The Lockdown has awakened something in all of us privileged enough to sit at home and luxuriate in boredom. A time to reassess our past journey as an individual and as the collective humanity, and ask ourselves whether we want to be in auto mode or clear out some cobwebs of congestion. A big chunk of self-development reflections is related to finding a way to stop reacting to situations but start listening to life’s message. Of course, it’s not exactly the most natural way of being, but it certainly feels like a phase in life where if you keep doing what you always do, then you will keep getting what you always get.
Our repetitive patterns that can breed internalised toxicity range from every day, corrosive habits such as how we interpret the behaviour of others, how we speak about ourselves or others, how we treat our physical shell or how we respond to a professional or personal crisis. Some of the ways in which I’ve tried to utilise such long days of confinement has been to incorporate positive patterns of behaviour and try to convert it to short term goals, then slowly expand it to long-term goals at every goalpost arrived. Think in days, not months. So far, it has brought rich internal rewards and makes me believe in the possibility of transformations again.
Spiritual engagement. Daily engagement with reading or listening to thought leaders about the ways in which we can cleanse our selves of self-harming thoughts and ideas and transition to more empowering ways of internalising the world. To trust in the bigger journey of our existence, and that investing all our efforts to achieve our goals should be balanced with serenity of acceptance to outcomes beyond our control. So far it’s been keeping the thought process running with more clarity and calm.
Strength training. I loathe most forms of cardio and yoga has been the only form of exercise I’ve ever been able to keep up more consistently. But the past seven weeks or so I’ve managed to slowly build a practice of strength training. It started with once for 20 minutes a day and eventually moved to twice a day, 40 minutes each. At first I thought I’d give it a week of daily practice, then I moved it to two, then I moved it to a month and now I’m moving it to two months. The benefits are constant endorphins, inner empowerment and a sense of possibility for the many miracles we can accomplish. It’s useful to move away from just the aesthetic rewards but focus on developing inner grit and character.
Nutrition. Cut out sugar, red meat, excess carbs. It initially killed to not snack so much during all this time at home but now I feel so safe and energised. It’s frightening how what we consume can have such a direct impact on our emotional journey. A friend also sent an article about how sugar ages us, inviting sagging skin and diminishing elasticity and that is definitely a deterrent. Like the strength training, it’s something I have to ‘coach’ myself into achieving in short term goals and slowly let it collect it into months of habit. Again, the orientation is not only on the aesthetics but the way in which keeping my food clean elevates my mood and sense of well being.
Substituting unhealthy reflexes. Ultimately, all of these efforts are about trying to contain and limit negativity breeding in my pores. It’s not easy and pitfalls consistently pepper the journey. But there are a few tools I use to keep ‘substituting’ any unwanted thought patterns intruding my mind. Shifting toxic vocabulary and cruel admonishments to more self-loving ones. On social media, I actively seek out inspirational figures to absorb their perspectives. I try to avoid reading online rants or share and forward any message that is not about lifting the human spirit. Give myself a time limit as to how long I allow myself to indulge in worry (if it used to take three days a week I try to confine it now to one day a week). And of course, the ultimate troika of keeping my days in spiritual engagement, constant physical action and good nutrition all bolsters the soul upwards and keeps the march forward with enhanced belief and trust in the power of Creation.
May we all come out of the other side of this pandemic more enlightened and forgiving of ourselves and others.