lessons from a lockdown

I used to think that Yoga was a great lesson in how to shift edges. Like the perimeter of an ocean bowl; I’d breathe into the layers or boundaries of my skin, recognising that here was a permeable layer, connected to everything. As the body expands and contracts, the tiny fluctuations ripple out and in, creating new edges, new tides, new softer and less defined ‘fences’ between my inner world, and that around me.

But last year there was a huge shift in my approach to Yoga. Suddenly, the priority was no longer about shifting these lines; creating new edges. It became apparent to me that what was of most reward, both on and off the mat, was to embrace space. It was less about the definitive edges. And more about how I was filling up the space.

Lockdown (a phrase I’m not all that down with, but for lack of a better word, I’ll use it here) has been a great wisdom provider.

We’ve seen how the world just can’t stop, be still, drop in or settle down. We were (in the UK) given freedom to stay at home, away from work (which, for the majority of us, is a chore we usually detest) and paid to just ‘be’.

But it didn’t prove so easy. And we learnt that people crave constant distraction. The world wide web lit up like a star-flooded sky. Internet news, chat rooms and gaming sites were heaving.

The inner sounds are difficult territories to wander; here are intuits that stir up deep forgotten wisdoms. And so, when the masses were forced to retreat from work, shopping, driving, do-ing….they sought distractions of other kinds.

Even we were resistant to just being in the beginning (only a little….and it was well hidden from us). Half empty paint pots finally became emptied onto walls; shifting colours of our inner spaces. We cleaned and cleared out the external physical places. Our abode is now crystal clean, beautiful and comforting to lounge in. We’ve lived in our current home for about 18 months now and it amazes me that such magic could unravel in rooms that were long overlooked before. Now, the energy is much clearer and feels right.

As days turned to weeks, we, too had to pause. Now that our home was balanced and restored, we had to allow space and time, for our inner to settle.

There have been many flashbacks; turning memories over in our heads and our hearts. Initially there was a lot of noise, but as seasoned meditation practitioners, we knew that the noise never subsides. It’s not so much about stilling one’s thoughts, as it is about knowing which ones to focus on.

And so, eventually, we found centre. The place where we could drop in, tune out, just ‘be’. With it all.

And some amazing lessons revealed. Much of them are what we share over and over here in our ‘reflections’. Tiny bite-sized interpretations, trying to put into words that which can never really be understood by human words alone.

Here are our top five lessons from lockdown. Keira’s first and then mine. They’re pretty similar. But it’s like a Yoga pose; they look the same to a non-observant seer, but every single time, the lesson is raw. Every single time is the first time.

They’re all the same lessons. It just happens that they are presented in different ways, over and over, so they are never forgotten. And they are received, Deep; deep into the space.

You must be empty in order to fill up.

Keira’s lessons:

Time is precious

So many evenings. That’s the first thing I noticed. All these evenings I’ve missed while I’ve been facilitating space. I missed the temperature drop between day to night; the silence as birds go to sleep, evening snuggles with my doglets and walks by the ocean as the stars began to shine. After a few weeks, I began to value every precious moment even more than I had done before. Even the constricted parts of deep anxiety that came. Every second became a moment to just savour. I’ve changed my practice to include so much more meditation; I eat breakfast one spoonful at a time and position myself in front of the garden to watch everything move. Nothing is still. Everything is speaking this soundless language. The darkness would sometimes be difficult, but even that’s been an opportunity for much to change. I journal when I want now; I really value this act of putting pen to paper, rather than typing onto a keyboard.

Time is money

We don’t need so much. It’s been a big wake-up call. If you start equating what you spend on material things into time, it becomes obvious that we don’t value our time as much as we should. This isn’t a rehearsal. Time is irretrievable. It’s important that we spend it wisely. Don’t waste it. Drink it up and spend it being present, as much as possible.

Currently I’m not seeking to explore other places. Usually we would travel to other places, take huge walks many miles away. But, right now, what is on our doorstep has become a map to new places. We’ve discovered new walks, new sights and sounds, all within walking distance from home. Everything we need is here.

I’ve spent months (near on a year) looking forward to visiting India, only to have it not happen; and that was incredibly difficult to deal with at first. But then I recalled what that trip meant to me; it meant time. And I can sense that here, now. It’s not about where we are; it’s about our perspective and appreciation of this moment we call ‘now’.

Do I really need that shampoo that costs two hours wage? Or can I forego it and use some essential oil and gain two hours out on the beach, with my family instead? And technology? I’ve got no time for it. Sure, it’s necessary for a few things, but now more than ever, I avoid all the sensationalism of the ‘news’ and choose to use my time in more beneficial ways.

Life is short

Italy was the start…then US….then UK.

We’ve lost quite a few people so far in our own lives. What’s happening now globally is a real awakening. It’s so painful and fearful for many.

Death and grief are always a reminder of our own mortality. Life is short. Too little. Such a waste to worry about what everyone is thinking, to live according to societal conditioning. I learnt this precious lesson living in India; watching women wash their clothes in muddy rivers and leave them to dry, flapping beside the road. Watching the street dogs work in their packs, either accepting newcomer hounds or mauling them as they entered their territory. Befriending the outcast and letting her sleep in my hut at night. When our mother asked whether it was the first of February, and then held on to pass away when it arrived a few days later. One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned over time; more now than ever, is that life is to be lived. You can be whatever, whoever and however you want to. But the only way to do it, is to remember that life is too short. No one cares what you’re doing. And if they do, that’s a waste of their own life.

Live in the moment

Don’t wait for life to happen. Make your dreams happen now. Don’t worry about the next moment, what’s going to happen or what has occurred. The only way to beat anxiety is to be here, now. It’s really difficult to master. Never as easy as it sounds.

Pause to adore the landscape (and listen)

The quieter we become, the more we can hear. Don’t let the landscape pass you by. Pause, look, listen, smell, feel. Do whatever you can to get into this moment and observe. Just like being on the mat, it’s valuable to take the same quality of attention out into all your moments. Even if you have a packed day, there’s always a few moments when you can just stop and really look at where you are; through the eyes and all your senses. Bare feet and naked skin help.