Right now, I’m trying to manage myself in this time of COVID-19 and sheltering at home with minimum contact with others, just like 99% of the rest of the planet. While for most people in the US, it’s been about 10 weeks of this, I’m really on week 14 as I was at home for four weeks with my broken shoulder before everything started to shut down. In addition to that, as I have been on an unstructured schedule for the past few years, I’ve had some practice at having to come up with a plan for my own time. This has gotten me to my own ritual structure.
I was also just on one of the many group online meetings through the Body Electric School last night, and the topic was resiliency. The speakers with Steven Schwartzberg and Jay Allen, and the focus was on how we can keep ourselves together in this time of unstructured schedules and uncertainty. Our lives and the situation in the world is changing so much, that right now we don’t have a lot that we can grab onto as secure.
This brings me back to the lessons that I’ve gotten from the teachings of Kelle Sparta in the differences between grounding and centering. Probably all of us have heard about grounding through guided meditations and such asking all of us to “feel the ground beneath our feet” and to just “be in the place where we are right now”. Unless we are currently in a dangerous situation (and most of us are hanging out in our living rooms), we are probably not in utter peril at this moment. It is coming to that realization that we need to notice what is happening right now, and to be in our bodies. Right now, in our bodies is one of the only things that is consistent for us. If we can realize that at this moment we are safe and that we have enough (even if we’ve lost our jobs and there are other scary things happening to us that we will have to deal with later), if we can realize the safety this second, it will help to calm us down.
The difference between grounding and centering is that grounding is connecting to something outside of us, while centering is connecting to our own core. It is realizing that I am secure in myself, even when everything is changing. As Kelle has said, you can’t ground if you are in a period of transition. The analogy of trying to stick a rebar into the ground while you’re on a moving train is that it’s only going to tear you up if you try to ground, so you need to trust in your own self and center. Granted, it’s tough. I’ve been through enough personal development, therapy, and other activities that have shook me to the core and make me want to not deal with my own crap. Only by looking at the dark side of what’s inside of me have I been better at dealing with this. I’m not perfect, yet I’m much better than I have been in the past.
Some of the things that I’m doing now to keep myself centered, grounded and partially sane is to have my own rituals that I try to incorporate into my days to keep me on an even keel. In the Body Electric call that I mentioned earlier, Jay Allen gave some suggestions of categories of actions that you can do, and they align pretty well to the actions that I’ve been doing for myself. I present below the categories of the rituals that I try to incorporate for myself daily:
- Self Awareness: Do I know what I’m feeling? What is my body responding to? What’s going on in there? Right now, it’s easy to be numb to yourself. It’s good to just stop and ask what’s going on in this moment with yourself. If you’re keeping to the focus on external events, you can miss what’s happening right now.
- Self Care: This is almost a cliche for people, but cliches happen because there is truth behind it. We need to take care of ourselves in so many ways right now, and if you don’t pay attention to it, no one else will. It’s too easy to get in a rush and not care for yourself. Some of the things that I do to make sure that I’m taking care of myself are:
- Shoulder Physical Therapy Exercises
- Cleaning my sinuses with a neti pot
- Taking my vitamins
- Going for a walk out in nature a few days a week
- Self Delighting: Right now, it can seem like we’re just trying to slog through life to get through this time, but where can we bring a little joy and pleasure into our lives? Springtime is here and trees and flowers are blooming everywhere here in the Boston area. Have you gotten yourself flowers lately? Taken a nice bath or done an at home facial? I have been taking a lot of virtual training sessions in somatic practices which focus on really moving your body and noticing that energy that you have there. When was the last time you danced in your living room and felt good about it? Are you playing music you like?
- Self Management: l like to think of this as how are you managing what’s going on with you to keep yourself together, and I separate these into three different categories:
- Psyche Management: How are you keeping your thought processes on an even keel? I incorporate meditation, journaling, and daily listing of what I’m grateful for.
- Life Management: Do you know what actions you need to do to keep moving forward? I’ve incorporated a lot of the lessons from the Getting Things Done philosophy of David Allen to keep track of things. I review my upcoming week every Sunday, write To Do lists for the next day every morning, and think about the longer term projects that I’d like to get done and what action steps I need to make that happen.
- Social Management: As I haven’t touched another human being in over two months, I have a real need to be in contact with others. I try to schedule times with friends to meet for a phone or video chat, and I also am involved with many weekly meetings, whether with my ukulele groups, support groups for Easton Mountain, Body Electric, and my church, and also random Zoom meetings and Facebook Live concerts.
These are the ways that I’ve found to keep myself together, and they have developed over many years, and will probably change in the future. You will need to do your own, but you might want to think about how you are incorporating all the categories I’ve mentioned above.
So, what are you doing to keep yourself resilient in this time? Let me know in the comments.