let the people around you know what you’re doing. Use whatever methods work for you -- for me, it’s meditation, journaling, reading, and taking walks when that’s possible. The key is to turn down the external noise enough that you can really hear yourself.
Once you start doing this, you will hear the chatter that’s constantly going in your head. Loud parts of you may be pressuring you to follow their will. You may hear criticism in the voices of relatives, bosses or others. In these times, your hypervigilance routine will be in full swing: If I could just buy one more thing, move one more stock, I’ll be on top of the crisis. But your truth is not found in the churn of your mind. Use this time to get out of your head and into your heart.
As you connect with your felt experience, you will start to strip away the scaffolding you’ve built to support your everyday life. In the quiet of solitude, we begin to reveal the tender parts of ourselves we’ve built elaborate mental scaffolding to protect. As we touch these, we begin to feel raw and exposed. That means what you’re doing is working. Keep going. Stay with your experience. Nap if you need to (works for me at least). And if it gets overwhelming, connect with a trusted friend or support professional.
If you stay with it long enough, you may begin to find your deepest truth -- your values, your felt experience, your inner wisdom and your resourcefulness. You’ll know it when you feel it.
Don’t let yourself believe that you can’t do this. Even if you have kids, obnoxious roommates or demanding jobs, even if you have “limited” space, there is always a way to make space for yourself. Let those around you know your intentions and most will make efforts to accommodate you. If possible, invite them to try this practice alongside you (but not with you, unless you’re really aligned like that).
Crises often make powerful inflection points. Use this one wisely to set a course for your future rooted in who you really are at your core.