Whether you’re alone or sharing your living space with friends or family, the strict measures to control Covid-19 have left many households in a state of stress and anxiety. If you’ve tried all the usual tips for keeping sane but life is still unbearable, this unusual guide is designed to help you overcome the emotional and mental strains of lock-down.
Generally, new situations are by definition unfamiliar. Such situations require time for investigation and understanding. This can only be done in the present. Obsessing with the past and future leaves no time for the present. Discovering new things about yourself is a time-intensive project. The lock-down is a unique opportunity for everyone who is curious about unfamiliarity to delve into the present, to investigate, to be open to new discovery.
‘Learn to stop consuming mental noise and become a consumer of peace’ – Satyananda
You spend your life working hard and saving up to enjoy unlimited leisure in retirement. Or so the story goes.
But, thanks to lock-down, millions of people are rudely awakening to the realisation that just a few weeks of being stuck at home with loved ones and little to do can feel quite unbearable. Feelings and emotions can get raw and loud, then when the usual tactics for coping and distraction stop working, tempers fray and emotions rise beyond our and our loved ones’ ability to cope.
Bad feelings tend to happen around things we don’t like – ranging from other people’s personal habits that bug us, to random thoughts and fiercely held beliefs that bug other people.
This is all normal, but it bodes badly for our future retirement and we want a solution right now during lock-down.
So why are feelings are so difficult, and is there is a coping method that is guaranteed to help us deal with unruly emotional feelings?
From the familiar to the unknown
Feelings intensify when you try to ignore them. The same thing happens when you try to push them away. You feel worse when you try to reject your feelings.
Feelings are an amazing tool designed protect us from the dangers of an uncertain future. Usually the feeling subsides when the trigger goes away, then we can relax again. Being bombarded with information 24/7 is unnatural and it leads to hyper vigilance, even in our home environment. When unwelcome feelings arise – anger, desperation, self judgement, our hyper vigilance remains active. The mind normally ends the red alert when the danger goes away, but when we are hyper vigilant that doesn’t happen and our feelings can atrophy into apathy, depression and even self-abandonment.
It’s important to pay attention to your feelings. Don’t brush them away. The old adage also “don’t scratch it, you’ll only make it worse” is true for unpleasant feelings too. If you give them too much attention, they can escalate rapidly.
When feelings come, honour them, welcome them into your heart. Even if it hurts at first, just allow the feelings to be. They won’t kill you. In fact, if a feeling is too great, challenge it. Say out loud, “Come on, is that all you’ve got? Try to kill me. I bet you can’t”.
Stay focused on allowing the feelings to have their space. Don’t label the experience. Don’t give feelings a name. Let the feelings come. Don’t resist. Stop rejecting. Your heart is strong enough to cope.
‘Anxiety does not come from thinking about the future, but wanting to control it’ – Khalil Gibran
If the feelings are still feel unbearable, and when every technique you have learned brings you no relief, you are ready to look into the unknown. Deep in your heart there is an abiding love that never gives up and never abandons you. To meet your heart is very simple. The next time you are challenged by an overwhelming feeling, give up the intention to control anything. Give up mental navigation. Let go of who you think you are and surrender to your heart. The path to your heart is your breath. Sit quietly and focus on nothing but your breath for ten minutes.
When you surrender to your heart, there is a small death of the person you thought you were. Go past the resistance, past the thoughts, past the ideas, past the future and past the past. The authentic heart is love, acceptance, peace supreme.
If you continue to fight your feelings, everything that you don’t want will continue. Not because of what happened in the past, but because you keep pushing the unwanted feelings away, like a huge snowdrift. Do the opposite – pay attention to them. Let go of your need to control the feelings. Invite them in. Feelings come and go, but the heart abides in peace through thick and thin. Welcome home.