Easter in the time of Coronavirus will be a very different Easter for most of us. As the world descends into chaos around us and we are asked to isolate ourselves at home, without our usual celebrations, entertainment and distractions, with no large gatherings of family and friends, no holidays away or even trips to the beach, and with no movie theatres, cafés and shops open, what are we to do?
For me, the only way ‘out’ of this situation is ‘in’.
I can react to the misery and suffering in the world, rail against the current restrictions on my personal freedom, bemoan the fact that I cannot see my children or grandchildren in person now, nor do the things that I love to do in the world like walking on the beach, and generally get caught up in the circulation energy of the disaster that is taking place in the outside world at present.
But all of this causes chaos inside my body, as well as on the outside.
Or I can take the opportunity to go deeply in. I cannot go anywhere or do anything much in the outside world at present, but I can take the time to rest, to deeply nurture my body and my being, and to deeply connect with myself, which deeply connects me with everyone else.
Taking the time to stop
Most of us live life at high speed, focussed on what is happening outside us, and rarely take the time to really stop and just give ourselves the space to feel where we are at, what state we are in, and what we actually want and need. This Easter we have a great opportunity to do just that.
We can choose to go into withdrawal in our isolation, checking out on the couch, watching TV in our pyjamas and eating and drinking whatever we feel like, and most of us have probably had a go at that lately, but how do we end up feeling at the end of the day?
Instead of slipping into our usual habits, we can stop and let ourselves feel our chronic exhaustion, our raciness, our dullness, our anxiousness, our sadness, our fear, and allow ourselves to feel our bodies just as they are, without having to keep them going with regular doses of caffeine, sugar and alcohol to get through the day. And we can take the opportunity to start to live in a different way.
Now this may sound like a great idea, and simple enough to do, but it may not be so easy to begin with.
When I eventually gave up my last cup of coffee, I lay in bed with a cracking headache for three days. I had an ongoing battle with alcohol for years after I knew that I wanted and needed to stop drinking, and found it very difficult to live life without it to begin with. And my love/hate affair with sugar has been the longest relationship of my life, and one which only now, at the age of 58, I have been able to finally let go.
I can imagine that if I had tried to stop drinking alcohol and coffee and eating sugar all in one day, I would not have had a great day! But I knew for a very long time that these things were not great for me, and I wanted to be able to live without them, but I did not know where to start, because I needed them to keep me going, to fuel me through my busy days and help me to wind down at the end of them.
So why should we even be thinking about giving up alcohol, coffee, sugar and highly processed high-carb foods?
We love them, right? And think they are one of the great pleasures of our day, especially when we are stuck at home and there is little else to do.
But we don’t give alcohol, coffee, junk food or sugar to babies and young children, as we know how deeply sensitive they are and we know it would affect them and we don’t want to hurt them.
So why do we give them to us? We are still the same exquisitely sensitive beings, and they still hurt us in the same way.
And why do we then justify it by saying we like it or even that it is good for us, when in truth we know it is not.
I used to say I loved my coffee, alcohol and sugar, but in truth I knew I needed it, and at that time could not live without it.
Using the space we are offered at Easter
We can use the space we are offered at Easter to explore all of this, to feel where we are at and to find other ways of dealing with how we are feeling. We don’t have to do much right now, so if we feel tired, or even exhausted, we can rest, take naps, or just sleep, rather than drinking coffee or eating sugar to keep ourselves going. And if we feel like we need a drink, we can try drinking water instead, which will actually quench our thirst! Or at least try it first and ask ourselves why the water is not doing it for us, and what the thirst we are feeling, really is.
The key is to be willing to go deeper than the usual reaction of: feeling tired = have coffee and or sugar; and feeling uncomfortable = have alcohol or any food that takes the edge off how we are feeling.
If we are willing to feel uncomfortable in the short term, we can gently withdraw the props we have been using to numb us, dull us, and fill ourselves up, to expose and explore whatever is underneath the habits we have taken on to get through our day.
Why are we tired, exhausted even?
Why are we feeling uncomfortable?
What is it about our lives we need to take the edge off?
If we are willing to be absolutely honest about how we are really living and how we are really feeling, we can start to see that perhaps we are not feeling as great as we thought we were and that there are some things we need to deal with. And if we are willing to go through some short-term discomfort as we peel away the layers of coping behaviours we have taken on over the years, we may find something quite wonderful underneath it all …
Without the imposition of the outer world and the behaviours we use to cope with it, we may start to breathe our own breath, which takes us in, to the place inside us that remains pure and untouched by the world around us.
We may start to see ourselves as a finely tuned instrument and feel what makes us sing in harmony with the whole and what makes us feel off-key, off-kilter, separated and alone.
We could start to see ourselves as a living science experiment and feel what foods and drinks affect us, and how they change us, and what truly supports and nourishes us to live and move as who we truly are.
Using the space at Easter time to play
And we could use this space at Easter time to play with all of this, to see what works for us and what does not. Granted, if we have been used to eating and drinking and doing certain things, we may experience some withdrawal symptoms as we let them go, but if we persevere, we may come to feel lighter and lovelier without them and enjoy feeling free of the need to have them.
What if we were to live a day eating food that was light and healthy and did not make us feel heavy or dull or racy or damp?
How would it feel to live a day eating in such a light way and just drinking water? No caffeine, sugar, or alcohol in it, just fresh clean water when we felt thirsty?
What if we were to live a day just moving our bodies gently? No pushing, striving, driving harder than we were physically capable of, that strains and exhausts us, just in the flow of gentle movement that made us feel energised and alive.
How would it feel to live a day in this way, just honouring the body and what it needs, perhaps taking a nap if we are tired, going for a walk and enjoying fresh air outside, moving the body as we are impulsed to do, in a natural rhythm of work, rest and play?
And how would it feel at the end of the day to take this deeply cared for body to bed, settling in for a deep and restful sleep, allowing the body to be restored, recharged, so we wake feeling refreshed, vital and ready for another day?
We were more in tune with our bodies and their needs when we were children, but along the way we have taken on ideals and beliefs that we have to forever do things, and be a certain way to be accepted in this world. It can be exhausting to live like this, from ideals and beliefs, from the thoughts fed to our heads, rather than from the truth of our deeply sensitive bodies.
What if we were to just let all of that go this Easter and start to return to the simple pleasures of living in our bodies in a way that deeply cares for and nurtures them and allows us to rest?
These few days could just be the start of living in a way that is more true and sustainable when the times comes for us to return to work.
No matter how busy we are, we all have times when we can rest, and the way we spend that time can either support us, or make it harder for us to do what we have to do. For the quality of our being makes an enormous difference to our daily doing. If we bring a body and a being that is deeply cared for, rested and refreshed to each day, we are much more able to handle whatever comes our way.
The way we spend this Easter can be a deeply beautiful time of resting, restoring, and appreciating who we are and what we have … so that Easter in the time of Coronavirus does not have to be all about hardship and suffering, self-indulgence and recovery, isolation and separation, but can be a beautiful opportunity to go in … through the layers of the outside world that we have taken on over the years … to the heart of who we truly are … the place where we are all connected, all one … and enjoy all that is on offer there …