3 weeks ago

What I Learned During Lockdown

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Having spoken to some of the most respected healers and intuitive therapists over the last few weeks, the wellness writer offers her own learnings …

Reflecting on the past weeks, my story unfolded in a similar fashion to the five stages of grief identified by psychiatrist Elizabeth Kubler-Ross in her 1969 book, On Death and Dying. These stages – denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance – are also applicable to other major events like divorce, job loss, illness and of course, global pandemics. 

For me, there was denial at the early stages (this is nothing to worry about, my life will continue as normal etc), followed by anger and sadness (not sure about the bargaining?), until I reached a level of acceptance that this major upheaval was absolutely necessary in our crazy world. I knew with the level of greed and consumption in recent years that something had to give, but I honestly didn’t think it would happen in my lifetime. As Fiona Arrigo told me, “Mother Earth has put us into our rooms like naughty children to think about our actions. But in our rooms we can build hope.”

American grief expert and author David Kessler, added a sixth stage to Kubler-Ross’s paradigm: Finding Meaning (also the title of his latest book). This is where my lockdown journey has rested and has helped me find some peace within myself and some hope for the future of the planet and for my children.

Listening to numerous surveys cited in the media since lockdown began, it is clear that this “new normal” is one of many people exercising more than ever before, being more productive in work, while also spending more time with their families. What’s not to be hopeful about in this? Not to lessen the grief suffered by too many people who have lost loved ones and livelihoods. 

African-Irish “Sangoma” John Lockley believes that this pandemic is one of the greatest teachings of our time, as we are part of nature but have lost our way. To re-harmonise once again with Mother Nature we need to befriend our fears, befriend our shadows and befriend death. “Our ancestors could teach us a lot,” he relates. “Maybe we should think about what they would do if they were with us now. They would pray; they would spend time outdoors calling on nature; they would have faith and courage too – all these things natural disasters teach us and if we don’t pay heed, we succumb to panic and fear.” 

In Arrigo’s words: “We are the dreamers of the new and the more we rest, the more we dream and at some point these prayers and visions will undoubtedly create a new world. Midst this terror, there is great magnificence, so let’s dare to dream, dare to hope and come together in our collective wisdom.” 

Yes, our lives are different now and the rich wisdom I have been gathering over the years is truly coming to the fore. I know that “this too shall pass” – the ultimate Lao Tzu quote that continues to help me through difficult times. I have learnt that what illuminates life is not the chasing after, but the slowing down and the living in the now. However, putting this into practice has proved especially difficult for me, as I have long lived my life at full throttle.

Roger Moore used the analogy of weeding the garden to help us declutter our minds. While we dig up the weeds in our physical gardens, let’s dig deeper in our own heads to remove anything that no longer serves us. This I have found especially useful. Most days I spend some time weeding my garden in Dublin, and I try to do likewise in my head: planting seeds (thoughts) of hope and positivity. I am watering these hopes (sometimes too sparsely) with a little stillness and/or meditation. 

I am a passionate yogi and over the past weeks have been delving further into yoga philosophy thanks to the online platform Yoga Philosophy founded by hugely passionate philosophy expert and author Dr Shyam Ranganathan who is kindly offering his excellent Yoga Sutras course (normally US$300) complementary for a limited period (use the code: kateobrien).

On Lockley’s advice I have been listening to the birds – our garden has become a magical haven for robins over the past weeks. He tells us to: “Ask about the wild ones outdoors untamed by the trappings of cyber culture’ – and let then teach us how to live.” 

Thanks to New Zealand-based healer Dorinda Rose Berry I am finally starting to notice the quiet in my life, and sitting in it even for a few minutes every day. “Allow yourself to feel comfortable in this, as this is when you can best access your inner light,” she advises. “With every breath envisage that you are filling your body with white light. Feel the light filled with love and universal unconditional guidance. See yourself as the lighthouse spreading this healing light throughout your home and touching your loved ones.” 

I have also been practising Ho’oponopono, an ancient Hawaiian mantra designed to free us from toxic energy and open us to a lighter, softer way. Repeated over and over, first thing each morning the following words will sink in (I promise!): “I’m sorry – Please forgive me – I love you – Thank you.”

Finally, I am slowly and gently learning Ypomoni, the Greek for patience and and just possibly, despite the loss of lives and livelihoods, our world will be a brighter richer place in the aftermath. All the while, thanks to Patrizia Bortolin and Stefano Battaglia at Preidlhof I am remembering to breathe in, breathe out, to laugh and laugh some more. 

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