“And once the storm is over
You won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive.
You won’t even be sure, in fact, that the storm is over.
But one thing is certain.
When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in.
That’s what this storm is all about. ”
taken from ‘Kafka on the Shore’, by Haruki Murakami
The strange times that we find ourselves in, during lockdown may feel like time has stood still, each day blending into the other and things beginning to feel stagnant and immobile. The virus may feel as though it has taken control of our lives and all things, we thought we had control over, away from us. This feeling of having no control of our circumstances can be terrifying and give rise to despair, anxiety, and panic.
In moments like this it is difficult to practice mindfulness and using breathing techniques. However, if we remember that we do have control over our minds and bodies, and practice some of that control, by focussing on our breathing we are already starting to tell our brains that we are going to be OK. The way to do this is easy.
The first step is to just concentrate on the breath as it comes into our bodies through our nostrils and leaves our bodies in the same way. The next step is to engage the left hemisphere of our brain by counting the breathes into our bodies from 1 to 7 and, then very gently counting the breathes out of our bodies up to 11. Just by doing this very simple technique can help us to begin to feel OK.
How does this work?
The technique of focussing on our breath initially is the distraction from the negative thinking. The use of numbers for counting enables the use of our left cognitive hemisphere of our brain. This allows us to think logically and put things into perspective. The two together help to anchor us back into the present moment. Once we are in the present moment it is important to keep things in perspective.
Any form of change can be difficult, the old pair of slippers are always difficult to throw out, but sometimes it is necessary, and we must accept that a new pair will have to be used. We have had to try and master change from the day we were born! Imagine how many adjustments to our lives we have had to make up to this point. So, change is not alien to us, but it is uncomfortable. Accepting that things are uncomfortable as we are learning new ways of being, can ease some of the anxiety. What ever we are experiencing at this moment does not mean that we have lost control of our lives, but that we are adapting to a new world, a new way of being and once we master it, things will seem better and manageable.
I came across the above poem and it resonated with me as I thought of the present circumstances, we are all facing. The poem for me is saying that with change we are becoming stronger, making us different to who we were yesterday. With this strength we are adapting to the different life changes we are having to continuously make each day. Change is happening all the time. We are becoming stronger all the time.