Yoga. A mind-body practice enhancing self awareness. Body awareness is an inseparable aspect of embodied self awareness realized in action and interaction with the environment and world.
Quarantine has been an interesting experience.
A new reality. Social distancing. Digital communication and virtual connections.
Life on pause. A moment of fruition or a setback? How do you perceive the new normal?
I remember the first days of the quarantine. I was excited. I finally had a golden opportunity to resume and complete all the unfinished projects I'd been putting off.
I had a plan. I scheduled my days.
The to-do lists were endless. From clearing out my home of clutter the Marie Kondo way to honing in on my personal trainer certification studies, from refining my photography and art to reuniting spiritually with my mental, physical, and emotional self.
It was perfect. I felt inspired. I felt connected to my purpose.
It's now been more than 40 days since my self quarantine started. I still feel inspired. Even more so than before. I feel clear in my intentions and goals. I've crossed off a lot of the things on my to-do list. Some parts of me feel lighter. Other parts feel blocked and heavy.
I anticipated the quarantine to not only be a time of rebirth and awakening, but also a time of distress, uncertainty, and discomfort. I knew past issues, fears, and insecurities would come up.
The element of surprise wasn't there when I experienced my first breakdown. I went through two more afterwards. Even though I anticipated those moments of emotional release, I couldn't make them less painful or pass quicker.
I miss punching and kicking the 100 lbs heavy bag at the gym. We know each other well. We've had some heart to heart moments. It just feels so good to let go sometimes. Air kicks and shadow boxing at home is okay. It helps me maintain form, but it's just not the same.
So, I've had to redesign my at-home workout plan to keep myself interested and motivated.
I've naturally been more drawn to yoga during my quarantine. It's been strangely similar to kickboxing in helping me release a lot of tension and move around some of the stagnant energies and unresolved emotions. Granted, they're completely different types of release, but nonetheless, I feel released. :D
In this time of change I've definitely been working on enhancing my awareness of my physical and spiritual worlds.
I've been learning things. Not necessarily new things. They're more like realizations, revelations. I've always known about them. But I haven't really spent essential time delving deeper. Now, it's as if a light has been shed upon all that I needed to see to be able to move forward.
As an introvert I'm used to spending time in self isolation. I remove myself from situations and places often, by choice. But I haven't spent this much time with myself, ever. So, it's been humbling to say the least.
And I wanted to share my thoughts because I felt like it. I've spent way too much of my life overthinking to the point of talking myself out of taking action. I don't want to think right now. I want to write.
With yoga there is a lot of reference to flowing, shifting your mind to higher awareness and spirituality, letting the natural rhythms of the Universe speak through the body, mind, and spirit, taking you where you need to go.
But what does go with the flow really mean? Is it always a good idea to go with the flow?
You can go with the "flow" and go with the "Flow."
Let me explain.
There are two ways to look at it. From the perspective of our personalities and relationships and/or from the perspective of aligning with the Flow of the Universe.
When our ego tells us to go with the flow it's usually to keep us in our comfort zone and to avoid discomfort or conflict. It comes from a place of not wanting to rock the boat or appear selfish.
You're going with the flow, but if you look closer, it's someone else's river you're flowing in. It's most common among people-pleasing and conflict-avoiding types.
It's a dangerous kind of flow because it's associated with a loss of self, a feeling of emptiness. Trying to fit in the flow of others or watching others' lives unfold, all the while becoming a bystander in your own life.
Then, there is syncing with the natural intelligence and Flow of the Universe. It means understanding and using spiritual laws in your life to co-create based on the higher needs of your soul.
Going with the Flow is about creating awareness and space for personal growth by tuning in to what messages and guidance you receive and honoring what you hear.
Going with the Flow may ask you to overcome fears, take risks, and let go of the need to control in order to grow and evolve into a certain type of human being.
I realized during my self quarantine that I've been going with the flow a little too long. Focusing on work, thinking about the future, and planning what's next, I've forgotten to take time to check in with myself - here, right now.
What am I feeling? Why am I having these thoughts? Is what I wanted 2 years ago still what I want now? Is what I want really what I need? Where am I going? What am I doing?
It's not a fun place to be when you look around and notice you've been missing the big picture. When you look in the mirror and wonder where you've gone - how did you get lost? When you sit quiet and notice your inner voice has been silenced.
It's easy to fall into self-pity and despair, even depression. But in your awakening there is wonderful opportunity for growth.
"Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror. Just keep going. No feeling is final."
You always have a choice - to keep floating or learn how to swim.
Because I am both the people-pleasing and conflict-avoidant type, it's really easy for me to lose myself in others' agendas if I don't practice awareness and self reflection.
I'm happy that I've made progress since two years ago when I decided to really start challenging the beliefs and fears of my past that were no longer serving my self-refining journey.
It's not easy. Some days I feel like I'm back where I started - lost, confused, confined. I'm learning to perceive breakdowns, failures and disappointments as learning opportunities and essential parts of personal growth and development.
You can't really help others if you don't help yourself first.
So, make it a priority to check in with yourself regularly. Take care of your mental, physical, and emotional health. It's important.
There are many tools out there to help you cultivate self-awareness. One that I use to keep myself in check is goal setting.
I know that every health and wellness blog talks about setting goals as a way to move towards your dreams and create the life you want. There's a reason for that. It works.
I'm going to jump on the bandwagon, since I'm technically a health coach, and lots of people ask me how to make their dreams come true. Plus, I've seen goal setting change lives.
Goal setting is about figuring out what you want in life, your long term goal. And most importantly WHY you want it. You take your end goal and break it down into smaller short-term goals. Short-term goals make your long-term goal more attainable. Then, you take those short-term goals and break them down further into 2-3 action steps that blend in with your type of lifestyle, personality, and what you want to achieve, so that they don't feel like a chore or another thing on your to-do list. Action steps help you keep track of your progress.
Even after I've set goals and made a plan I can still get lost. It's okay. It's part of the game of life. Remember, no feeling is final. Be kind to yourself and others.
Go with the Flow but don't go with the flow.
Quarantine to introverts is like a marathon we've been preparing for our whole life. I'm totally prepared. Nothing out of the ordinary for me, except, I never thought I'd say this, but I miss seeing and talking to humans.
I have social anxiety. No one believes me. Which I guess is a good thing. But that doesn't make interaction with humans any easier. It's just that I've worked really hard to get out of my shell, and may I add, I'm still work in progress.
I'm a kickboxing trainer and a photographer and predominantly human, so human interaction is part of existing. Therefore, I'm constantly having to push the boundaries of my comfort zone.
When I spend too much time around people, I start to feel uneasy. I need to recharge. I need time alone. I go to nature for self-reflection.
Sometimes my anxiety can be so severe that I can mistake self-isolation for self-reflection, meaning I can distance myself emotionally and physically from people who love me, thinking I'm recharging when in truth, I'm letting my fears and insecurities push away those who care most.
In contrast to my social anxiety and self isolation practices, I really like meeting new people. It takes me a while to relax and trust, but I'm learning how to enjoy the company and make the best of the experience. Not always successful. Key word here is learning.
It's a story within itself, but it's safe to say that I've been practicing social distancing way before the quarantine. So, it isn't something new.
However, I realized that as much as I like to believe that I'm better off alone, it's not completely true.
Connection is necessary. Human interaction is equally as essential as meditation and self-refection for our mental and emotional well-being.
No matter how much discomfort I feel in social settings, it's mostly in my mind, and it cannot compare to the euphoria of feeling connected to someone, feeling like you are part of something bigger.
Fun fact. One of my primary love languages is touch, so I physically need human interaction as well. I know, it's a mess.
It was that first Zoom video call I had with my team at Sephora that reminded me of the value of social interactions, and not to take people and experiences for granted. In a strange way it also reminded me that I don't have to do everything alone.
I obviously need to work on my trust issues and a million other things. But it's been helpful to slow down and and see where I stand.
The pandemic has been one of those humbling experiences - it's not about me or you; it's about us.
There is a movement in the digital world, called GOLOV-20, which was initiated by Dr. Joe Dispenza, and aims at spreading love into the world.
When you think of someone you love and you think about all the things you love about them, you begin to feel the energy and frequency of love inside you. Research has shown that when you go into the heart, the love you feel can influence people non-locally, meaning they begin to feel loved, even if miles away.
Here's the video explaining GOLOV-20. There's also a nice short meditation you might want to try.
"Love bonds and connects."
Even if you are separated from your loved ones during this time, there is always a way to give love and feel loved.
Thoughts are things. When you have a thought you immediately have a physical reaction in your body as well as an emotional reaction. We have the belief that events affect us, but it's the meaning we attach to the event that affects us more. We're all reacting differently, which means we're interpreting things differently.
We can't change the pandemic, but we can change what it means. You have to think, what does this mean to me? Can I change the meaning? What new things can I learn, do, create? How can I help myself and others? It's not easy. It's not about ignoring or denying what is going on in the world, but it's about making the best of what you have, extracting the good and value out of any circumstance to improve your life.
That's a lot of rambling. Like I said, I just wanted to write.
How have you been dealing with "the new normal"? What have you been learning? Feel free to ramble away in the comments. :D