Today it’s been exactly 46 days since the corona virus lockdown has started in The Netherlands.
These 46 days mark one of the most challenging periods in my life.
In my previous article on this topic “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade” I touch upon the challenges of two full time working parents taking care of a 11 month old girl.
In this article I will share with you the insights I got from the past 46 days. I hope some of them might be useful to you, too.
- Cultivate more patience
During the past month there were plenty of moments when I felt overwhelmed.
My customers were demanding a quick reaction. My daughter was teething and experiencing some sleep regressions which resulted in a lot of crying and carrying around the house. I was tired, hungry and sleep deprived.
There were situations when I felt I was losing my patience.
For me personally yoga and meditation have always been my saviours in turbulent times (as well as my inspiration and a reminder to feel grateful in good times).
One day, when I was feeling overwhelmed and impatient for my daughter to finally fall asleep, I opened “YouTube” and searched for:
Contrary to other guided meditations that help you relax in that particular moment, this one was suggesting a very practical tip on how to cultivate more patience and shift from a reactive response to a situation towards a more conscious and mindful one.
I strongly advise you to listen to the whole meditation (it’s only 9.5 min.), but if you don’t have the time right now, please find below a brief overview of the steps you can take when you feel you are running out of patience:
S – STOP (STOP rushing, STOP nagging, STOP reacting)
T – TAKE (TAKE three deep breaths. This will help you slow down)
O – OBSERVE (OBSERVE how you are feeling and notice how your body is reacting. Ask yourself: “Why am I so impatient right now?”)
P – PROCEED (Now continue with the task at hand and do what needs to be done)
I have practiced the above steps a few times and believe me, if you do it when you are rushing and losing your patience, there is no way it won’t slow and calm you down.
Just try it and see for yourself.
- Restore the balance in your life
Even though I now had a way to deal with my impatience, I was still not there.
Some days I felt like there was something missing in my life, but I was not able to point out what exactly.
I hope I won’t lose some of you here because of the title of this meditation. Please believe me that even though the introduction might be directed to mothers, this meditation, similar to the one above, is applicable to everyone, and definitely not limited to parents only.
In this second meditation (10 min.) Mallika Chorpa, the daughter of Deepak Chopra, will ask you the following 9 questions that will help you understand where you are right now and set the intent on where you could bring more balance in your life.
Please answer each of the questions listed below by using the following scale from 1-10:
- 1-3 struggling
- 4-6 surviving
- 7-10 thriving
- Do you feel rested?
- Do you eat fresh and nurturing food every day?
- Do you move your body enough?
- Do you feel you have healthy relationships with your family? With friends? With people in your community?
- Do you feel financially secure?
- Do you feel creative? Do you laugh and play?
- Do you enjoy your work?
- Do you get enough intellectual stimulation?
- Do you feel you have a sense of purpose? Do you feel spiritually connected? Through your religion or your personal spiritual practice?
Reflect on the questions that brought some insight to you. Focus on just one and set the intention to restore the balance in the chosen area of your life. Right now you don’t need to worry about the “how”, simply setting the intention is the first step.
Don’t forget to recognize the areas of your life where you are thriving. You can keep up the great work and feel proud and grateful for your achievements in those areas.
- Make a plan and run the day
Now that I had the insights of which areas of my life needed my attention, I had to make a plan and to incorporate the activities that will restore the balance in my life into my daily routine.
As you have most probably noticed already, when you are stuck at home the days tend to go by quickly and sometimes chaotically.
If you don’t set your intention and make a plan, the chances are big that you won’t accomplish what you were hoping for.
Even tasks as simple as brushing your teeth or taking a shower might turn into a challenge if you don’t pay attention.
In our case this meant that we first had to make some changes in our daughter’s routine, so we could fit in our own work and pleasure activities in the right moments.
What I learned during the past few weeks is that if I don’t make a plan, I won’t run the day. Even worse, the day will run me.
I also realized that striving for a 1 hour yoga/body exercise practice a day is mission impossible in our situation. So why not strive for 10 minutes a day which is far less ambitious but much more realistic?
Especially for working parents it is a challenge on it’s own to do your work, take care of your kid(s), put food on the table, keep the house relatively clean and tidy and stay sane. There is almost no time left for your personal needs, not to mention the activities that feed your soul.
It also helps to set up your alarm clock and set up time for a well deserved break. For an activity that’s rewarding and meaningful to you personally: such as reading a book, going out for a walk, playing a game, watching a movie, writing, for example.
What’s in it for you?
Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t mastered these skills yet. I have just found what works for me in the current circumstances.
I hope the above ideas and tips have brought some insights to you, too. If not, I hope I have inspired you to keep on searching for the tools and tricks that will help your particular challenges and struggles.
On a final note I would like to take your mind away from where we are right now and let you dream about a more positive future by asking you the following questions.
Once everything is back to normal (well, the new “normal”):
What will be the first place you would like to visit?
Who will be the first person you would like to go out with?
What is something you are already looking forward to?
What did you learn/accomplish while being “locked” at home?
What was your most valuable lesson/accomplishment so far?
What would you do differently once you are free to wonder again?
Stay positive, face your challenges, learn your life lessons, take care and stay healthy.
The Virus Can Give Your Life More Meaning By Deepak Chopra, MD and Rudolph E. Tanzi, PhD