One reason I've been feeling so good is because of establishing a sense of continuity and normalcy in my routine--as much as possible. And the biggest example of that in my life is that as soon as I found out my in-person classes were cancelled, I moved forward with setting up online classes for Sheng Zhen meditation and qigong.
There are many things we cannot change or control. But this was something I could do to create a sense of continuity and normalcy both for myself and for my regular students. And I knew that would be just as good for our physical and mental health as the practices themselves.
So, after getting the email about class cancellations on a Thursday night, 12 hours after having just taught a class, I emailed some of my students to say stay tuned. And the next day I set up the online classes. I didn't wait for permission. I didn't wait for where I usually teach to come up with an online plan. I knew that on Tuesday I would still be teaching. And I'd teach every Tuesday and Thursday no matter what.
I felt proactive. Of service. And crystal clear.
In addition to it being my joy, I knew, without a doubt, that my regular students would want this. And I knew others would benefit from it too, so I put the word out to the general public.
And it's been amazing. The place I usually teach at on Tuesdays and Thursdays even got their own online plan together and so now even more people are showing up via Zoom!
And students are sharing about how it makes them smile, brings calm, and just how helpful it is now. For my regular students, I'm sure part of the benefit is that sense of continuity, and even "normalcy" even though we're online rather than in person.
So back to that idea of continuity and normalcy in times of big changes and uncertainty....
Like I said above, it's helpful for our health. Especially our mental health. We can't control everything, but there are some things we can control. There are still ways in which we can exercise choice in a way that serves us best.
The truth is, for me, life isn't all that much different because, in addition to being a homebody, I mostly work from home anyway. But the other day while walking my dog, I was thinking that if I were somebody who commuted each day, not just twice a week, this whole "stay at home" thing would probably feel hard and strange.
So, here are some ideas if you're struggling with staying home, especially if you used to work away from home:
1) If you normally commute, consider taking a drive if you have a car, even just a short one during at least one of the times that you're usually on the road. Or go for a walk or bike ride at that time. Or go out into your yard if you have one.
2) As much as possible, maintain the same kind of schedule you had before. If your kids are home, too, maybe this is not fully possible, but hopefully at least somewhat possible. Or maybe you adapt your schedule so that you can fit in some of your "normal" activities before the kids get up or after they go to sleep?
3) If you're not already participating in online group activities (ie meetings, dances, my classes, etc.), consider participating in some group online activities--especially at the times that you used to, before things changed. For example, if you used to attend yoga classes, find a yoga class online, or just practice on your own at that time. Or if you always went out for dinner or a movie or a walk with a certain friend or group of friends, set up some sort of virtual hang out. And if you don't like the group idea? Video call a friend or family member. Reach out. Find ways to connect and interact with others.
I'm going to just leave you with that. I might have some other ideas, but I also am considering rewriting and expanding this to submit to an online journal, in which case it's best not to write it all here first! ;-)
Just get creative. This is a great time to learn how to adapt and think outside the box. It's also a great time to slow down and do some self-reflecting. And it's also a great time to feel your feelings. It's okay if you're feeling sad, scared, anxious, bored, lonely, frustrated, etcetera. I just don't want you to get stuck in those emotions.
And I'm here if you need some support.
Something interesting happened on Saturday. Instead of going to a concert, I ended up at a bookstore.
Over a month ago, I'd bought myself a ticket to go see India.Arie, one of my favorite singers. A lot of her songs feel like music therapy to me and have helped me through many tough times. So, when I saw she was going to be in Edmonds, just a short drive for me, I was a YES.
This wasn't just any ticket purchase, though. Originally it had looked like there weren't any tickets left, like I had missed my chance. But then, I checked back another day, and there were just a couple of seats available. It was meant to be! Or so I thought....
Fast forward to this past weekend. On Friday night, I got back from a week in California, where I met my newborn niece and spent a lot of quality time with family. The next day, Saturday, I thought I'd be going to this concert in the evening.
But when it was getting closer to the time to go, the truth was that I didn't feel like going.
And I didn't feel like making myself do something I didn't want to do, especially something that was supposed to be fun, something I though I'd be happy to go do. My body was just saying no. Loud and clear. It didn't make sense, not really, but I had to listen.
It took a little while, though, to fully listen.
First I made myself get ready to go out. I put on some nicer clothes, found some earrings, re-applied some eyeliner, thinking maybe if I got ready to go and got in my car, then I would want to go. Maybe it was just about getting myself out the door! That does happen sometimes...
So I got myself out the door and into my car. And within a couple of blocks, I still didn't want to go. I thought maybe I'd just go grocery shopping. Woo hoo! But that's not really what I wanted to do with my Saturday night. I considered just making myself go to Edmonds, but then I felt another no in my body, so I turned right instead of left. I knew where I was going now, and it wasn't to the concert.
I drove to Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park.
And it felt good.
That clarity of decision and freedom of choice felt good. Invigorating, even.
I'm sure some of what felt so good was what felt like saying "you're not the boss of me" to my concert ticket. ;-)
That freedom of choice felt so good, it almost felt worth the $70 I'd paid for the ticket I wasn't going to use and was too late to sell!
And then I walked into Third Place Books, was surprised and delighted to hear live music playing and to see a bunch of older folks partner dancing. And then it felt totally worth it.
I got a cup of tea and sat down to enjoy the music and dancing. I thought about how much I'll probably really love being a senior citizen some day. And I thought about texting a friend to see if he wanted to meet me there, but wasn't sure how long I'd stay. So I just enjoyed my tea, the music, my silly thoughts, and the dancing. And then I walked around the store, looking at all sorts of things while still enjoying the music.
I hadn't done anything like that in a long time. And I do believe it was the best choice for me that night. And that's part of why it felt so good. I followed my feelings. I listened to my gut. It didn't need to make sense. I just needed to trust myself and see where that took me. And it resulted in a really unexpectedly delightful Saturday night.
Of course there are times when we really do have to do things we don't feel like doing. That's part of life. But this wasn't one of those times. So I'm glad I didn't force myself to go to that show. Who knows? Maybe something bad would have happened on my way there or back? Or maybe I just wouldn't have had as good of a time.
One thing is for sure: I wouldn't have experienced the kind of magic that comes from letting go of shoulds and instead going with the flow. It was so entertaining and so much fun. I felt free and alive, instead of like a prisoner to my original plans.
So, I'll wrap this up and just say that listening to your body is important. Choosing what's authentic, what's really true for you and in alignment with your greatest good, with your true desires, is important. Even when it comes to things that seem little, like what to do on a Saturday night, our choices shape our lives.
I've been thinking a lot about "choice" lately, so perhaps all write more about it some time. But for now, I choose to end this here and to leave you with an image that made me laugh on that night: when I realized what kind of tea I was drinking...
Rebecca Clio Gould is a Certified Sheng Zhen Teacher and Holistic Wellness Coach. Her specialties include self-love, embodied joy, women's sexuality, spirituality, surgery preparation, and trauma recovery. She is also a Supreme Science Qigong Instructor, Essence vs Form Coach, and Award-winning Author of "The Multi-Orgasmic Diet: Embrace Your Sexual Energy and Awaken Your Senses for a Healthier, Happier, Sexier You."