I read a well-written Post on a timely topic. The advice: “How to stick to the positive health and beauty habits we’ve adopted, post-pandemic”. The Blogger [ kikacarvalhocosta.com ] observed that many of us are using this time to focus more on self-care. Personal Lessons Learned from Covid-19. That feels true for me: the simple act of throwing together a balanced meal at home, versus beelining to the local Taco Challenge downtown — on-hold indefinitely now. Little things impacting my mood and outer glow: drinking more water and getting more sleep. Moving through the day more slowly. Stretching. It feels weird that these new habits have been forced on me. Weird I didn’t choose them willingly but grudgingly gave-in. Big difference. Which is why it’s such a great question to ask: whenever this thing is over, will our self-care habits go back to being what they were? Did I need to be confronted by a fatal illness in order to focus on healthier habits and personal growth?
Pre–COVID, daily distractions that lead me away from what I know I should be doing were pretty constant. Skipping my workout at my friend’s suggestion of a decadent brunch at that quaint little place outside the city. Going shopping for new stuff, instead of purging my closet of clothes I haven’t worn in a decade. Why would I ever – unless forced to – choose to stay home when I have the time and resources to travel the world? But recently, my inner-world has begun nagging me. I feel resistant, at first, to the idea that this could be a positive outcome of quarantining. Partly because, over the years I’ve gotten used to ignoring my deeper motivations. Not thinking about my “Why”, as so many practitioners refer to it. If you work in an organization or with teams, only the very brave (or inexperienced) would try an ice-breaker that asks each person to Stand Up and Tell Us About Your ‘Why’. Most people would rather spend hours stuck in a subway tunnel than have to think about why they do what they do.
One of my favorite people, Dr. Bruce Lipton, began his career as a biologist. His interests led him to an extensive exploration of our mind-body connection. I’m totally oversimplifying here, but Lipton believes that the driver for everything we do – bad or good for us – is Emotion. He shares proof (the science of which can be mind-boggling, but worth reading) that our feelings affect our “blood chemistry”, and so, our wellbeing. I’ve heard it before, of course. But now — with plenty of time to actually read and think about such things – I’m more aware of just what that means. But the landscape of my feelings these days feels unfamiliar. Like I was dropped into a foreign country, with no phone or GPS and not knowing the language. I suddenly realize how dependent I’ve become on my ability to navigate my outer world, but not my inner world.
When I first landed in Tokyo, some years ago, I went into a kind of shock. Not being able to understand what anyone said, or the signage around the city, was disorienting to say the least. My gut reaction was panic and discomfort. My instinct was to cut short my time in Japan. But after a few days, it became less important to speak and read beyond the basics, and more important to understand my own reason for being there. I’d been wanting new experience; to feel out of my comfort zone; to be ‘shocked’, in a way, by a new reality. After a week in Japan, I began to relax more into Not Knowing; into an understanding of what that discomfort was all about, at its core.
I feel that way now, about my own Self. I’ve relaxed into a new routine; I’m re-learning the ‘language’ of my own heart; feeling less anxious now, about exploring how and why I’ve allowed certain habits to distract from what truly serves me In this exact moment. “Cleaning out my closets”, actually and metaphorically, has reminded me of why I always travel with a single carry-on bag: all I really need are the basics; the essentials. I’ve gotten crazy and “overpacked” with stuff I don’t need. Habits – like a heavy overcoat in the tropics – that just don’t work for me and only weigh me down. This unexpected, extended trip ‘within’ has given me time and space to appreciate – on a whole new level — what it means to return ‘home’.